Death; January 18, 2023

Acts 14:19-20 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

This is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it was a pivotal one for Paul. I’m sure it was what he was referring to in the first part of 2 Corinthians 12, where he saw heaven and heard things directly from the Lord. Such “near-death experiences,” as they are called, aren’t something we can orchestrate, but there is a growing body of evidence showing that they are real. For example, there are numerous cases of people coming back and reporting things that they could not have known, much less seen physically, relating to their “death.” The majority of the reports we hear are from people who had good experiences, whether they get as far as heaven or not, but there are some cases of people who saw hell, and, not to be flippant, it scared the hell out of them, driving them to devout faith. There are some scientists who concede that this body of evidence points clearly to the soul being distinct from the body and existing after physical death, but there are some who still try to insist that all of these things arise from such things as oxygen deprivation in the brain. They are so stubborn in their rejection of a Creator to whom we are accountable! Those who have had such experiences rarely if ever take such a stance. Theology aside, the logical response would seem to be to act as if there is a Creator, because that would have no negative eternal consequences, but the reverse would be disastrous by definition.

All of this is close to home for me because my wife had a near-death experience in February, 1975. She had been hanging up laundry outside and her chest started to hurt, so she asked me to finish the job and she went in to lie down. I won’t go into all the details she reported to me later, because it was her experience and not mine, but it certainly erased all her fear of death. Since then, her concerns relating to death have all been in terms of those she would leave behind, and not for herself. Having lived with her all these years, I have no question that her experience was real. Accordingly, I too live in the assurance that our time here is passing but our fellowship with the Lord is for eternity. Having already outlived my father by over 10 years, I look forward to that eternity but at the same time desire to accomplish every purpose the Lord has for me in this life. Like my wife, I too am concerned for those I will leave behind, but at the same time, I know that God is more than able to take care of them. It seems logical to me, and to some close friends with whom I’ve discussed it, that I would have an easier time than my wife if the other went first, but that’s in God’s hands. However He has planned it, I know I have nothing, really, to worry about.

Father, thank You for this assurance. I encounter few people who really have it. Help me so live that others will receive faith through me, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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