It was 40 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. My sister called, “We took Mom to the hospital today. It’s her heart. Doesn’t sound good.”
Mom lived 250 miles away. I immediately began planning to go to her side. I left the following morning
long before daylight, arriving at the hospital mid-morning. It was not visiting time in the Intensive Care Unit, but they let me in.
“Wade,” Mom said managing a smile, “they told me you were coming. I started to ‘go’ yesterday; but when they said you were on your way. I decided to wait.”
There were five of us siblings; but I, her minister son, was her favorite — a fact she tried unsuccessfully to hide. She waited for me to “go,” i.e. to die. Shortly after my visit with her, a nurse came to the waiting room. She spoke to my sister and me: “Your mother is dying; do you want to be with her?” We did. We stood beside her bed as she took her last breaths.
She was not that old, only 70. Yet, she was ready to go. She was still grieving my father’s death ten years earlier. She knew the Lord and readily spoke of going to be with Dad in heaven. What is significant is that she chose to wait about dying until her favorite son arrived.
I have known several persons who timed their departure from earth. I’m not speaking of suicide. I’m remembering those who said, “Stay a while longer. I won’t be here tomorrow.” Or, “God promised to come for me tonight.” Early in my 60 years of ministry, I learned to respect those words.
It sounds incongruous, but death is a part of life. Even the Bible tells us so: “It is appointed unto man once to die...” (Hebrew 9:27). “To everything there is a season ... a time to die...” (Ecclesiastes 3: 2).
Given the inevitability of death, we should plan for it. Here is a good plan: plan for death like you would plan for a trip. Later today, I will leave for an overnight trip. I’m confident I will be blessed by my journey, but I must leave my wife behind. Thus, I am doing everything I can to make life good for her while I am away; yet, I am looking forward to our being together again soon. Plan for death by preparing for those you will leave behind, but anticipating heavenly peace and your reunion soon.
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column, “The Shepherd Calls.”