As I struggled to sleep following my hospital-induced acid trip through the K-Hole (Please see last week’s post if you want details), I was tormented by the visions that I had seen while I believed I was dead. Although the anesthesiologist who administered it said Ketamine only stays in the human body for 30-40 minutes, the dose I was given remained in my system for at least 10 days. I know this not only because I was unable to sleep but because my dog wouldn’t come near me. He literally turned his nose up at me each time our paths crossed and slept facing away from me to avoid my scent.
In order to pass one sleepless night, I logged into Facebook and was stunned when I realized that one of my good friends had died. She was just 45. I stared at the computer screen wondering aloud how I could have missed the announcement about her death even though someone had been regularly posting about it since it happened on July 22. Cathy and her husband, Lee, had been in the Sunday school class that Brent taught while we were still newlyweds in the early 1990s.
As the years passed, Cathy and I grew close as we struggled in very human shells to try to honor the Lord by home schooling our very human children. She was an awesome writer with a wonderful sense of humor. And, on many occasions, we laughed until we cried about our home school travails. And although Cathy and her family moved from Glendora to Riverside and we relocated from Glendora to Lake Arrowhead, we stayed in touch. Although I was well aware that she had been suffering from the devastating effects of cancer for seven years, when last I heard, she was in remission. So I was shocked by her death.
Two days later, I was wide awake at 3 a.m. when our telephone rang. One of Brent’s cousins, who was also a close personal friend and one of my favorite clients, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in his home after suffering cardiac arrest. Only 56 years of age and training for a bike marathon, Bob was in great shape. He watched what he ate, exercised and never missed his comprehensive annual physical exam. So his death came as an overwhelming blow.
After we prayed together for Bob’s family and talked for hours about the surreal nature of it all, Brent tried to catch a couple of hours of sleep while I sat in the early morning light and cried out to God. After all; none of the events of the week had surprised Him. He had to have allowed each and every one. All I could muster was a mono-syllabic question to my Creator: “Why?”
Anne Graham Lotz asked a similar question as she watched the events of 9/11 unfold on her television screen. She recorded her reactions in what has recently become one of my favorite books—Expecting to See Jesus.
“Tears streamed down my cheeks, my heart broke, and I heard my own voice crying out. ‘Oh no, God, no! So many people dying! Right now! God, help them!’ As I sat transfixed, with my eyes glued to the television screen, I knew people at that moment were stepping into eternity, and I wondered how many people went to work that morning, parked their cars, rode up the elevators, unlocked their office doors, booted up their computers, poured a cup of coffee, and reached for the telephone…then, in the blink of an eye, found themselves in eternity, standing before God?! My next thought was, ‘How many of those people stepping into eternity right now are not ready to meet God?’”
I’m extremely grateful that Cathy and Bob knew Jesus. They were devoted followers whose faith has undoubtedly become sight. And that makes the grief process incredibly more bearable than it is when we grieve for those who die outside of a relationship with Christ. But Cathy left a loving husband and five children. And Bob’s first wife died of an aneurysm when his children were just one and three years of age. From a human standpoint, neither event makes sense.
Although I didn’t see a white light during my own near-death experience, I was made painfully aware of the distinct difference between what happens in the natural world and the spiritual realm. I believe that the Lord acquaints us with death while we’re here to keep our eyes pointed heavenward. After all; it’s easy to get distracted and forget that this earth is not our home.
This is how Anne Graham Lotz puts it: “We are teetering on the edge of a giant abyss where time stops and eternity begins, yet we seem to be living our lives as though this life is all there is or ever will be.”
While Jesus was on earth, He repeatedly instructed His disciples not to be deceived and to keep watch. His coming is eminent. And if we are not the generation that will witness His second coming (and I truly believe that we are), we have this in common…we will die. It’s undeniable. Like the people who died on 9/11, like Cathy and like Bob. Like the victims of the Columbine High School masacre in 1999. Like theater-goers in Aurora, Colorado last month. One day, our time here on earth will be finished and we will meet our Maker.
Are you ready?
“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”