In Memory of Beth Overacker, and What Lies Beyond
email@example.com — May 18, 2016
I usually heard Beth before I saw her, her pixie voice bouncing down the hall, and I would be glad that she was assigned to our end of the ICU. Before long, her blonde head would pop around the corner. She’d rummage through the fridge looking for IV Zosyn and scatter bits of sunshine around the nursing station.
She was half the size of most of her patients, especially the burn victims who were swollen and covered from head to foot in gauze, but she boosted, turned, and slathered them in Silvadene just a quickly as anyone. Beth’s real gift, though, as burn trauma nurse, was making friends with family members, adding lightness and warmth to the stark rooms where their loved ones hung in a balance between life and death.
But now, Beth is gone. She was young and full of life and her departure was too soon. She had years of love left to give her kids and hundreds of patients left to care for. The sadness I’ve felt since hearing the news has left me thinking about what lies beyond this world.
Heaven gets a lot of misleading press–all that business about sitting on clouds and playing harps. Thankfully, that’s not how the Bible describes it. Beth would be bored with that; I know I would. She’d be itching to do something meaningful, to make someone’s day. Instead, the real Heaven will have skyscrapers of gold and a dinner party that will blow the socks off every five star restaurants in history. It will be populated by nations and kings, which means there will be culture, politics, and jobs, but without anything evil, painful, or sad.
Heaven will be a lot like this world, but infinitely better. Everything that glows here will shine brighter there, while everything bad will get debrided like eschar from a wound.
Deaths, especially sudden ones, makes me realize for a moment that we’re all standing on the brink between this world and the next. Our lives are fragile.
While the Bible offers a dazzling picture of Heaven, it’s not the only picture it paints. Heaven is only one of the destinations beyond the brink and while it’s certainly the one we want to arrive at, there’s a lot of different advice on how to get there–go to confession, believe in Allah, be a good person, follow Jesus, make sure that your good days outnumber your bad ones. They can’t all be right, though, and thankfully the Bible clears that up too.
Heaven isn’t the paycheck we earn for being a good person; it’s a gift, sort of like the family vacation those lucky people get to go on because their parents are rich. Heaven is God’s gift to the people in his family and, while that might sound exclusive, God offers to adopt anyone who will put their trust in Jesus. He died on the cross to take the punishment for all the bad we’re ever done so that God could accept us into his family. The Bible puts it this way: “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” For God’s children, Jesus is waiting on the other side to welcome them into Heaven.
For now, though, we miss our friend. We ache with her family, pray for her children, grieve that this world has lost such a beautiful woman.