I am not afraid to die

I've been kind of fixated on death lately. I suppose that's natural, since my father passed away a few weeks ago. In the weeks prior to his death, Daddy and I talked about death. He believed in heaven, and he told me he wasn't afraid to die.

And it seems everyone is talking about the book, Heaven is for Real, which relays the near death experience of 11-year-old Colton Burpo, who died during emergency surgery and went to heaven, only to return with amazing details he couldn't have known before. Now, I've never had a near death experience. I'm not sure what I think about them, and that's not what I'd like to talk about here. I bring up Colton's experience only to demonstrate that everywhere I look lately, I encounter people talking about death and heaven in one way or another.

In addition to that, something happened to me during my father's last moments that keeps coming back to me. I'm a little embarrassed to talk about it, because things like this don't happen to me on a regular basis. But at my sister's urging, I wrote about this experience for the "Daughter's Memories" part of Daddy's funeral. I'll share a section of my memories here:

I spent Daddy’s last day at his side. We listened to country gospel music, and I read the Bible to him and I sang to him, and we prayed together. He had very little energy, but he was alert, and answered all my questions so I know he was still very aware. I went home and went to bed that night. My sister called me at 11:25 and said the nursing home had called and suggested she might want to come because his breathing was labored. His breathing had been labored so often recently, neither of us thought this could be serious. I said, “Should I come?” and she said, “Let me go see what’s going on, and I’ll call you from there.” I laid back down and held the phone in my hand, waiting for the call. I was praying for Daddy, in that dreamy state between sleep and wakefulness. I must have drifted off to sleep, because I saw something that I will never forget, something that touched me deeply. I saw heaven open, and Jesus standing there. He reached down and grabbed Daddy by the hand, and pulled him up. At that moment, the phone clutched in my hand rang, and it was Susie. She was crying, and she said, “He’s gone.” My tears started rolling, but all I could say was, “I saw it! I saw it! He’s in heaven, and I saw him go.” Was it just a dream? Maybe. But I believe the dream was a gift from my Lord, his way of telling me, “It’s okay. I’ve got him now. You can stop worrying.”

Today during my morning Bible reading in the book of Hebrews, I read this: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

The 'He' referred to is, of course, Jesus. And the 'children who have flesh and blood' are me and you and all who look to Jesus as Lord. This is one of those passages that contain so much heavy stuff we could study it for a week and see some new truth in it every day. But today what hit me was, "I don't have to be afraid to die. I know Who's in charge, and I know I will not be alone when the time comes. He'll be right there."

I hope you have that assurance too, my friend!