The following conversation ensued the other day between my six year old son, Jake, and myself:
Jake: "This is the second best day of my life."
Me: "Second? What's the first?"
Me, taken aback: "Dying? You mean the day you die is the best day of your life?"
Jake: "Yeah, you know, cause I'll be in Heaven."
Me: dead silence as I ponder this line of thought, and am reminded again of just how many times a child truly can lead us.
my little deep-thinker
The funny thing is, that I had been thinking about death just a few days before this conversation. It had actually all started with thinking about life, birth to be specific. I was thinking of how we as a culture try to control birth--either by purposely limiting it or intervening in unnatural ways to try to cause it--and therefore to control life. It occurred to me that the same thing happens on the other end: think of all the "magic potions" out there that are supposed to make people live longer, and conversely, think of all the different forms of euthanasia.
Anyway, my thoughts came around to the fear of death we all seem to have. In many ancient cultures (and a few still today), death is not seen as something to be feared, but rather to be welcomed when the time comes. Here in America, we just don't do that. We don't want to be old, much less dead!
I realized as I thought about this that my feelings about my own death have changed over the years. Fifteen years ago, the thought of death frightened me. Not because I was afraid of what would happen after I died, but rather because I hated so much the idea of all that I would miss in life! It sounds funny now, but I was just a teenager then! In fact, I can remember saying to my mother and grandmother that I hoped the rapture didn't happen any time soon, because I was pretty sure there was no sex in heaven, and I didn't want to go to heaven as a virgin! Oh, ugh, to look back now at the conversation I just want to slap my teenage self!
Then I started having children. My outlook on life, and therefore on death, changed. The focus of my fear became what would happen to my children if I died. How would their lives change if they had to grow up without their mother? What would they miss out on? Would they have to go to public schools without me at home to teach them? Who would teach my girls all the things they needed to know about being women?
So today, as I think about my views on death, I realize what a work God has worked in me over the years. I have learned to "let go and let God" in so many areas of my life, and this has carried over to my thoughts on death. Even if I die and am no longer here on earth with them, still God will be with them. He will take care of them. It's almost laughable to think that I could believe my own part in their lives so huge apart from Him. They're His children, really, on loan to me!
So I don't worry anymore about what will happen to my children if I die. I know they have a good father, good grandparents, extended family, friends, church family that would make sure they were taken care of in the very best ways possible. And what's more important, is that God would never forget nor forsake them.
It occurs to me that the only thing we can really do in preparation for our own death is to make sure that our children see every day that we love God and that we love them, and that God loves them. If we build up that security, trust and faith in them while we are here, we have nothing to worry about when the time comes for us to go home to God, whether it be tomorrow, next year, or sixty years from now.