Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Time to Live, A Time to Die

A time to live, a time to die.

Can death be peaceful? I believe that it can.
Is there a fear of death? Yes, there is.

When we watch a birth, we consider the event as being a miracle.
When we observe a death, could that also be a miracle taking place?
Are the first breath and the last opposite ends of the same event?

What is the fear related to death?
I believe that it is the uncertainty of an unknown.
If we can gain a confidence in the certainty of a known, will the fear disappear?
I believe that the answer is, yes.
As we gain a confidence in the eternal life that follows the earthly life, the level of fear diminishes.

At a birth, the body is delivered from the womb.
At a death, the soul is delivered from the body.
The physical life of the body is a phase we pass through. It is not the goal or the “end”.
Death is the end of body-life.
Death is not the end of soul-life.
If we are in a realm of transition, in this life, what are we transitioning to?
What is the goal? What is the “end”?
Both have the same answer – eternal life.

This life on Earth is a period of passing through.
Our attention should be focused on the next life – eternal life – the goal and the “end”.
The “end” will ultimately become the beginning of forever.

The question evolves into where will the final life, that never ends, take place?
The answer lies in the temporary life…the testing ground.

The observance of a death of a body and the departing of a soul is a very spiritual occurrence.
There is a feeling of the hand of God at work.
You witness a permanent event, an instantaneous transition, the ultimate salvation of a soul.

A death has to be one of the most intimate occasions you can witness.
It has equal ranking with witnessing a human birth.
You have the honor of being present to the working of a miracle.
Things will never be the same, again.

To a Christian, death has no sting.
The approach of death should not be the rise of fear.
A Christ centered mindset and life delivers us from the realm of fear and torment.

Death is not a state necessitating a state of panic.
Death is not the end of the final chapter.
It is the opening of the doorway to eternity.
That is not to be feared.
Across the threshold are wide open arms.
Above the arms are love filled eyes.
Around the Light are celebrating angels.

No more darkness. No more pain. No more loneliness. No more fear.
Eternal Light from the Unending Love in Ever-present Glory.

Why should I be afraid?

A time to live…forever;
A time, without time, to never die.

Mike Foil, September 2009

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecc. 3:1-4


  1. Wayne wrote:
    I appreciate what you wrote here, Dad. The fear of death is in the unknown. The Christian's hope, though, is certain, thus removing fear of condemnation. All-too-often, though, people comfort themselves in the face of death with the thought of an all-loving God, when in reality there is every reason to fear, for their confident hope is really no more than wishful thinking. You wrote: "...where will the final life, that never ends, take place? The answer lies in the temporary life…the testing ground." By God's grace, we can have rightly placed confidence and hope only to the degree that our faith has been tested in this life and proved to be genuine (1 Pet. 1:7; see context of verses 3-9).

  2. My response:
    Thanks for responding, Wayne. That is exactly what I wanted to get, a discussion about an issue that most people do not feel comfortable in talking about.

    As I observed Sandee's Mom passing away, it was (to me) an amazing experience. Beforehand, I did not know what to expect or how I would respond. It was truly, very sad; for my part, mostly for the grief of the family there. But, there was something else I was feeling and it took me several days to process and begin to put my feelings into words.

    I felt honored to be allowed to be there with this family at this MOST intimate occasion. I honestly had the feeling of witnessing a miracle. That is not what I expected. Having emotions that were unexpected and different than what it seemed were typical, I hesitated for the past two weeks in verbalizing them.

    I wrote this last night and had Sandee read it this morning. I wanted her response before letting others read it as I was not sure how it would come across. I was not focusing on the tragedy or the grief, but the transfer of the soul to eternity. Wow, what an amazing event.

  3. Carolyn wrote:
    I too appreciate this. As a nurse, I have seen many people die, probably more than 30-40. I have seen people quietly go out without a comment and I have seen people cry for help in the last couple of hours. I have led people to the Lord on their death bed and I have seen people curse God on their death bed. Those who know the Lord are mostly filled with peace although the unknown sometimes makes them uneasy.

    I don’t always understand the grieving part of death and as a person who has not had a lot of people die in my life, my own response is difficult for me to understand. Am I grieving for me? Because I will miss them?… Be alone? … Why is there guilt often with the death? As if I can stay the hand of God if I had but tried harder?

    Kenny’s death really hit me hard. I felt a lot of guilt and sadness and concern for him in death that I didn’t feel in the week before he died? It still catches me by surprise when I realize that I can’t call him to talk to him. Yet, I know he is with the Lord. I have that assurance. I know that he no longer deals with pain and shame and guilt over the choices he makes to deal with his life. I know that the Lord was present with him when he died because he had the Bible beside him on his bed and although the Lord is always with His own, I know Ken was aware of it at that moment. That gives me peace.

  4. Wayne wrote:
    "MOST intimate event," "amazing...," indeed. Yet death is so "wrong." Death is not what we are meant for, but life. Death is so intrusive. It violates our sense of personal purpose. Indeed, death is the curse upon us from God because of our sin. Thankfully, for Christians, it is, because of Christ's atonement, a mere rude transition into a glorious eternity. But we must not let the nature of death, as curse, be forgotten to us, as it must direct our thoughts toward our desperate need of grace and salvation from God through Christ.

  5. My response:
    Wayne, you wrote about death being "wrong" and "a rude transition". Truly, God did create man to live forever and death is a curse for man's sin. Because of the "fall", death is now a part of life - "a time to be born, a time to die". As mentioned, there can be a tragedy involved in a death. There is an extreme sadness that accompanies the loss. The particular circumstances in each case dictate the level of each. We view the death of a child as more of a tragedy than the passing of the elderly. The grieving process has more to do with us experiencing our loss - our missing the presence of the person - our sensing the finality. We begin to grasp that we can no longer pick up the phone and talk with them. There will be no more walks together. There will be the first Christmas without them, etc. This is all normal and healthy. It shows the level of love between the individuals - the intimate relationship experienced during life.

    I guess that death can be "wrong" in the sense you meant. It does interrupt the life being lived and stop the work being accomplished. Yet, this life lasting forever is not our goal and is not, I believe, God's goal for us. Yes, he did create that way, but if that was His goal, why would He have prepared a place for us - if He never wanted us to end physical life? I believe that death opens the door to a glorious eternity and that is the goal.

    As I think about this, and have done so much more over the past weeks, I have lost the fear of death. I am not looking at death as the result of the ultimate curse, I see it as a passing away from this and an arriving at that. The point of death is the culmination of the salvation of the soul.

    It is this life that is temporary. This life is not the ultimate experience that must be grasped and clung to with all strength to the bitter end. I do not want to go out, clawing and grasping to one more breath. I want to have my eyes set on what lies ahead. I can only imagine!

  6. Wayne wrote:
    I think that was Paul's attitude when he wrote Philippians 3:8-14. He was reaching forward to what lies ahead. He was pressing on toward the goal of the "upward call." For him, "to die is gain" (1:21). He desired to "gain Christ." All that he might have attained in this world was for him rubbish compared to this future glory that was his in Christ.

  7. Paula wrote:
    I really appreciated hearing each of you express your thoughts about dying and death. Mike, I could see what you meant about the feeling of witnessing a miracle. At one moment, the person is with you and the next moment they are in the presence of the Lord. (assuming that this person whoever he or she is has come to a true relationship with the Lord) There was only a breath that seperated us from the Lord. You and Sandee and all her family were there to almost hand her mom over to the waiting arms of the Father. I can have a sence of "awe" about that moment.

    But if I were to speak honestly about Cozy's death, I didn't have a sence of "awe" and probably still don't. It was a sudden tearing that left a giant wound. It was more like the tree you wrote about. It is still this tender spot after a year and a half that can bring tears at a moments notice. It's raw and it easily opens up. Her death was abrupt and final and left me gasping for air.

    I know you wanted to emphasize something besides the pain of death, but most the time when it is someone who played a major role in our lives, it is hard to see beyond that.

    The Lord has shown me something about myself that I will share with all of you in this very transparent email.
    I was thinking of death and heaven not too long ago, and my thoughts automatically went to,"I will see Cozy and it will be so great". And the Lord spoke to me thru the Holy Spirit, "You should be more excited to see Me than to see Cozy." And then my response to that was again automatic: "But I know Cozy." And again I heard the Holy Spirit say, "You should know Me!" I was totally exposed! Sooooooooo, I have been pondering about what that means. Love and intimacy only come with time spent together and lots and lots of sharing. I want Jesus to always be my BFF. I want Him to be the face I long for more than any other.

    Just sharing whats real,

  8. My response:
    Thanks for sharing on such a personal level. Your response is exactly why I wrote about death in the first place. It is a subject that is not discussed, yet it is something that we all deal with. It has a mystery involved with it that we don't talk about.

    There are multiple aspects of dying and death. Your heart is dealing with the tragedy aspect of Cozy's death. That is part of what we see and relate to dying. It causes some fear in us about other's dying and about our own death. The suddenness of an unexpected death causes a state of shock, grief, possibly some level of regret. The cause of death can be an indescribable tragedy that leaves, what feels like, a wound that will never heal in our hearts.

    I, in no way, am trying to diminish any of those aspects. They are all real emotions that we will have and deal with. The loss of a loved one, no matter how expected or how peaceful, will cause pain. I see that daily in Sandee. Much of how we react to a death has to do with our own personal perspective. Just a few hours prior to Sandee's Mom's death, I had a talk with Tara, Sandee's sister. Tara was very upset about the agony her Mom was experiencing and the distress she was going through. I saw it just the opposite. I felt like Joan, even though she labored at every breath, was unconscious and was not feeling that agony. I tried to reassure Tara that her Mom was as peaceful as could be expected. It seemed to help her to hear that someone else was not seeing it as a state of agony.

    Sandee prayed that God would allow her to be there when her Mom passed away and that was the case. When that happened, the room was filled with a deep sadness, emotions were over-flowing and there was a loss of anything to say by everyone. Still, at that same time, I felt like I was standing on holy ground. I felt like the presence of God was in the room. I felt like I had witnessed a miracle. As I write this, I again am having tears. The emotions are real and they will last a long time. The loss of company is final and that leaves an empty hole in the heart. That will never be filled by another person and will always be there. But, as with the aspen trees, it will get better over time and not be so jagged around the edges.

    Still, the other aspect that I wrote about, that is not discussed much, is the event of death. Not the tragedy or the emotions of the pain of the loss; but the passing of a soul into eternity. To me, that is a miracle - regardless of the physical circumstances surrounding the death. Seeing it that way, helped me to have a different perspective about dying. It helped take away the fear. It sort of showed be that God is a part of the process and He is in control. To feel His presence in such a sad situation is very reassuring.

  9. Sharon wrote:
    Paula, I really appreciate your openness and vulnerability. I hope we are all spurred on toward a greater appreciation and intimacy with Christ! Because HE truly is all that matters!!!
    Love you, Sis.

  10. I appreciate all of the comments to this posting. I fully recognize that this is a very delicate subject and extremely personal to everyone. I know that I am no expert on the subject, in any aspect, but did believe that it was good for some open discussion on a topic that, for some reason, is not talked about. You know the old saying, "There are two things in life that are certain, paying taxes and dying." Well, it seems that some do not pay taxes, so this is the one thing each of us can count on sharing.

    So, if it is so common, since it happens to someone every day, why do we attempt to bury our emotions, deep thoughts and hurts and keep it all deep inside of only ourselves?

    I don't know the answer, but it seems to be the norm. Most all of us have lost someone very close and some of those have been very recent and the pain is still very fresh. It seems that being able to share and discuss openly would be helpful and healthy to us. Yet, that is a call we each must make. The level of pain is unique and the method or mourning is individual.

    This blog appears to only be read by people we know and love. So, know that your sharing is in good hands.