When my brother shot himself, there was one question that I had to come to terms with – one thing that I had to face head-on. The burning question in my soul could not be answered by any man, in order to satisfy it, I knew I must hear the answer from God alone. If He would not answer it, I knew this question would be lodged deeply in my soul, how could I get past it?
My question was not the typical ‘why?’ In this way I may have had it somewhat easier than someone facing death caused by an illness, or accident; in this case it was intentional, planned and deliberate. My brother had made his own decision about the life which he had been granted. I wasn’t happy about the decision that he had made, but the fact is that it IS – each one of us – our own decision to make. What will we do with our life? What will you do with yours? Yes, it WAS his decision. It was a poor one. I hate it.
The question that I knew I had to face in the moments after the physician made the final statement of the boy’s death (he was 21) was of the most horrifying of questions which anyone has to grapple with when someone passes from this mortal plain.
In other circumstances it would be easy to feel comfortable assuming that my loved one went to paradise. Unfortunately, not everyone who dies goes to heaven (this should not be too great a revelation for the atheist who believe in no afterlife). There is a place of eternal torment for those who perish in their sins; for those who have all their lives rejected God’s free offer of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ who died and descended to hell in our stead – all that he perfect lamb took upon Himself so that we CAN go to heaven.
One has to accept the free gift – please, reader, believe on the name of Jesus Christ, He is perfect love, who satisfied the ultimate penalty of sin, and paid the full price of justice by becoming our scapegoat on the cross. Without Him you will suffer everlasting torment for your sins – and that justly. (We live in a world where sin has no shock to us: we are desensitized to it, yet the fact is that all of the atrocities that have ever occurred in history, all sickness, and death are the result of JUST ONE SIN; for by the ONE sin of Adam we have fallen into this state where corruption abounds in humanity (Rom 5:12), people starve and are tortured, and death and sickness reign in the world unchecked. Remember that all this is the case because of JUST ONE SIN – and I have committed MANY. We have no idea the eternal consequences of what we do, our family – our RACE is filled with sin and corruption. We are so desensitized.)
Oh, but Jesus came one day – and He healed the sick, and raised the dead, He set the captives free. As Peter declared in the book of Acts, He ‘went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.’ More than what He did for those who lived in the days He walked the earth, He gave life also to YOU. He took upon Himself the penalty of our sins, and all we must do to receive His free gift is to agree with His sacrifice against our own corruption – this is called ‘repentance.’ We confess our guilt, and need for His justification, and commit our lives to live for Him in the light of that sacrifice, rather than for our earthly satisfaction, and human desires which lead us into this sin and death.
All this I knew, and had to stare this question in the face when my brother killed himself. He had professed to believe in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. He had been water baptized. Yet now he had done something contrary to life itself. He had murdered. Does that constitute rejection of He Who is Life Eternal (Jesus Christ)? Not only had he murdered, but he had murdered himself. God will forgive a murderer – this is under the penalty of Jesus’ sacrifice – but my brother had murdered himself. He could not repent of his act for once it was committed he had no longer the ability to regret, nor lament it. He could in no wise make restitution for the deed he had done – not in this world.
I am too honest with myself to look at the situation, and simply assume that my brother went to heaven. This may be easy for many people, indeed, when I posed the question, a friend of my brother’s seemed mortified that I would ask. ‘No, don’t talk like that, of course he went to heaven!’
Unfortunately, our standards of what a ‘good person’ is not ultimate justice. Each one of us will stand alone before God on the judgment day. I knew 4hat my heart was too committed to Truth to accept any other answer. I could not – would not pacify myself with the assumption that he was ‘in a better place.’ Where he was now, I must know, and I must know it for sure. What is more, it pertained to me that I should know it. That is to say, there are things which we want to know, but which do not pertain to us;we do not NEED to know them. But this question pertained to me.
I knew that God would reveal the Truth of the matter to me. I expected to hear Him – I just didn’t know when, or how He would answer. But I knew that as surely as my needfor an answer existed inside me that God would answer it – Himself. Here too is a lesson, friend. What I have just described is called ‘faith.’ Without this foundation in place, I could never hear from God at all, and if I did it would do me no good because I even hearing the Word I would be left vacilating:’was that really God? What if I misheard? What if I just made somerhing up? What if He changed His mind?’
Indeed without faith it is impossible to please God because everyone who comes to Him mjst believe that He is, AND that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). If I had not had this foundation stone in place when my brother died who knows where I would be now. Believe in God, friend, call on Hi while He may be found, for the time of testing will come, and woe to those who are not prepared! God help us!
Well, sorry for the heaviness of this, but bear with me, I am getting to the point of the blog’s title, but I need to lay some foundational thought as I take you through this journey.
I was sitting in the family room in the emergency section of the hospital. An older couple from my family’s church had come, and was sitting with us in that horrible cramped little room. I had not wept yet, the shock was too fresh. That would come in the following days as my dreams were plagued by that wonderful boy, and as memories slowly seeped their way to the forefront of my mind. I had spent who knows how long staring into the eyes of Job – my mother who’s sweater sleeves were covered in blood. She had found him, she was the only one home when it happened. Poor woman! She’d found her youngest, baby boy in his room with a great hole i his forehead.
I had prayed, and seen a vision. I had my answer when I saw the vision, but I knew there must be confirmation. Let every matter be established i the mouths of two or three witnesses. Though I had my answer I could not share it yet – it needed to be established.
As I now sat in that room with my mother, and the old woman from our church… she was the kind of old woman who spent all of her time in prayer, and ministering to others. Wonderfully spiritual, what a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God!
As I sat in that room, almost everyone else had gone out, making phone calls, or wandering the halls, I was enduring the momment, and waiting for my answer. I looked at the old lady, and I saw something. I don’t know how to explain this to anyone who is not somewhat familiar with the proohetic… I didn’t literally see anything, nothing physical, nor in this case was it a vision I saw in my mind’s eye, but I saw something supernatural. I knew that this old lady had recieved the Word of the Lord. So certain was I that I was just nearly about to ask her what she had recieved, but I waited.
In a momment she spoke. I knew that what she said was nkt fabricated because I had seen in the spirit that she had just recieved it from God. She declared that she had seen a vision of my brother standing with Jesus, he was i deep regret, and he said: “I’m sorry… I was so confused.” O sweet repentance! God may all who read this be reconciled to You through the shed blood of Your perfect Son!
I had seen a vision as well. Before my brother had died, perhaps two or three months prior, I felt as thougb the Spirit of the Lord had asked me if I woukd be willing to die for him (my little brother). My somewhat flipant response was: ‘Well, of course Lord, I have commited my soul to Your service. I have told You I would die for anyone at anytime shoukd it be in Your will, shoukd it benefit others unto salvation.’ (have you committed YOUR body, and soul to God, O reader? (this is the meaning of water baptism)Would you give all at a momments notice for my blessed Lord? He gave His all for you, beloved!)
But no, He would not let that flippant answer pass, and He gat hold on my attentions and seemed to ask it so seriously that I wondered if I would one day give my life for my brother.
Yet whe the boy shot himself, I had forgotten this exchange entirely. I had told my wife of it, who remembered, and reminded me later. When the Lord addressed this to me, I was moved and wrote my brother a prophecy. The word was that he did not yet know who he was in the Lord. I recall him staring a long time at the mesage I had written him. Who knows what he was thinking? Perhaps he was weighing the suicide he had already decided on…
I had seen as I waited and prayed in that hospital room, a vision of my brother finding a white stone. I knew what that meant was that while he had physically been overcome by demonic despair, the faith that was in him even through the midst of that despair and confusion had overcome the world. (see Rev 2:17 & 1 John 5:4)
This concludes part one.