by Rev Robert A Wendel
“Christ brought us the good news. It shines like a light and offers life that never ends. He has given eternal life to everyone who has done what is good.” (2 Timothy 1:10, Romans 2:7, CEV.)
My new MD requested that I get an overnight workup at the hospital to update his office chart. The next day I decided to stop at the Dollar Store and pick up some get-well cards. “It seems I’ve been buying them all too often”, I told the clerk. She snapped back “When our age group gets older, they get sick and die. That’s how it is.”
Even though I didn’t help her, she reminded me of just how wonderful it is to have friendships later in life. It’s true that my life has been enriched by dozens of friends in a whole handful of places from as far north as Maine and west to Ohio and south to West Virginia, all since September of 1972.
When you’re as blessed as I have been to have pastored four different congregations and ministered in six separate hospitals including the Beckley VA Medical Center, relationships mount up quickly. I gladly admit that some of the most memorable people in my life are my friends at First Baptist in Beckley. I felt especially blessed at the monthly Men’s Breakfast.
As a pastor or minister besides friends you harvest of bushel-full of experiences which serve to mature your life. One of these is death itself. In congregations, death comes-and-goes like the wind. In medical facilities or long term housing, a person’s “passing” from this life to the next is considered routine.
Dying is the same for everyone. Dying doesn’t depend on age, economic status or geographic location. Dying is a human process just as our birth is. God has other plans for us. All we lose is our physical body (I Corinthians 15:53-54). Dying is a total absence of pain, fear or anxiety. “Death cuts the cord that keeps us captive to this world” wrote Rev. Billy Graham.
Eben Alexander, M.D., wrote “Friends and family are waiting and looking for us in the afterlife. None of us is ever unloved. Our Creator loves and cherishes us beyond our ability to comprehend.” (I John 4:7).