It was a typical Sunday morning in our home full of hustle and bustle to get ready and out the door to church on time. I was helping my newly 4 year old get dressed when he asked, “Mommy. What is death?” I was slightly taken aback by the randomness and yet incredible depth that this question contained as I replied, “Well, death is when our bodies stop working or living.”
My hopes that this would satisfy as an answer and move us on to other topics were quickly dashed when he followed up with, “Am I going to die?” I finished putting his socks on and then sat down beside him on his bed. “Yes, someday.” I replied gently. To my sudden surprise and horror, his face scrunched up and large tears began to stream down his baby cheeks. “But I don’t want to die!” He cried.”I’m scared.” I’m sure in the sudden silence that fell around us you could hear the sound of my heart breaking in two. I fought back the tears in my own eyes as I pulled his little body close to mine and attempted to hug away the fear. “I’m scared too,” I said. “But, God promised us in His word, and through Jesus, that if we accept Him into our hearts and live our life loving Him, He would save us from death. Our bodies will die, but your spirit–the part of you deep inside you heart that makes you Harrison–will live on with Him in heaven. So you don’t need to be afraid, okay? Jesus loves you and as long as you love Him, He will always be with you.” I kissed his forehead and looked down to see the tears and fear had evaporated. He nodded and then raced off to find his shoes. I, however, was left behind sitting on his bed feeling a range of emotions I didn’t even know how to begin to sift through.
I was honest with my son when I told him I was scared of dying too. The older I seem to get, the heavier this looming truth seems to weigh on my mind. It is, after all, something we will all eventually face. And having no true idea of what happens next can start to bring on major anxiety when faced with the notion of ceasing to ‘be’. Despite my faith and the promise of salvation, I still wonder what truly lies ahead on this journey from our world. And its those unknowns and wondering thoughts that send my heart into a flurry of pounding fear.
Although there are a slew of scripture verses on this subject, I am constantly brought back to one in particular. “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Wherever you go. Even if when that place is death, God has promised us He will be with us. And we, as His children, are told to be confident and brave before this journey. Not to fear or become overwhelmed by its might, but to instead rest and lean on Him who has provided the way through.
I know this discussion I had with my son won’t be the last. And I know I don’t have all the answers to his questions or the ability to erase all his fears–especially when they are fears of my own, but what I do know is that God will meet us in our fears together. And I know with certainty that I can say to my child that God will be with him (us) wherever we go–even in death.