Yesterday I visited a dying woman at the hospital. I do this sort of thing pretty regularly these days as a hospice chaplain. Her daughter was there, tearful but steady.
She said her family was Christian and that they were grateful in times like these for “salvation.” She choked up when I asked whether she had given her mother permission to go. Mom, she said, was probably lingering because she didn’t want her daughter to be saddled with all the final arrangements she was leaving behind. But that word “salvation”—much as it does often at the bedsides of dying persons here in the South—had hovered in the room as soon as she said it.
Funny thing, the way we can talk about salvation sometimes. In some circles, I hear the term as if it’s just another checked box on a long list of Christian-sounding jargon. But at the bedside of this dying person, “salvation” took on real meaning. For this woman, salvation meant she didn’t have to be quite so afraid of death, and that she would be reunited with her mother some day in paradise. Sure, she was still grieving, and she was still scared, but the grief, if pure, wasn’t unabated.
What kills me, pun intended, is the way most of us who believe the fundamental Christian truth that we’ll one day be resurrected can seem to relegate salvation to deathbed wishes. What if we actually lived our lives with this assurance, so that death really had no sting?
In our relationships and places of work?
In our churches?
At the gym? 100 lb dumbbells? Yes!
But seriously, deathbed wishes can be life-in-the-main ones, can’t they?
How does a promise of salvation change the way you live your life today? Come to think of it, would a series on salvation (what it means, its theological history, etc) be helpful? You can send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop them in the comments section below.