He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave. – Matthew Henry
I admit that I am afraid to die. There you have it—a Christian confessing his fear of death. We are not supposed to be afraid. But I think that perhaps I am not alone in this fear.
Don't get me wrong. I have confessed my sins to God and received Jesus as my Savior. And yet, I still fear death.
In talking with other Christians, I have come to believe that what I fear, at least in part, are the unknown mysteries of dying; does an angel escort me out of my body, fly me through the clouds, and eventually take me to the gates of Heaven? Or do my eyes close in death and re-open in the presence of God? Is there no dramatic flight through the clouds, no escort through enemy occupied territory? (Satan is called the prince of the power of the air, after all). By the way, I don't believe in soul sleep, but I do believe the Bible. Perhaps that will be another post.
Aside from the anxiety of going to a place I have never been and not knowing the mode of travel in getting there, I fear also leaving my family behind. This might seem obvious to some, but it may not be what you think. In this, I fear not for myself, but for them. I have buried my firstborn son and know what it feels like to be left behind standing at his grave. It is a terrible agony to bury your child. I think that I would fear the thought of my family grieving over me the way that I have over Jesse.
I also have a fear of the dying process itself. I have no doubt that this fear has been greatly influenced by watching Jesse die. We helplessly looked on while Jesse's health deteriorated over the span of 8 plus months as the cancer and chemo ravaged his body. Then, in the final days and hours as our son fought for every breath, the cancer overwhelmed his system. There is a certain kind of loneliness in dying. From my perspective, it appeared as though Jesse died alone, as if God had forsaken us. Death truly is an enemy just as the Bible declares. Having witnessed it up close, I long for the day when Jesus will have destroyed its grip forever.
This brings me to the quote above, which arrested my attention the moment I laid eyes on it. I wondered if it could be true that I was not heavenly minded enough, and if that may be why I was afraid to die. Looking back now, I must confess I was caught up in the things of this life before Jesse's illness and death. The life to come was very much on the back burner, if it came to mind at all—most of my investments of love, time, and energy where placed in this life. I had two feet firmly planted on planet Earth as if I would always be here. Now, however, I find myself with one foot on earth and the other in Heaven, and that presents a new challenge all in itself.
I wonder; do any of you fear death, leaving loved ones behind, or the dying process? Are there any of you who have had your eyes turned Heavenward because of the death of a loved one? I'd love to hear from you.