With All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead approaching, perhaps some perspective on the subject of death could be helpful….
Peter Marshall, the late Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, offers a wonderful story about death:
“In a home of which I know, a little boy, the only son, was ill with an incurable disease. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, read to him, and played with him, hoping to keep him from the dreadful finality of the doctor’s diagnosis – the little boy was sure to die. But as the weeks went on he gradually began to understand that he would never be like the other boys he saw playing outside his window. Small as he was, he began to understand the meaning of the term death, and he too knew he was to die.
“One day his mother had been reading to him the stirring tale of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table … and about that last glorious battle where so many fair knights met their death.
“She closed the book as her little son sat silent for an instant, deeply stirred. Then he asked the question weighing on his childish heart, ‘Mama, what is it like to die? Mama, does it hurt?’
“Quick tears sprang to her eyes and she fled to the kitchen, supposedly to tend to something on the stove. She knew it was a question with deep significance. She knew it must be answered satisfactorily. So she leaned for an instant against the smooth surface and breathed a hurried prayer that the Lord would keep her from breaking down before the boy and that she would be able to tell him the answer; the Lord did tell her. Immediately she knew how to explain it to him.
“‘Kenneth,’ she said to her son, ‘do you remember when you were a tiny boy how you used to play so hard all day that when night came you were too tired even to undress, and you’d tumble into your mother’s bed and fall asleep. That was not your bed, it was not where you belonged. You would only stay there a little while. Much to your surprise you would wake up and find yourself in your own bed in your own room. You were there because someone had loved you and taken care of you. Your father had come with big strong arms and carried you away.
“‘Kenneth, darling, death is just like that. We just wake up some morning to find ourselves in the other room – our room where we belong, because the Lord Jesus loved us and died for us.’
“The lad’s shining face looking up into hers told her that the point had gone home and there would be no more fear, only love and trust in his little heart as he went to meet the Father in heaven. He never questioned again. Several weeks later he fell asleep just as she had said, and the Heavenly Father’s big, strong arms carried him to his own room.”
—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.