After 25 days in ICU and acute care, Marilyn’s pulse started to soften. Her husband of 61 years bent over and said a tearful goodbye. A few more minutes and her breathing stopped. We asked God to welcome her to heaven with a big-time celebration. We know He did because . . .
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones.” Psalm 116:15.
As I had prayed by the bed of my sister-in-law a few days ago, I sensed from God “She’s already with me.” How could that be true? She’s right here . . . unresponsive, but her heart still beating.
Medical technology has muddied the water about death. With life-sustaining machines, drugs and protocols, it’s getting harder to know when death comes. Doctors declare you dead when your heart stops beating. Lawyers declare you dead when there’s no more brain activity. One group has put forward a new definition of death that goes like this . . . “the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions and of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.”
Plato mused about death. “Is it not the separation of soul and body? And when the soul exists in herself, and is released from the body and the body is released from the soul – death, surely, is nothing else than this?”
I’m with Plato.
I believe James says it in chapter 2, verse 26a . . .
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead . . .”
Scripture teaches that our souls and bodies are two separate things. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you . . .” We are spirit beings first . . . and last . . . and forever. When our spirits leave our bodies, it’s over regardless of what our bodies keep doing. Our spirits live on – we just change bodies and change addresses.
What difference does this make?
There’s a peace that comes from knowing she’s already ‘home’. It makes it easier to stand by a motionless, unresponsive person whom you’ve loved for so long. You still talk to her, still pour out your heart in prayer. But it’s more of a prayer for comfort than for healing because the healing’s already happened. When her spirit left her body and she saw Jesus face to face.
Today, we’ll stand by an open casket and say goodbye to a friend of 46 years. As I hold my grandkids up to see Marilyn’s body, I’ll say “That’s NOT your aunt. That’s just the ‘earth suit’ she needed when she was here. She has a new one now . . . in heaven. It’s healthy and beautiful and it won’t ever get old, sick, or worn out.
Prayer –“Father, please give us faith to believe the most outlandish thing you promised. Life after death. Heaven. New bodies. Actual community with you, the Holy Spirit and Jesus forever. Your promise gives us hope. Thank you Jesus and it’s in your beautiful name we pray. Amen.”