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August 25, 2019 - Sunday 4:08 AM by JD Vergara

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Last Thursday night, we went to the wake of a church member and after the religious service had a short but interesting talk with some friends. The daughter of the deceased related how her father, during the last hours of his life, talked to her mother saying, “dali diri mang.” But her mother died a couple of years ago. Stories like these are common and chances are that you may have also heard or personally experienced this. 

A friend casually explained the phenomenon and saying it was the memories of the dying coming back in vivid colors displaying these images of dead relatives or friends. I disagreed, reasoning that the person experiencing it is actually conversing with what he sees. Nobody “converses” to his memories. The person acts like there is a real person before him and he is interacting with that person in real time. Our small conversation then progressed topics like Near Death Experiences or NDE and religion.

On the last scheduled public viewing of Gina Lopez’s remains, the latter’s brother Ernie Lopez related the former’s last state. “She’s prepared. She said the angels are waiting for her. I hope we can make public some of her last words. She was saying that she feels that heaven is beautiful, it’s ready for her and it’s waiting for her,” Mr. Lopez said. Personally, I do not doubt these experiences. To me they are real and they point out to our utter ignorance of the afterlife. She says that heaven is beautiful and it is waiting for her.

What made her say these words with sheer conviction? Perhaps in the last days or hours she truly felt those convictions and may have been already excited to go there. If this is the case, I too desire that privilege, and I say privilege because we don’t have a say into these things. When it’s my time I hope things here on earth would recede from my consciousness and the things of heaven coming in the forefront and become more real – a kind of welcoming into what we call “heaven.”

Heaven for me is God himself. He is heaven. When I die, I will go back to Him who gave me life. The Apostle Paul said that to be absent in the body, that is, to die, is to be present, that is, to appear with the Lord. Heaven is also “rooms” or a place. When Jesus was about to suffer, he comforted his disciples with these words: 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going away to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

This also means that those who believe in Christ and follow him will have this assurance. He is preparing a place for them and would welcome them when the time comes. If you live your life loving the Lord, this is highly desirable. We live for the things we love. And if we love Christ, then death, for all its negative aspects, has no power over us. Paul exclaimed: “Oh death, where is your sting!” In light of heaven death has no sting.

Gina’s life can be a model for all of us. She lived with a mission and a clear purpose. She had an advocacy – something to live and die for. Above all, she lived an unselfish life, even thinking for others during her last hours. As followers of Christ we have his mission, his Kingdom as our advocacy and we serve him until the last hours of our lives. Whatever we aRE doing in life, we think of these as acts of service to the one we love with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.