A Mother's Dying Wish
March 22 05
I'm sure you've all heard about the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. The battle has been ongoing for years now, but this past weekend, the situation intensified. The United States Congress got involved by drafting a bill that would require doctors to re-insert Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube. The President signed the bill. As of this writing, the courts had not yet ruled on the bill as it pertains to Florida law.
Something else happened this past weekend that made it all a little more personal. I have known all my adult life that my mother would have us refuse all life-sustaining medical procedures should she be in a similar situation to Mrs. Schiavo. My mother is now 78 and has decided to put her wishes into a "living will." Last October, she met with her lawyer and he drew up the papers. One of my five brothers is the executor to the will and I am the alternate. I was supposed to have received a copy of the living will months ago, but it never arrived. I forgot about it.
Then, just as Congress was about to convene for the Schiavo case, an envelope arrived in the mail from an attorney in New Hampshire. As I said, I had always known of my mother's wishes. We have talked about it often over the last few years. But now, as I read over this living will and hear the latest about Terri Schiavo, the issue has become much more clouded.
I do not believe that getting the federal government involved in a family issue about a feeding tube is appropriate or wise. I understand that the families involved may have seen no other way. So many court rulings had already been handed down, but the battle continued. Where do you go from there? But is it wise to set federal precedent with this bill? I will leave that issue for now.
I have never been one to advocate for any life sustaining treatment or equipment. I believe that man has far too much power over life and death. When the body is in such a state that it cannot keep itself alive without the intervention of human technology, it's time to let it go. Some may argue that God has given us the technology, so it is His will that we use it. I would argue that God has allowed us to invent many things in this life, but He is deeply grieved that we would put them to use. We invented cloning and some day we will be able to successfully clone humans for the sake of extending life, but does that mean God wants us to do it?
But now the issue is a little more personal for me, for I have the responsibility to make sure my mother's wishes are carried out. If I knew that my mother was a believer in Jesus Christ and would go home to Heaven when she died, I would have no reservations about seeing her living will executed to its fullest extent. As of this writing, however, she is not a believer. She certainly believes in God and that is why she believes the way she does about life and death -- it's all in God's hands. The problem is, she does not believe in the God of the Bible, the one who is still sovereign in the lives of individuals, the one who wants to have a relationship with us, the one who died for us. She does not believe that Jesus is God. She does not believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell.
We have talked many times about salvation, but she refuses to believe. It deeply grieves me to think that I must argue for her death knowing that she will go to Hell. But then I have to wonder why she is still alive. There were several times in her life when she was on the edge of death, but God would not allow her to die. Why is she still here? She is all alone. She has no one to care for. She is the only one left in her immediate family. She has no familial responsibilities. She has no faith. She has no hope. What is God waiting for?
I grieve over the loss of my Dad who died 15 years ago. I don't know where he is. He was loved by everyone. He was a great guy. But was he saved? I don't think so. He never talked about God. He never wanted to read the Bible. He didn't even have one. He never told us kids about God. God was not a part of his life. And now I look at my mother's living will and I wonder: where will she go? I know that right now she would not go to Heaven, but is there still a chance for someone who has been so stubborn in her argument against God? Only God knows. Only He knows why she is still alive.
What I do know is that she had never heard the true Gospel until just a couple of years ago. All of her life, all she has ever known is what her father told her. She has willfully closed her ears to the true word of God. Now that she has children who know God, perhaps things will change. We can only hope.