By Greg Schmidt, hospice chaplain
Both the NCAA and professional football seasons are steamrolling toward their respective championships.
I am a never-say-die fan of the Oklahoma Sooners and the Dallas Cowboys! The former provides me with energetic, creative, “always-in-the-hunt,” “don’t-take-your-eyes-off-the-ball” action! The latter frustrates me to the point I just want to turn the TV off … but I cannot do it.
I’ve never even considered rooting for other teams. Apparently, I love having my pigskin-related hopes, dreams and aspirations give way to golden trophies and diamond-encrusted championship rings … and/or slung to the proverbial floor on a weekly basis.
My ventures into gridiron fandom have taught me two of life’s most important realities. Namely, life is filled with positive realities and their counterparts. We often express both of them in the same saying. For instance, “Life is filled with ups … and downs.” “There is a fine line between winning … and losing.” “You cannot have your cake … and eat it, too.”
How about one more? “Death is a part of life.” In this saying, we don’t explore one option’s counter reality as much as bring together what may seem opposite. It seems obvious that we would want to link birth to the potential for one’s adventurous future. So much so, that it seems counter-intuitive to link birth to the mystery of what happens when we stop breathing or are declared “brain dead.”
The former we can explore … together. We see it! We touch it! We dream it! The latter leaves us wondering. Is there really a tomorrow called “heaven?” Can’t see it. Can’t touch it. At best, we can only have faith … and hope that it even exists.
I happen to put my trust in a God I cannot see and in a heavenly home I cannot describe aside from a few adjectives planted in my mind by words in a book called the Bible. And honestly, if it were not for the words of Jesus when describing the nature of and relationship with God, I’d say the unseen world I’m asked to believe in is most likely the result of 2,000 year old fiction and fantasy.
But Jesus, who I believe to be the ultimate “promise keeper,” said he was “going (ahead) to prepare a place” and would one day return to take us to live there with Him there. And I believe Him! Therefore, I trust Him!
Why do I think that matters? First, because then death being a part of life makes even more sense. Life’s positive realities and their counterparts can be held together. In glorious tension. It’s a heaven-centered, future-driven win-win!
There’s a second way it matters. Specifically, those of us who “have faith and believe” and are a part of the Heart & Soul Hospice team can more meaningfully provide loving care and healing comfort to our patients, who happen to be nearing their end of their earthly journey. The “Good News” our Hospice team has to share is that death is little more than their entry into God’s forever promise to love and care for us in ways our brains cannot possibly imagine.
We know that for a short while we may not be able to talk to those whose lives have provided us with shelter from life’s storms, the truth is that we will discover so much more in our heaven-centered adventure! But we to experience those promised truths, we have to die.
So when you sit down to eat turkey and all the trimmings later this month, say to yourself, “To those who feel as though their life has been thrown to the proverbial floor, I have ‘Good News!’ Because death is a part of life, each of us can choose to live in such a way as to bring life, hope and joy to another’s end-of-life experiences!”
Then, in humility, serve those at your doorstep who you choose to see as greater than yourself! Imitate Jesus, and give away grace and love and peace … while inviting others to follow you on your life’s hope-filled journey!