At an ocean beach on a summer day in the late '80's...
A quasi-separation has occurred, and the essence of the man stares down, unseen, at his own near-lifeless body. He knew what was happening and struggled against it; he was not ready to leave this earth just yet--not now!
Then the space around him filled with a Presence, and he recognized that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters, just nearby, as He had in the beginning.
My servant, my son: do you see and understand?
"I see that I'm dying: my color changed to ash, and even now is deepening into blue. Why Lord? Why now? Only an hour ago I accepted..."
I know, I am omnipresent. I have another plan for that congregation.
"And my wife--after what we've just suffered, and the situation I'd be leaving her in..."
His conversation with the Divine was briefly interrupted by a stray heartbeat--no more than a flutter, really.
"...what about her, Lord?"
I have a plan for her. In fact, I have a surprise in mind, for several years down the road...
A plan. Trust Me.
"And my daughters, my son. My folks, my brother and sister, and..."
A plan, a design, a purpose, an intent, do you see? They're Mine, after all, not yours. See them in My hand?
"But they'll miss me."
"They need me."
They need ME.
"Lord, I'm still young, and I'm laboring for Your kingdom. You need as many workers as You can get!"
I know. I know your burden. My harvest will continue without you. Billy Graham has many good years left...
--a flicker of a smile--
...and persecution is coming for My church in the far-flung places. Their roots will dig deep, and their faith will become strong. They also carry the kingdom burden, as you have.
People will be sharing My gospel right up until the end, until the very "twinkling-of-an-eye" instant. The work carries on without you; it does in this moment, and will continue tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Lay it down, now, son. Your time of bearing My cross is done, and I am pleased. Stop your fight. Today you will be with Me in paradise.
"I am tired, and the battle seems to be too much for me this time. I cannot win?"
"And her? You'll walk with her through her grief?"
Look and see--we have begun that journey together, even now. Her time of mourning will truly be deep, but I am deeper. It will be strong, but I am stronger. It will engulf, but My presence will overwhelm. She is Mine. Trust Me.
An elasticized moment passed, time turned inside itself. The sandy body still did not respond; the frantic ministrations continued, first by lifeguards, then by paramedics.
A crooked smile, the beginning of life's final release. "Pretzels? Heaven has pretzels?"
With a shared laugh and the merging of his soul into God's spirit, the man stopped his war against the inevitable, against mortality itself, and slipped away, saying/singing, "Lead on, O King Eternal." The last fraying thread connecting the preacher to his earthly life was a hope that even his death would reach some lost soul for the Lord.
And there on the beach lay his burden, unseen and unknown, waiting to be picked up and carried by a newly called worker.
(Matthew 9:37-38, NIV) Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."