The first time I saw a dead man was in combat. Oh, I’ve seen the dead bodies that were dressed and made up to look beautiful in a casket before my first combat experience. I’m referring to the first time I ever saw a man right after he died.
I was 20 years old, and involved in the invasion of Panama- called Operation Just Cause. Not long after the opening hours of the invasion, I was sent out to one of the airfields that Rangers seized to start the operation. I flew out there with a handful of my friends to pick up the dead and wounded.
I remember picking up body bags and dragging them onto the helicopter to send these brave warrior’s bodies home to their families. I remember the helicopter being so full that we had to stack the body bags on top of each other. There was very little room for the seriously wounded onboard this MH-53 helicopter.
One of the most seriously wounded soldiers was Staff Sergeant Larry Barnard. He was still clinging to life when I first saw him. In fact, when they loaded Larry’s body onto the side of this helicopter the 1St Ranger Battalion Physician Assistant, Chief Warrant Office William “Doc” Donovan had his hands inside Larry’s chest manually causing his heart to beat in order to keep him alive. Those hours of medical care were some of the greatest concern for human life that I have ever witnessed. Larry died moments after our helicopter arrived at Howard Air Force Base in Panama City, Panama.
The Suit for the Soul
It wasn’t particularly traumatic for me to see a dead man for the first time. The reason it wasn’t hard for me to see my first dead man was because I viewed the human body as a suit for the soul. Some suits last longer than others, some suits look better than others, but everyone’s suit wears out at some point. The body wears down and we all go to the grave.
Because of my belief in Jesus as my Savior, I also viewed death as a doorway that all men and women must walk through. This is part of the human condition that we inherited from our first parents Adam and Eve.
Are you ready to walk through that door?
So I wonder… Are you ready to walk through that door? Are you ready to face death? Are you certain what your eternity looks like? Are you sure you will be in Heaven one day?
The Bible gives certainty of salvation. It gives the promise of Heaven. That promise is backed by God, which means it cannot be broken. This promise is found in 1 John 2:25. There is a promise of Heaven waiting for all who love Jesus and long for his coming. Therefore, death is not the end; it is just the door that we walk through. It is the beginning: the beginning of real life, the beginning of eternal life, and the beginning of perfect life. Although I didn’t know him personally, I’m hoping to spend eternity with Larry Barnard and many like him.