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The Night I Died

March 30, 2014

Death has been lurking about, trying to intimidate and overcome us at the school campus.  

Earlier this year, death took Austin McReynolds,  a fine young man who graduated three years ago from our school.  He was walking down a road and was struck and killed by a drunken driver.  Austin’s testimony, even these years later, was that of a sincere and open Christian young man who cheered those around him and eschewed imagethe worldly and the hypocrites.  As a Christian, he was the real deal.

Death dealt another blow when recent GCA grad and current Navy cadet Will McKamey, fine football player and even finer Christian leader, collapsed on the Navy football practice field.  He went into a coma and never recovered.  He leaves behind a loving family, especially Sam, brother who suffers from cerebral palsy. Sam is one of my current students.

Death took the lives of one of the young mothers at my church, an inexplicable reaction to a routine medicine. It happened barely a month ago.

Death stole my older brother from me two years ago.  A massive heart attack took Bruce right before he was to start his shift at work.

Over this weekend my wife Jill received a call from her dad:  her mother Marlene was suffering from abdominal pains, and could we take turns watching over her during exploratory testing at an Oak Ridge hospital?  We started taking shifts in being by her side, but during Jill’s time at the hospital, Marlene went into a severe and unexplainable downturn.  It was only through the heroic efforts of the staff  and the mercy of Jesus that she survived the collapse.  The puzzling thing is, nobody knows what caused her system to shut down.  She is still in the hospital as I speak.  We’ll continue to trek back to the hospital and see the results of the voluminous tests and scans performed.

Filthy, stinking Death.

Nobody asked you to come, you arrogant beast.

Not a soul wants you around, yet you barge in on our lives, rude and unannounced.  You try to petrify us with fear and stultify us with grief.  You try to dominate our thoughts with terror and shackle our lives with confusion.

Well, you’ll have an unpleasant experience on Monday.

Will’s funeral is tomorrow and, Death, you want the victory, I imagine.  You want unconsolable mourning and raging grief, don’t you?  Well, you’re not going to get it.  The power of Christ will rule and reign in the packed church auditorium.  His family will give testimony to Will’s salvation and their hope for the future. This will be a time of victory, because we know where Will is, just as we know the final destination of Austin.  Death, you’ve lost your sting.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you of this next story.

I decided I’m going to go through with it, though, because the memory of it planted a calmness in my heart so deep, I’m going to share it with you.  It was a dream so vivid that I often weep whenever it comes back to memory.

I dreamed that I was dying, but … well, let me try to set the scene.

There was a stage.

At first I was alone.

There was an audience.

There were voices. Other-worldly voices.

It was dark, but there was light streaming from somewhere…

In my dream I was told plainly that it was my time to die.

Strangely enough, I accepted this with no resistance.  The angelic messengers – whom I could not see – were gentle but firm.

“Brad, it’s time to leave this world.  It’s time to go.”

I glanced toward the sound of their voice and found myself located in a familiar place.  I was standing alone on a stage of a small lecture hall, one that looked strangely familiar to me.  It was the Concert Center of the university that I had attended for my undergraduate degree.  The voices were directing me to look toward a half-opened door at the end of the stage.  Glorious light streamed through the doorway, and I had to squint at the brilliance.  This, I knew, was the doorway to Heaven, and the threshold was death.   Jesus was on the other side.  This was the culmination of all I had hoped for!

Yet I was confused as to why I was on stage.

Until I turned and looked at the the people in the audience.

I recognized faces.

Each and every face I saw was the face of someone who had a part in leading me to salvation.  I recognized those who played a role, planted a seed, shared a truth – no matter how small – in giving me the Gospel so that I could find salvation and receive eternal life in Jesus Christ.

I saw Eric Frazier, the college student who lived with us when I was a teen, who would sit and answer every question I had about the Bible with a true and fervent spirit.

I saw the elder Mrs. Soo, the Chinese Good News Bible teacher whose  genuine love for Jesus gave me a thirst for the Lord.

I saw my one-time pastor David Halcomb, a kind and gentle man that was as compassionate away from the pulpit as he was behind it.

I saw Timmy McClure, a boyhood friend who radiated the love of Christ every day.

And, God bless her, I saw my mother.

I walked to the front of the stage and gestured towards the door.  “It’s time for me to go.”   The members of the audience quietly nodded.

In the dim lighting I looked out at the faces and recognized others.  My sister Gwen, my brother Brent, country preacher Jim Woods, camp counselor Marv…

My heart was full of love, and I had to pause to collect myself.

I gathered my composure and repeated.  “It’s time for me to go.”

“But I wanted to thank you.  Thank you so much for making this glorious moment possible. To each of you who played a part, thank you.”

And then I turned and happily walked through the door.  I have won.

Do you hear me?  By Jesus’ sacrifice, I have won.

I’m sitting here and crying profusely as I type this, wiping my eyes because I can hardly see the keyboard.  Joyful tears they are, though.  This is the only way I can share this; whenever I speak of this before a crowd I fall apart, so profound and dear this dream is to me.

Sure it’s a dream, but it’s based on the reality of hope I have in my hero, Jesus Christ. It’s based on Christians who cared enough to reach out to me.  It’s based on the reality that one glorious day Death will go down in defeat.  Humiliating, humiliating defeat.

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O grave, is your sting?

 

 

—————–

Please stop by and visit the volumes of great Christian reading online at Mustard Seed Resources.  www.mustardseedresources.clearcheckout.com

Bookstore owner Barb Hyde ships anywhere in the world.  Build your Scriptural reading shelf, my friends.

 

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One Comment
  1. Wonderful post, God bless you! Would you consider becoming a contributing author on The Christian Gazette, http://thechristiangazette.wordpress.com?
    You can post original posts or simply repost what you post here. Please do consider it. Patricia aka loopyloo 305

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