Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Of Life and Death

Life is so short.

I was once again reminded of that while at work as a chaplain for a local hospice where we live. 

I had spent considerable time with one particular family.  The mother was the patient, who was living with her daughter and son-in-law.  All said they were Bible-believing Christians.  I was thrilled to relate to them on the same spiritual level.  But then things started being revealed which saddened me. 

As the mother approached death, the daughter and the son-in-law were experiencing a lot of tension with each other.  Sam (as I’ll call the husband) was a mess.  He was shaking uncontrollably.  Was he prepared emotionally for what was about to happen with his mother-in-law?  Could he bear the burden of the tension with his wife who was stretched and stressed beyond description?

I spent a lot of hours with Sam at his house.  On that particular day, he confessed that he had a drinking problem—“a few cocktails every day,” as he put it.  His mental health wasn’t the greatest either, so he also took prescription medication to calm himself.  I saw him swallow his pills, but even they were not able to lessen his horrendous shakes.  And he was too hyper to sit down with me on the couch.

So we spoke for hours, standing up.  Mainly about the Lord.  Since he was also a musician, I let him break up the stress of the day by placating him—allowing him to place headphones on my ears to hear his favorite singers on YouTube. 

“Man, Sam, that guy has such a ‘liquid’ voice!” I said.

Sam smiled big and had a little boy’s eyes as I struck a chord with him by speaking his language.  I was so happy I could get a smile out of him.  All the while, his mother-in-law was in the next room gasping for her last breaths.  I had already spent lots of time with her, preparing her for what was to come and praying for a smooth transition into eternity with her Savior.

But with Sam, I was burdened.  He was concerned about and even frightened for his wife.  His shaking still dominated his hands and arms.  It was then that the Holy Spirit had filled me with supernatural boldness to say what I know He wanted me to tell Sam:

“Sam, I understand your mental issues.  I even understand your stress, considering what’s happening now in your family.  But I really feel that the Lord wants you to rid your house of all alcohol and for you to take your God-ordained position as spiritual head of your marriage.  Sam, God may not change the strain on your wife, but as for you, He wants YOU to step up and put Jesus Christ back in as the center of your life, in your marriage, and in this house.”

I said a lot more, but to be honest with you, I can’t remember.  The words just flowed and flowed and I had the feeling I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.  But I knew that each and every word I spoke was from the Lord and was meant to be a direct hit into this precious man’s heart.  And they were.

Sam looked at me frozen.  His eyes, again, gleaming with the innocence of a little boy.  He was speechless at first, although his lips tried to form words. 

Then he took a deep breath, nodded, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “Anthony, you’re right.  I know you’re right.  But it’s going to take an intervention team to help me.”

I told Sam that I understood and that he really should start that intervention as soon as possible.

Sam’s mother-in-law died that evening.

Six days later, Sam was dead, too.

I was called to the house—a house full of police and detectives.  His wife told me that Sam felt bad for her because it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, and it was only days after his wife’s mother passed away.  So he suggested they go out to a popular café and “celebrate” Mother’s Day.

And celebrate they did.  This particular café served alcohol.  Sam had consumed several shots of hard liquor.  He even bought rounds for many at the café.  They were so inebriated that they took a taxi home and passed out.

The next morning (yesterday), Sam’s wife turned to him with a glass of water and found him dead in bed.

I miss Sam so, so much.  When I spent that last day with him, I was thinking this guy could be a friend of mine, someone I could invest in and mentor, someone I could see blossom into a beautiful man of God.  He was so soft-spoken and gentle, yet his vices ravaged his soul.

Pray for his wife, too.  She lost her mother and husband within a week.  Pray for healing in her soul.

I write this story because I wanted to say that God reminded me of something yesterday…

He is real.

His love for us is TANGIBLE.

He is serious about us being healed of all the demons that haunt us…at any cost.

And finally, God will go to the ends of the earth (which He did, in Jesus) to see us whole. 

To give us hope.

To love us to freedom.

I hope all of you will do what I just did tonight—I held my kids a little tighter, telling them how much I truly love them, and how much a loving heavenly Father loves them even more.


  1. I am so sorry :( yes, will pray for Sam's wife.

    1. Thank you, Susan. Yes, pray for Sam's wife on many levels. The police are still not sure what happened exactly.

  2. Oh my brother - While I'll pray for Sam, his MIL - and certainly his wife - I'll also ask the Father's Blessing on you...I know that ache you feel...in the course of my professional life I've had to deal with too many survivors of victims of tragic accidents and sensless violence...

    You know Francis of Assisi is a "hero" of mine, it's times like this that you have to hold to his words from the Prayer for Peace...

    Well done my friend - well done...

    hugs - aus and co.

  3. Ah, thank you, my friend. I remember you were in law enforcement. I have so much respect for what you encountered regularly. You surely had the grace of God at work in your life!

  4. Oh my gosh, that sentence that said that Sam was dead made me feel nauseaus, that poor poor family. I hope that they feel love flowing towards them now

  5. Makes my heart feel so heavy. I will pray for Sam's wife. She needs Him more now than ever. Are you able to Minister to her? Or is there a Sister who can be there to walk beside her? Prayers for you, as well, Anthony. I love your heart. And, I love your obedience and that you are willing to walk along side those who are in very painful places. ~ Jo


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