TRIGGER WARNING: this post contains content about suicide.
I was at work one day when the Lord struck my attention with a question: ‘Would you die for your brother?’
My younger brother had been the best man at my wedding maybe six months prior to this little conversation with the Lord. My wife and I married, and moved into the area where I had no job lined up; just shortly after moving into our first apartment by faith the Lord had opened my up then-present job, which met exactly the wage I was looking for.
The question struck me as odd, I had already committed myself to the Lord, and had told Him in prayer (even recently) that if my own death in this life would bring some other soul into the Kingdom of Christ, I was ready to die for them at any momment. Why did I sense the Lord was posing such a question?
By way of response, I prayed almost flippantly: “Yes Lord, you know I have told You I am willing to die for any sooul if they might be saved by it.”
Again, the Lord asked me, ‘Would you die for your brother?’ There was no more emphasis on the question than there had been the first time, but the fact that I clearly sensed it was the Spirit of he Lord asking – and that he asked a second time – told me I had better seriously consider my response.
So I did not answer immediately, I searched my heart. Would I really be willing to die for him… even specifically for him? Finally I answered in the affirmative, the Lord did not ask a third time but when I answered the second time I saw a bloody death in my mind’s eye.
Months later I had forgotten this conversation, but my wife reminded me of it. I still don’t recall telling her about it, but I recalled the experience clearly after she reminded me. She remembers because when I told her that I had comitted to die for my brother that day, she felt an instant of panic for me. Somehow she knew in that instant that he would die soon.
Some few months after I had had this conversation with the Lord, my wife and I had planned an evening event with the college campus ministry that we’d been participating with. We had a spaghetti dinner planned for the students, and had been in town all day doing our shopping, and making preperations. I had left my phone at home; we stopped at the bank for some business there. While we we in the bank the ambulance flew by on its way back to he hospital, carrying – unknown to me – precious cargo.
My wife needed to make one more stop, but she dropped me at home so I could start to get dinner ready for our guests. I checked my phone, and found that my older brother had been trying to get ahold of me. I called him back, first he asked where I’d been, I said: “Running erands. What’s up?”
“We’re at the hospital. Nathan shot himself.” The meaning of those words didn’t register in my brain at first, I asumed ‘shot himself’ meant he was with friends hunting (although I don’t know if he’d ever been hunting before) or playing with guns and shot himself in the leg or something.
I asked, “Where?”
“…in the head.” Then you realize it was on purpose… that something is far more wrong than you knew… and that now there’s nothing you can do to help… to fix it for him.
I don’t remember any conversation after that, but I must have gotten the information about what hospital, parking, etc. I called the pastor of the campus ministry; he graciously informed everyone who came for the dinner that there had been a family emergency.
I was in shock, but full of expectation; I was riding my recent background with the signs and wonders movement people. I had legitimately gotten a good understanding of the prophetic, and hearing God among them; we were like a spiritual special warfare unit with the campus ministry, and I went to the hospital praying about whether I was to raise Nathan from the dead. (He wasn’t officially dead yet.)
I certainly believe the Lord could have used me to do so, but mine was to listen – as ours always should be. Obedience is in two parts: 1) Listening (that we may hear the intent of the Spirit, only when we’ve heard the directive can we) 2) obey.
The Lord had spoken to me about this – though as mentioned, I did not recall it at the time, it was some months later that my wife brought it up, and I recalled the conversation. Other times, even before I had moved back to the area, He had spoken to me about Nathan’s situation.
I recall at least one specific time when I was living on the other side of the state when I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to pray earnestly for him. Also while in Florida at a ministry training event it seemed imperative to me to reach out to him; to connect with him. These were at times when I was removed from my family, and there was no reason for him to be consciously on my mind; it was the Lord bringing him before my eyes. It is evident to me that God did not want Nathan to kill himself, rather the Lord sought someone to intercede for Nathan. Who was listening? The lord knew what was going to happen, but he didn’t orchestrate it. He needed hands and feet to reach out to Nathan; the Spirit of the Lord was contending with his soul.
Do you empathise with the Lord?
As little as I like the rammifications of it, my brother had murdered himself; he had made his final choice about what to do with the life the Lord had given him, and it was his decision to make. We have been given sovereignty in this life; that sovereignty is granted by God for we were mandated in the begining to ‘have dominion’ over His created world (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8). We have the autonomy to make life and death decisions with eternal consequences. God sought Nathan, I could sense it, He even sought ministers to use to reach him. I pray that I did not let Him down. In the end, Nathan disobeyed the Lord, and His calling.
Was Nathan’s decision ‘selfish’? Frankly I despise it when people say so; yes despair is a self-centered by nature, but it is not selfish in a form of arrogance that takes the best for itself, but in a self-torturing way. To pass off suicide as ‘selfish’ is to belittle the sufferings of the one who committed it.
My family, a couple of Nathan’s good friends, and an elder couple from my parents church were at the hospital when my wife and I arrived. Technically Nathan was still alive, and we were allowed to go into the room with him, but not to touch his hands as they were to be untampered with for criminal investigation purposes (I presume to verify suicide by determining the fingerprints on the weapon were his).
I was three when Nathan was born; it’s one of my earliest memories. We must have stayed with my grandparents, and I had been toldmy new baby brother would be tiny. I remember seeing his body in the clear plastic incubator, and I thought: ‘He’s not tiny at all!’ He looked huge. In fact, he was the biggest baby my mom had had (I think like 11lbs) and at twenty-one he was the tallest of his three siblings. As a baby he looked big, and his skin seemed quite brown. As I stood over the hospital gurney and laid my hand on his muscled chest his face loomed pale, his eyelids were purple, blood crusted around his nostrils.
I don’t like hospitals. Several nurses stood and sat around, trying to be unobtrusive while I prayed over his body. I wish he hadn’t done that. I wasn’t angry… maybe a little at him for his decision; I knew the Lord had life to produce out of this situation. And perhaps that new life is yet to be realized in full…
We went back into the waiting room area, and in a little while a nurse or a doctor came in and announced he was officially dead. But was he really? I don’t think anyone wanted to consider the eternal rammifications of what he’d done – suicide is the last sin one can commit – but I had to know, and I knew that since it pertained to me, the Lord would reveal the Truth.
‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his plan to his servants…’ (Amos 3:7)
Some people think they cannot hear God, and maybe some of the things I’ve shared so far seem lofty for that reason, but Jesus declared plainly: ‘My sheep hear my voice…’ (John 10:27)
If you are a Christian, there is no question whether or not you CAN hear God’s voice. You DO hear God’s voice. The only question then is how much you honor His Word, this will begin to determine whether you recognize it when He speaks to you. What matters eternally is whether you obey. Can you be trusted to obey when you hear His voice? His sheep DO hear His voice, and He knows who they are… they are the ones who follow Him (again, John 10:27).
I could not… would not simply choose to believe he was in a better place. I had to face the Truth of the reality of the situation. Nathan was dead. Was he now to face the second death? Did he escape this life for a horrific eternity far worse than trials of this world?
I don’t know if the rest of my famiky wanted to KNOW this truth, or just assume for the best. I posed the question with my family, and one of my brother’s friends was doubtless in the latter category saying something on he lines of: “Don’t even think that.” But Truh speaks black and white in some matters, and I knew I would be tormented with questions forever if I didn’t face the question dead in the eye and accept the truth.
In fact, this is the process of the Gospel; it is the way of truth. Do you want to know the Truth? Are you willing to live with it if its consequences are not what you want? If most people in the world are going to burn in hell for eternity because they have rejected the Son of God in preference of their sins and temporal comfort, would you want to know it? Do you think God is loving enough to warn you so that you can be saved the fate of most?
After I asked the Lord I saw a vision in my mind’s eye – it wasn’t out-of-body or something, just on the screen of my imagination so to speak, like I had seen a bloody death in my mind’s eye – I saw Nathan finding a white stone. With the vision came revelation of its meaning. Revelation 2:17 says:
‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that recieveth it.’
And I understood: Nathan had been overcome with demonic despair; it had conquered his life. Yet the faith that was buried deep inside of him – which seemed to have been snuffed out with his life – was not snuffed out at all. While that faith had not been strong enough to overcome his temporal situation in the earth, it WAS enough to overcome death.
He who overcometh…
‘For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory hat overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?’ (1 John 5:4, 5)
Now I knew, and it was settled in me… and it was a comfort. But I also knew that my own testimony, as his brother would bring no assurance to others who would merely assume I believed what I wanted to believe about it. I knew he Lord would affirm this prophetically through another source. (‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every Word be established.’ (Deut 19:15; Matt 18: 16; 2 Cor 13:1))
As I waited for the confirmation (for I’d determined not to share my revelation until it came), I sat in the little waiting area with my mom, and the elders from our church. I saw the elder lady recieve a word from the Lord; this was a little different experience because I can never really explain how I saw that, there was no vision, or image but I saw her recieve something, and I knew it must be the confirmation I was waiting for. I wasn’t sure, however, if she even realized that she had recieved the word of the Lord, and was thought to ask what she had just experienced, but waited a momment and sure enough she spoke.
She said that she had just seen a vision of Nathan being recieved by Christ. He was appologizing, and said to the Lord: “I’m sorry. I was so confused.”
I think sometimes its good for me to share about these things somewhat for me… but more for others. I have had some difficult years since he died, it was somewhat like the begining of… well some hard things but perhaps not in the way you’d assume. The cost of actually listening to he Lord in this world is high, but He will never leave you nor forsake you. I have striven to make it a habit to get the bottom of the Truth, and believe and live by Truth alone. No will go with you on such a journey – no one but the Lord.
Yet the comfort that comes when we arrive at the Truth so that we KNOW it is wonderful; even if what we know is hard – and sometimes it is.
‘Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.’ (Proverbs 23:23)
I suppose even now i begin to realize the implications of the question the Lord asked me: ‘Would you die for your brother?’
Except a kernel of wheat fall to the ground and die it abideth alone, but if it die it will yield a crop.
I’ve gone on a journey since that time and discovered how full I was of the fear of man. How much I sought approval, sought to be accepted, sought to be valued and appreciated… by men. I’ve been rejected by family, friends, and ministries that I tried to participate in because I doggedly seek the Truth and then I believe it, and act on it when its revealed.
‘How can ye believe, which recieve honor of one another, and seek not he honor that cometh from God only?’ (John 5:44)
If we seek honor from men before we honor God’s word, how can we believe? If we seek honor from men we will believe what men will honor believing, not what God reveals. Don’t follow clutural (or even church) trends, follow Christ.
The Lord began at about that time… at exactly that time to teach me certain things that changed the course of my life.
‘That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye may also have fellowship with us: and our fellowship is with he Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.’ (1 John 1:3)
Would you have fellowship with Jesus Christ? The Lord yearns to be in fellowship with us; to be with us in all of life’s ups and downs. His yoke is easy, His burden is light… He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and WE HID as it were OUR FACES FROM HIM… (Isaiah 53:3)
The Lord seeks to commune with you, his sheep hear His voice, but when we seek honor from men rather than the fellowship of His presence, we hide our faces from Him who is our True friend and comforter… a friend who sticks closer than a brother.