“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
I received a vision a few years ago, in which I witnessed what appeared to be my death. To be more accurate, the vision unfolded as though I was living in the moment. It began with me standing in a wooded area, and then I remember falling, possibly pushed, to my knees in front of a tree stump. I believe my hands were bound behind my back. I recall looking forward, and to my right, stood a tall, stocky man holding a large ax. The man’s attire made me think of something out of Medieval Europe. Next, I turned to my left to find a friend also on his knees. The expression on my friend’s face was peaceful, and then I turned my head forward again. I felt the grace of our Lord with us both, in that moment, and then the vision ended. The whole vision happened in a flash, in the afternoon, right smack in the middle of a normal conversation, coincidentally, with that same friend. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
Fast forward a few years, with ISIS beheadings of Christians, among other groups, on the news, and all over the internet, and those images prompted an eerie reminder of what I was shown before. All of a sudden, my vision didn’t seem quite as farfetched. I’ll confess that if this vision turns out to be false, or I’m mistaken in my interpretation, or events just work out differently (the vision did end shy of any heads being removed), then I probably won’t be too disappointed. But if it turns out to be true, then I suspect the world will have changed drastically from the one we know today; the life we know will have passed away; that’s my own feeling, at least. After speaking seven woes, to the teachers of the law, in Matthew, Jesus concludes his reprimand, by saying, “Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation” (23:34-36). And after foretelling, of his own death, in John, Jesus comforts his disciples, and us, by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So, whether I live to a ripe old age and die quietly in my sleep, or enter eternity by way of an executioner’s ax, God is good!
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