The other day, my wife and I counted 8 people whose deaths we’ve been close to in the last few years. Close family members and friends. Some sudden and tragic . . . some long, drawn out and excruciating. That’s not to mention my ‘near miss’ with a lung transplant. We’re wondering if maybe we’re bad luck.
Years ago, I heard a speaker talk about our ‘Earth suits’ . . . how God places our soul, our personality . . . who we are and were created to be, into an Earth suit for the journey on Earth. Scripture tells us that God knew us before we were formed in the womb . . . before we were put in our Earth suit and incarnated as a little peep. Similarly, when we die we continue to exist. We simply exit our Earth suit and take on an ‘eternal body’ as our soul goes on to be with God (or someplace separated from Him if we spurn Jesus). While Paul called our bodies ‘tents’ and ‘temples,’ neither word picture has stayed with me like the Earth suit.
My friend Jack was a little boy when his grandfather died. Jack’s folks took him to the mortuary for the viewing even though he was very young. Jack vividly remembers being held up in his dad’s arms so he could see his deceased grandfather in the coffin and hearing his dad say emphatically, “Son, that is not your grandfather. He’s no longer here.” The certainty of his dad’s words gave Jack great peace about death. He wasn’t looking at his grandfather, just his vacant Earth suit.
It’s also helped me understand the 3 kinds of death, Legally, you can be declared dead when there is no more brain function. Medically, you’re dead when you flatline and have no more pulse . . . when bodily functions cease. But the third kind, spiritual death, happens when one’s spirit is separated from the body . . . when the soul is jettisoned and goes on to another place. Personally, I believe this sometimes happens before the heart stops. I feel sure my mom, sister and sister-in-law were in Heaven well before their comatose bodies stopped breathing.
The ‘Earth suit’ concept isn’t something to be shared carelessly in times of crisis, grief or mourning. But it has given me hope by reminding me that I am not my body . . . that my soul exists beyond my Earth suit and that there is another life after this one with an eternal body what won’t ever die or wear out.
Scripture: For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Mentor Tip: Prepare your guys for the day when they deal with death up close and personal. Share your experiences . . . what you did right and what you wish you’d done differently, and how God was with you through them all. Don’t dance around the ‘death issue.’ Be prepared and help prepare them.