The nurse practitioner began pulling away, then rebounded, holding the stethoscope firmly to my chest.
“Just a sec, I want to listen a little longer,” she said.
“Okay.” I wait, conscious of her concentration, until she steps back to address me.
“You know your heart just stopped.”
“I’ve suspected that.”
She continued, “It happens to my husband too, and they ran a bunch of tests. In the end, the cardiologist said it was nothing to worry about.”
This strange stillness does concern me. Occasionally, when I am very tired, the background noise in my head pauses into silence and freeze-frame. I wonder if my heart will fall asleep so deeply that it will not awake, and I won’t realize, until it’s too late. Being caught off guard is a disturbing thought to me. One minute conscious, the next increasingly anxious that the moment of stepping into another world is happening. I believe in Heaven and that my place there’s been paid for by God, Himself, but the unknown still niggles.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:19-20
Heaven is sure, but I don’t like surprises. Order, planning, mental preparation, these steps comfort me, so spontaneity distresses me. Before I jump into cold water or walk to a podium, I like to take a deep breath, run over events in my mind and square my determination. Death doesn’t always grant advance notice.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3
Jesus has already prepared for our deaths in advance. He’s done the planning and execution, so death becomes our door to hope. We’ll get to meet Him in person.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Death ushers us into a new existence free of all that is anguishing but full of God and His fruits (love, joy, peace…). How about a new us who don’t speak regretful words or spin all things around ourselves? We will understand and love each other without bumbles or meanness.
We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
Wouldn’t it be great to run with energy and joy, without rusty joints and stiff backs that remind us we’re not kids anymore? Won’t it be fantastic to enjoy a pristine Earth unmarred by inventions and remediations that end with more unwanted consequences? I look forward to walking through forests so extensive that squirrels migrate again and to swimming in water clear as glass.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21
Heaven will be newness which remains fresh, where moths and rust do not destroy.
For this world in its present form is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:31
Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14
I need to hike through the forest of these thoughts again and again until that moment when, like labor, I am taken over, to enter a new realm. I have nothing to fear and all to welcome.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31b-32
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.