“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.”
1 Cor.13:12, WEB
I have stood at death beds more times than I care to. In my ministry and in my family, I have witnessed the final whispers and gestures of this life. As this life ebbs, life which shall be turns tangible. There can be a glimpse of celestial vision. There may be exclamations of new understanding. There is often a blanket of peace which descends upon body and soul. A transition is taking place. The worlds of earth and heaven are being exchanged. What was obvious and flooded in light becomes shadow. What has been hoped for, but unseen, appears as a sunrise. What’s happening? I will let other theologians, doctors, and psychologists have their own say. Here is my sense from the Scriptures.
I am told that some who have been deprived of one of their five senses often find that another sense becomes acute. Those who have lost their sight may have sensitive hearing. The heightened senses do not experience automatic exchange, but a sensitivity nurtured by use. In the loss of one way to perceive, another way is opened. I believe the same principle is at play when we die. As death approaches, there is often a diminution of our physical senses. Those five tools we employed to experience and explore life become weak. They are no longer sufficient for what is ahead. But God is not far, and His gifts are not gone. In their place, God grants faith. God empowers this gift of seeing what was invisible to discern what has been real all along, but beyond the reach of our physical radar. The “dim mirror” Paul refers to, becomes translucent.
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer is a must read for all believers. In it, he writes of faith as a sixth sense given to us by God. The gift of spiritual perception is granted to all believers, but Tozer suggests, “The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime…sin has so clouded the lenses of our hearts that we cannot see the other reality…the world of sense triumphs. The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible…” Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. The material only obscures the spiritual if we live by 5 senses and not by 6. When we live materialistically, we allow faith to be dormant. Faith that is un-used or un-exercised, leads to a spiritual world that is un-known.
“Every man must choose his world,” writes Tozer. We live in a reality where the visible and invisible are conjoined twins. They are not the same, but neither are they separate. They co-exist, and I can explore both. By grace, I choose to give my 5 senses their proper role. There are things I know by sight, sound, touch and taste. But likewise, there are things I know by trust. Since our senses are nurtured by use, I want to live now in such a manner, that on my death bed, my trained faith will guide me. I won’t be surprised by what I see.