|Sarah and Mercy, age 2|
October 21, 2004, about 5:30 p.m. - Bill lay quietly on his bed at the nursing home in Riverview. His eyes were closed; there was no response from him. His wife and I talked quietly to him and to one another. Every once in a while we stopped to listen to his breathing.......shallow.......with pauses......in between. Several times we leaned over waiting for him to breathe again.......15 seconds passed. Come on, Bill, breathe. There it was........another long, slow exhale. Minutes later, there was a 20 second interval between breaths. We talked quietly on about how wonderful of a man he was, how she loved to serve him and make his life happy.......a long pause again.......20 seconds passed.......then 30......I leaned over to listen for his next breath. I took his hand and tried to find a pulse. No more breaths came, no pulse. He was at rest. Bill entered heaven with joy and rejoicing. The pain and suffering of recent months was all gone; He was seeing his Savior face-to-face. For his wife, a time of sorrow and relief. Losing a husband two times in 5 short years was not easy. What a privilege to be there with her and with Bill as he took his last breath.
Such were the experiences I had just three weeks apart that fall. As I drove home after Bill had died, the words of the verse in Genesis 2:7 came to my mind, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breathe of life; and man became a living being." I had watched Sarah and Mercy breathe their first air; I had watched Bill breathe his last. Yes, the babies were very much alive in the womb with their needed oxygen coming through the placentas from their mother's blood, but seeing them take in air for themselves for the first time was amazing. Who tells them to do that? Think of all the physiological changes that must take place for this to happen. And for Bill, who told him to breathe his last? Why at that moment? "For it is appointed unto man, once to die....." God! He is the answer to the first and the last breath we take. He is the source of all life. He gives it; and He takes it away. And as many have said through the centuries along with Job, "...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21b
Obviously, if you are reading this article, you are breathing. You probably don't even remember your first breath of life at your birth, and most of you were not conscious of your breathing throughout today.....unless you felt out of breath chasing two toddlers all day! When will your last breath be? At this point in time, only God knows. Are you ready? Will you be ready when your last breath comes? Do you know what will happen to you then? The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27 that "...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." If you have acknowledged your sin to God and asked Him to be your personal Savior, since He has already paid the penalty for your sins on the cross, you can be absolutely assured that you will be with Him. If you are not sure what will happen to you when you breathe your last, please read the following verses from the Bible:
Romans 10:9, 10, 13 "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.....for 'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
From our first breath to our last....."Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow." Psalm 144:4 Because of that, let everything that has breath, praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6