Are you dead or alive? Is it hard for people to tell?
Janina Kolkiewicz is a 91-year-old Polish woman. In January 2015 she had a near-death experience. She woke up one day in a body bag placed in cold storage at the morgue. She had been there for 11 hours.
The family had discovered her lifeless body, and a doctor actually pronounced her dead. Some of the people working at the morgue noticed the body bag started moving. That would be an alarming experience – especially if you are working alone! After observing it for a little while, one person opened the body bag and discovered that Janina was very much alive.
She was complaining about being cold. The first thing she wanted was a hot bowl of soup. People thought she was dead, but she was still alive.
A lot of people have some challenges with the IRS. Most folks are trying to find some way not to file tax returns, but a 94-year-old World War II veteran, Siegfried Meinstein, has been trying to file a return. The IRS won’t let him because they insist that he is dead.
Siegfried is very much alive. Only the government is declaring him “deceased.” He actually received three letters from the IRS insisting that he is “deceased.” Now that could be a bit unsettling. Siegfried’s son told him that he shouldn’t let the IRS upset him. He made a very philosophical statement, “Eventually they’ll be right.”
His son is correct. Every person will one day be deceased. The Alabama Bureau of Statistics still says that one-out-of-one will die. Nobody will escape it. Comedian Woody Allen once said he didn’t mind the thought of dying – he just didn’t want to be there when it happened. He will be.
I heard a cute story about a first grade class that had been photographed. The teacher was trying to persuade each child to buy a copy of the group picture. The teacher said, “Just think how nice it will be to look at when you are all grown up and say ‘There is Jennifer. She is a lawyer. There is Michael. He is a doctor.’” About that time a small voice at the back of the room rang out and said, “And there is the teacher. She is dead.”
But death doesn’t have the last word. That is reserved for God who gave us life to begin with. Billy Graham said, “One day you will hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t believe it. On that day I will be more alive than I ever will be!”
Jesus promises, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25)
While we don’t like to talk about death, it is a reality that each of us will one day face. I just want to make sure that I live life fully before death comes. I don’t want to wind up in a cold morgue in a body bag while I am still alive. I don’t want to have to try to prove to the IRS that I am alive – I just want to keep paying my taxes and using the rest of my money for something that really counts!
When I die I want to know that I will continue to live. Jesus has that answer!