“It’s for you,” my manager hands me the phone. It was my brother, “Pete! You need to come home now; Dad’s having a heart attack! The ambulance just arrived.” My brother was in obvious distress, I heard it in his voice, I knew this was serious. My heart raced as the adrenaline surged through my body, I handed the phone to my manager and said, and “I have to go, sorry, it’s an emergency.” Fortunately I wasn’t more than five minutes away from home. With emergency vehicles lighting up our street, I parked the car and ran inside. Upon entering the house I saw firefighters and ambulance attendants performing CPR on my Dad. Though I only caught a glimpse of him, shirt off, hooked up to machines and surrounded by emergency personnel, it felt as if time stood still. I just couldn’t process what I was seeing. No one in our family, this close to us, had ever died. In reality, nothing could have prepared us for this. The paramedics and firefighters worked for an hour without having a pulse return. The death of my Dad was absolutely devastating to our family.
Looking back to the event, now almost ten years ago, I realize that death is devastating because death severs the relationship with our loved one. The reality of death really affected many different areas in my life. It also shattered that doubt that we all have, the doubts about our own invincibility or the death of others. As a young adult, at the time, I realized I was wrestling with the thoughts about death that I had suppressed as a young child. What happens when you die? Is there life after death? Will I ever see them again? These were the questions I had suppressed that came rushing back, in real life.
Our culture is fascinated by near death experiences. We hope that people who’ve briefly peered over the edge can give us a glimpse into the unknown. Yet, though we find the clues in these stories fascinating, what we need is not the testimony of a near death experience, but that of a death experience. If we want conclusive evidence that there is life after death, it would require the witness of a person that has fully experienced death. -Steiger, Thinking?, page 143.
The Christian claim is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that counts as a death experience. If it’s true that Jesus rose from the grave then that would mean it would be possible that the afterlife exists and that relationships could go on after we die. Our desire for the afterlife is really a desire for eternal relationship. This is the reason Christianity is worth every minute of my investigation. The answer to that question can literally change the way you see the world and live your life. It can satisfy a hope that every heart longs for. It’s up to us to consider the evidence so that we can know for sure that our hope is justified with good reasons.
Three months before my Dad died of a heart attack, my mother had a vivid dream. All she told me was that “we need to pray for Dad.” My mom and I prayed for my Dad and in those last months we experienced so much restoration and joy in our relationships as a family. It was arguably the happiest time of our lives over that Christmas break. God had given us a gift, and even though neither of us knew how devastating the outcome would be; God was gracious to us and sustained us through the darkest part of our lives.