GETTING ON AN ELEVATOR
I made the mistake before one of my recent surgeries of looking up, the night before the procedure, exactly what was going to happen. It took those vague words “spinal laminectomy and lumbar fusion” and turned them into ones to inspire anxiety if not terror in the one who was facing the procedure. Google even supplied a couple of un-asked-for photos in addition to the text which were particularly unhelpful. Quite understandably, I could not sleep after that, turning in my mind over and over again what was going to happen the next morning, wondering what it would be like, if something might go wrong, and exactly how much pain and debilitation there would be afterwards.
Then I stopped myself by looking at the actual instructions given to me by the nurse. I was to arrive at the hospital at such a time, enter at a specific entrance, and get on an elevator to a certain floor. Those were my directions, and that was where my responsibility ended. I was not performing the surgery. I would not even be awake during it. I should trust the doctors and nurses and the hospital to do their part. I didn’t need to think about what would happen afterward – that wasn’t my part, and worrying about it would not help. I was just getting on an elevator.
I must also confess to a certain anxiety when it comes to the end of life. I have had enough health issues that have landed me in an ambulance or the hospital to know what it is to fear death. I have gotten myself worked up at times, wondering what it will feel like, if it will be quick and sudden, or long and lingering. How much pain will I and those I love have to endure during the process, and afterward…what will that be like? Surely it will be overwhelming, unlike anything else experienced here. Even the Bible writers seemed to struggle to find the words to describe the transition to the next life. “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is…” I John 3:2). “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (I Cor. 15:51-52). What will that translation to a new body and a new form and a new life be like? Will it be frightening?
Then…I stop myself. I look at my instructions. I am to read my guidebook, find the narrow way, and enter by the straight gate. Those are my directions, and that is where my responsibility ends. I should trust my God to do His part, which is to save me, to keep watch over my soul, and to send His heavenly angels to carry me across the void I can not pass by myself (Luke 16:22).
I am not in charge of performing the resurrection. I am simply getting on an elevator.