The man was transported by helicopter from the local hospital to one that could provide better care. The close-knit family raced to support his wife of 60 years and to wait on the diagnosis. Able to speak, yet unable to move his legs or raise either arm, the doctors told him that his condition was rare. They warned him that the paralysis could move into other muscles and organs. One bit of encouragement was that many who suffered from this syndrome recovered with time and physical therapy. Given this news, the family filed through the ICU giving hugs and kisses, as well as words of reassurance. But the man’s son saw something in his father’s eyes.
Days stretched into a week, and then a month. His condition worsened. The side effects of one drug meant another drug had to be administered. The man lay physically helpless and mentally in a fog of medication. Unable to breathe, a ventilator was inserted. An inability to swallow meant a feeding tube was necessary for nutrition. Perplexing the doctors, he displayed only brief and infrequent signs of hope. Family meetings and doctor consultations became a regular occurrence. His wife faithfully sat by his bed each day, hoping and praying for healing, but quietly dreading what she feared was inevitable, and what she knew her husband wanted.
At 12:55 p.m. on October 21, 2012, 52 days after admittance, my father passed away.
My father and I had always been close. My dad indicated to me in various ways at the hospital that he was ready to die. It was obvious that he was even angry with me for not honoring his wish to never be “kept alive by machines,” which he had told me numerous times. But our family agreed to pursue every avenue for healing, while knowing that my father was ready to meet his Savior.
I have come to realize that what I saw in my father’s eyes in the ICU that night was peaceful resignation. Looking back, I know that my dad sensed this was not going to end in recovery, and his eyes communicated to me that it was OK. Ultimately, my father’s body failed, but God renewed his spirit eternally.
Why do I share this intimate story? My father had awakened in the morning feeling fine. Within 24 hours, he had lost the ability to move his limbs and, shortly thereafter, the ability to breathe, speak or swallow. When he started his day, he didn’t know the chain of events that lay in front of him. But God did. Thankfully, my dad had already settled his relationship with God.
So I ask you. Are you certain of your relationship with God? Have you seriously considered what happens after you die? Do you know the hope that God has provided for you, or is your life dead with no hope of recovery?
Paul wrote to the believers at the church in Ephesus:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.
— Ephesians 2:1–5
The Apostle described the human condition as dead. Not bad, dead. Death signifies an absence of communication and, as long as we are dead in our sins (acts of disobedience to God), we are spiritually separate from God. We follow the ways of this world and we follow the “ruler of the kingdom of the air,” which is Satan.
Paul wrote to Titus:
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another, But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
— Titus 3:3–5
We were dead, but God.
We were enslaved, but God.
We were trapped, but God.
We were deceived, but God.
We were bent on hate, but God.
We were lost in sin, but God.
God is merciful in that he does not give us what we deserve: judgment and death.
God is gracious in that he gives us what we don’t deserve: salvation and life.
You do not know what the next moment holds for you, but God does.
Understand that your current state without God places you in a state of death, separate forever from a loving God. Accept that God has provided a way to life through Jesus Christ. Acknowledge that Jesus defeated death on the cross and took all the sin that separates you from God. Confess that Jesus Christ is Savior and place your trust in him for salvation and receive his gift of forgiveness and grace.