The final words spoken before death are significant both for those speaking them and for those of us who are listening. They are a glimpse into the compassionate heart of God.
I have often marveled at the words people utter just as they die. It has always been my belief that they are very important words, both for those speaking them and for those of us who are listening.
For years, these words were dismissed as nonsense, hallucinations or the result of medication and disease. Thirty-plus years of experience at the bedside of dying patients tell me otherwise.
In Acts 7:56, just before his death, St. Stephen was heard to say, “Look, I see an opening in the sky and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand.” As he was being stoned to death, Stephen was heard praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He knew to whom he was going.
In Glimpses of Heaven, I wrote about Mark, who sat up under his own strength moments before his death and said, “There it is. I can see it; it’s beautiful.” What was Mark looking at?
And then there is the story of Louis; when he was about to die, the nurse said to him, “God is making your place in heaven now; you will see a glimpse of it just before you go in.” To which Louis answered with a smile, “I can already see a little bit of it,” as he lay down his head and died. What did Louis see just before he died?
When Steve Jobs died late last year, he left a legacy of unmatched brilliance to the world. According to his sister, who was with him at the end, he looked slowly around the room at her, his children and his life partner. Then, looking past all of them, just as he took his last breath, he was heard to say, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” What did God allow Steve Jobs to see as he welcomed him home? Here was a brilliant man who had created so much in his life—and even at the moment of his death, God was still surprising him.