The Final Door

Maybe this is weird, but I actually read the obituaries. I’m fascinated how someone’s life can be summarized in two or three paragraphs. Certain things stand out—for some it’s their hobbies. Sometimes you can tell their work was their life and notable accomplishments are listed. At the end are the names of those who died before them and those family members that still have time left.

If life is like a run-on sentence, then death is the period at its end. Just so you know, I don’t spend lots of time dwelling on death, even if I do read the daily obituaries. Like most everyone else I don’t think about death until it comes close to me.

The final chapter of my father’s journey took him to the hospital intensive care.  My visits were limited to 20 minutes every two hours.  A nearby waiting area could be reached by walking down a long hallway. It was a typical hospital corridor painted institutional mellow yellow. What made this hallway unlike any other I have ever seen were the thirty large paintings lining the walls.

Each painting was unique, magnificent in detail, and all shared this focal point: a door. The scenes were as varied as the doors-- a home in a city, a rustic cabin, a glorious mansion, a beach cabana. Serene would be a good word to describe each one.  They also shared this: each door was slightly cracked open—not showing what was behind—but each seemed welcoming.

Death opens a door and we hope to arrive in a better place. But from where we are now, we do not know what is beyond the door. Those who’ve died can’t tell us. It comes down to what we believe and in Whom we have faith.

As a follower of Christ, I reflected on how Jesus told us that he stands at the door and knocks. He also tells of a narrow road leading to that door and few will find it. One thought is comforting; the other is not.

There are lots of religions out there. They each deal with the thorny topic of death. Christianity is very narrow in its approach. But this is good news, because it’s the only faith offering a free pass. Good deeds not needed. What's beyond the door is answered with a few moments alone with Jesus—recognizing who we aren’t and who He is. I don't have all the answers, but I have put my faith in the One I believe does.

During my father’s final weeks, I watched people walk down that hallway to visit loved ones who weren’t expected to live. Were they wondering what might be waiting on the other side of death’s door? One day we all will know.

If you’re reading this, my prayer is that when we all get beyond the door, I can see all of you again.

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