When a person we love is dying, we seem to see things more clearly. We can learn a lot from those times.
I wonder: Does the passing of someone crack open the door to heaven and allow God’s light to spill out, making it easier for us to see for a while?
God is a spiritual being who is supernatural, but also invisible. Amazingly, as we rush through life, we are surrounded by the spiritual all the time, but we rarely recognize it. We can only “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
But, as death approaches, it seems the supernatural becomes more visible. And it can be life-changing what we learn when someone is dying.
Recognizing Dying as a Passage
Death is a doorway we all pass through. That passage can be frightening, horribly so to those who turn their backs on God. But, it can also be a time of profound richness, discovery, and clarity.
A time when things come into focus, such as the people we sometimes take for granted, the life moments we often miss, and the miracles we overlook.
All of us will lose loved ones in the future. At times, making that journey with someone facing death may be a divine appointment we are called to keep, and it can turn into a holy experience.
I have a friend going through it now. His dad is 92, and the cancer has spread from his lungs into the bones. Two weeks in the hospital have led to bringing him home, but for hospice, not recovery.
It is an emotional period for the family. But, it is also a significant and deeply spiritual time. My friend is traveling this passage with his dad, sharing special moments and honoring his father. Not waiting for the funeral, but ensuring his dad hears “Well done” from people he loves.
I don’t know what my friend will see during these last days with his dad. But, it will be special.
When the Supernatural Seems Natural
A few weeks after our first son was born, my father was diagnosed with cancer and told he had months to live. We lived 600 miles apart, and Dad had not yet seen our son, so our visit home would be a bittersweet occasion. And our son had colic—wailing every evening—to make things worse.
But, God stepped in. During the drive home, the colic inexplicably disappeared. A small miracle perhaps, but one my wife and I clearly recognized and appreciated.
Four years later, defying all odds, Dad was still with us. Times with him had become deeper—sadder, but closer—than they would have been otherwise. The specter of his passing was a prism through which we saw life more clearly: what was important, and what needed to be talked about.
God seemed nearer, and the spiritual world a bit more discernable than in normal times.
We had moved closer and were visiting my parents one weekend. Dad had been admitted to the hospital, but only for precautionary tests. My wife and kids had to return home on Sunday, but I stayed an extra night, an odd decision with work the next day and no other car to drive home.
Early the next morning, the hospital called. I then knew why I had to be there: to drive my Mom to say goodbye to her husband of 40 years. Dad was gone, but I clearly saw that God stepped in again.
What We Learn When Someone is Dying
This is what we learn when someone is dying: Don’t wait until the people close to us are sick to spend time with them, honor them, and tell them we love them. Do it today. And then do it again.
If we don’t know what to say, we can model our words after what God spoke—twice, both times audibly—when he said: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). And let them hear what all of us so long to be told, which is simply, “Well done.”
This is also what we learn when someone is dying:
- God loves us deeply, so there is purpose in our lives.
- We should love the people around us the best we can all the time.
- The decision to surrender to God—or not—is what matters in the long run.
Always understand that though God may be invisible, he is very present. Expect him to act, and look for miracles to come along. Each day, become more aware of moments of relationship, snapshots of beauty, and glimpses of the eternal. Love God well, and let him love you.
We should all begin to think of the supernatural as natural. Then, live that way all the time.
Question: If you were dying, what things do you think you might see more clearly?
Action: Think of someone you should spend time with, honor, or tell you love them.