Where Does Our Soul Go When We Die? Will we go to heaven?
Here is a great article from Michael A. Milton, PhD (University of Wales; MPA, UNC Chapel Hill; MDiv, Knox Seminary), Dr. Milton is a retired seminary chancellor and currently serves as the James Ragsdale Chair of Missions at Erskine Theological Seminary. He is the President of Faith for Living and the D. James Kennedy Institute a long-time Presbyterian minister, and Chaplain (Colonel) USA-R. Dr. Milton is the author of more than thirty books and a musician with five albums released. Mike and his wife, Mae, reside in North Carolina.
I was a young pastor. I was on assignment as a pastoral care intern for a congregation not my own. I was a pastor “on loan,” one might say. My mission? I was dispatched by the church leadership to provide pastoral ministry to a family I didn’t know. I was told that the Henley family was gathered at a nearby nursing home and that they had requested a pastoral presence. The elder who telephoned me gave instructions that I would find Mr. Henley, a long-time member, in room 201. Mrs. Gladys Henley, his wife of sixty-some-odd years would be there to greet me. Mr. Henley’s forty-something-year-old son and his wife would also be there. They had flown in from the West Coast to be with the matriarch and patriarch in this difficult time.
I rehearsed the coming pastoral visit in my mind as I pulled into the covered parking garage. I guided my trusty old Buick sedan into that most appreciated of privileges — clergy parking. I put her in park. I killed the engine. I drew in a breath of hope as I exhaled a prayer for help: “Lord, guide me.”
Before departing for the brief stroll to the nursing home, I opened my Bible. I needed a passage that would serve as my “pastoral prescription” for the spiritual cure to the anticipated spiritual condition of this family. I keep a list of familiar Bible chapters and verses for hospital visits. The passages are arranged, in smeared fountain ink from my own hand, according to spiritual cure of common conditions — aging, bereavement, conflict, and so forth. I came to “vigil.” The family vigil is the gathering of family members (and close friends) in anticipation of a loved one’s passing. My eyes found the words of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles and Saint Peter’s quotation of Psalm 16:10:
“For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2:27, 28 ESV).
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