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A little story of death and life

July 5, 2014

I want to tell you a little story that was sent to me last week (If you know who originally wrote it could you let me know so I can’t give them the credit?):

A minister had been to see a sick man. As he was leaving the sick man turned and said to him, ‘I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side..’

Very quietly, the minister said, ‘I don’t know..’

‘You don’t know? You’re, a Christian minister, and don’t know what’s on the other side?’

The minister was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the man, the minister said, ‘Did you notice my dog? He’s been waiting outside. He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there and that is enough.’

That story arrived at just the right time. I have been taking lots of funerals lately, and on Monday I have the funeral a friend who is also one of my ministers. With all of these services and all of the talking with bereaved relatives it’s not surprising that I’ve been thinking about death and life.

Death is the final enemy of all living things, at least that is how it appears from here. Talking about the sheepfold Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10.10) If Jesus has come to give us life to the full, then life is indeed precious, a gift to be treasured, and the only life that we are sure of is this one.

We only know this earthly life, so the natural reaction to death is to be afraid. It is mine and the theif wants to steal it away. Will there be anything on the other side? If there is something on the other side, will it be good? How will I know? How can I be really sure?

Like that little story I don’t find descriptions of heaven all that helpful. What helps me is what I learn hear and now. I try and spend my time getting to know my master better. The Holy Spirit makes that job a bit easier. I keep finding that there is more to learn and to love. But what I have mostly learned so far is that I’m loved, and loved, and loved some more. I can completely trust Jesus to have a place for me, wherever that may be. My main hope now is that when the time comes, I will be as eager as that dog to get through the door!

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