Click Other Side of Death – LIFE to listen to the audio version of this post.
It always intrigued me that Peter, Andrew, James and John, when called by Jesus, at once left their nets and followed Him. No good byes to the family. No hanging around to take a shower and pack. They left their nets at once and followed Him.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee,
He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.
They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said,
“and I will send you out to fish for people.”
At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Going on from there, He saw the other brothers,
James son of Zebedee and his brother John.
They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.
Jesus called them,
and immediately they left the boat and their father
and followed Him.
Matthew 4:18-22 (NIV)
Why would they do that? Was it their own impulsiveness? Was it the call of adventure that seemed more appealing than the monotonous life they were living? Or was it Jesus Himself who drew them in?
I believe it was simply Jesus. God revealed through Jeremiah that He does indeed draw people to Himself with a Love that is not like earth love. He draws people to Himself with a Love that is a forever kind of Love, coming from the very Center of All that God is.
He calls with The Voice we recognize as familiar, coming from a Place we perhaps once lived and will return to one day.
the LORD appeared to them from a distance:
“I have loved you with a Love that lasts forever.
And so with unfailing Love,
I have drawn you to Myself.”
Jeremiah 31:3 (CEB)
The verse in Matthew just before Jesus called the four disciples revealed what Jesus was openly teaching.
“ … for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 4:17 (NIV)
The View from Close to Heaven
When I was a nursing assistant in high school, I worked in a small local hospital. Even though this was many years before the hospice movement, the staff there recognized that there was a time when no further medical treatments could save a person.
They also recognized that dying people should not have to go through the labor pains of delivery from this life to the next without a labor coach near by. Then, as now, many health professionals did not want to take the “death watch.” It goes against everything they have been taught. Dying represents failure to them. Many look away.
And so in that time of the early 60s, the nurse in charge sent me, the nursing assistant, in to sit with the dying and to “let her know when it was over.” As I sat and held hands or watched the tides of respirations become more restless, I wondered what the person was seeing.
I wondered if it were terrifying to them. It seemed so to me. They certainly seemed in a life and death struggle to breathe. And then there came the moment of release, where the tide went out and did not return. All restlessness stopped. Earth life seemed to be done.
“What did they see on their side?” I wondered. “What was it like for them? What would it be like for me when my time came?”
A Gift From My Mother
I had a wonderful relationship with my Mother. I felt I could tell her anything. In the early years, it was more of her being the strong listener for me. But in her later years, she was willing to talk with me, woman to woman.
She shared her struggles, her feelings, and her unwavering faith in God. She was once very ill, close to the point of death. But The Lord mercifully healed her and she returned home to distribute His Gifts to others for many more years.
In looking back at that time when she was so sick, she told me, “I always had kind of a fear of the moment of dying … I guess, because I wasn’t sure what it would be like and how I’d handle it. God is so good. He gave me a trial run! I could actually feel myself slipping away, and you know what … it was so peaceful and happy. It was wonderful. I won’t ever be afraid of death again. When it happens, it will be ok.”
At age 91, Mother took the real trip. Her smile was so wide God showed it to me as a Sunset (See the story of my mother’s death in a previous blog).
An Amazing Send Off For My Mother In Law
My mother in law considered her Christian beliefs a personal matter between her and God. She was not very vocal about her “personal beliefs,” even though the available clues showed a woman who had strong beliefs in God.
Mary Jo was not a woman who was willing to give in to anyone. She was always ready to debate any subject and go to the limit to prove her point. “Surrender” would never be a word I would associate with her.
However, the day came when she had no argument. She suffered a sudden, massive stroke. We were at her bedside when the ventilator was turned off. We were there for each heart beat that became more and more infrequent. The force with which a major blood vessel in her brain had burst made it impossible for there to be any activity.
However, just before she died, suddenly, she raised both hands toward heaven and turned them over in total surrender to The One Who was raising her up. We stood in amazement. Her doctor said there was no explanation for this very unanticipated movement.
I wondered what she saw that would prompt such a response. It had to be something so awesome that its Power would bring Power back to an earthly body that seemed to have no power left. What did she see?
Later, The Lord gave us a clue. In going through Mary Jo’s purse, I found a scrap of paper on which she had written the words from a poem. I later found the words to be from This is The American Earth by Nancy Newhall. It was published 50 years before Mary Jo’s death. Who knows how many times she had read it and anticipated a day when it would be true.
You shall top a rise and behold creation,
And you shall need the tongues of angels
to tell you what you have seen!
Jesus Comes for Us Himself!
Movies and tv shows often picture angels as coming to take the dearly departed to heaven. There are references in the Bible that reinforce this thought. But a closer look puts most of those references in the time before Jesus was known.
In Jesus’ statement to His Followers (and that includes us), He let us know that we will get an escort much more personal than the angels. He Himself will escort us to our new home! And that home will have been personally prepared for us by Him, The One, Who created us and knows our every need.
“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.”
I believe that it may be for us, as it was for Peter, James, Andrew and John. We may be in the middle of an ordinary day when we turn around and see Jesus. He will say, “Follow Me.”
It won’t matter what is going on around us. It won’t matter who or what we are leaving behind. We will be drawn into the Source of All The Power in The Universe and enfolded in more Love than we have ever felt.
I imagine the things we see at that moment will be so amazing that we may feel we need the tongues of angels to tell us what we have seen. At that moment, we will know we are seeing Glory!
The View From This Side
Those who are left on earth do not get the same view. As we see someone transitioning into their new body, any number of emotions can attempt to overtake us. Even if we see death as a new beginning for our loved ones, it feels like an ending for us, who grieve. Life will not be the same for us ever again.
It is difficult enough to deal with our feelings about death when we have one person die or even just a few. However, events such as September 11, 2001, jar us to our core. It brings to mind how quickly life can change, how little we really control, even on an “ordinary” day, and how life can seem very unfair.
However, in spite of the many questions we cannot answer, we can answer the most important one. What happened to those who heard The Voice they recognized that morning? Where did those people go who responded to “Follow Me?”
After the events of September 11, 2001, I wrote a song in memory of those who some say were lost that day. However, I believe, instead, they were found! Jesus was there and the report of His Followers would have been quite different from what the news reports said on that day.
The following song is copyrighted by me, but feel free to share it with whomever you think could receive comfort from it. I will share the music at a future time. Please credit me as the writer, if quoted separately from this blog.
I’m With Jesus!
© 2001 Carolyn Priester Jones
Lyrics and Music
I was working on that morning.
My cup of coffee was half gone.
Suddenly, I felt a gentle breeze.
I turned around to see …
And to my surprise, it was Jesus!
He was standing there with me!
Standing there with me!
Plain as He could be!
He told me not to fear!
“Follow Me. We’re leavin’ here!”
Others might have been calling,
But I heard only Him.
There might have been other noise.
I’m not sure what might have been.
I just knew …
It was Jesus!
And there was no pain!
Me and Jesus!
We walked and talked again!
He showed The Way to me!
And we walked right through that stormy sea!
In a world I left behind,
the headlines might have read
That all of us had perished …
that all of us were dead.
But they were have been so wrong
‘cause I’m more alive than then!
I walk the streets of Glory,
and I walk here with my Friend!
I’m with Jesus!
What a Glorious Sight!
I KNOW Jesus!
And everything’s so right.
I HEAR Jesus!
like I never did before!
I’ve had JOY since
we walked through Life’s door!
Very truly I tell you,
whoever obeys My Word
will never see death.
John 8:51 (NIV)