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Once a tiny bird flew straight at our window and it hit the glass with a thud. It fell to the ground, fluttered, then lay still. I started to cry. I ran outside and picked it up. I wanted to help it fly again. But the bird lay still in my hand. I yelled for Mom.
Mom looked sad too. "The bird is dead," she said. "We have to bury it in the ground." "No! No!" I yelled. "I want to keep it in my room. Maybe it will live again." "That won't happen," Mom said quietly. Mom and I buried the bird in our garden. A small feather clung to my finger. I put in my pocket.
Later, I sat holding the feather and thought long, scary questions about death.
How long does being dead last?
Does God want people to die?
Will my mom still be my mom in heaven?
Will I die some day?
Will I see the bird in heaven?
Why did I have to put the bird in the ground?
What will happen to it?
Will I die someday?
Will I see the bird in heaven?
Why do birds and animals and people die?
How could I go to heaven if my body is in the ground?
Does it hurt to die?
My mom came and sat beside me. "It's all right to cry," she said. Then we talked about my questions. Mom began by telling me the story of God making the world.
The world was beautiful then -perfect-with trees, flowers, even little birds. God made a man and a woman and He let them live in that beautiful place.
"You may have everything here except one tree," God said. "If you eat fruit from that tree you will die." At first the man and woman obeyed God, but they became more and more curious. Maybe God did not really mean what He said, they thought. So one day they ate fruit from the three. -Genesis 1-3
Ever since that time, every man, woman, plant, or animal that lives eventually dies. But God does not want His people to be dead forever.
So Jesus came to make up for the wrong the first man and woman had done. Jesus lived. But He was different from any other man who lived. Jesus never disobeyed God. Then Jesus died. But His death was different too. JESUS CAME BACK TO LIFE! -Acts 2:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:21
When an animal dies, its body stops moving. It can't see or hear or feel anything anymore. It can't breathe. Its heart doesn't beat. In a few days it will begin to soften and smell bad. The body slowly turns back into soil. When a person dies, the same thing happens to his or her body. That's why we bury it in a cemetery.
We feel sad and sometimes we cry because we feel lonely without that person who died.
But a person is more than a body. Inside is the "really me," the part that thinks and feels and loves and makes me different from any other person in the world. It is called the soul. As soon as one of God's people dies, the soul goes to heaven to be with Jesus. And Jesus has made his or her place in heaven exactly what that person likes best. -Luke 16:19-31; Philippians 1:21-23
Excerpted from What Happens When We Die? by Carolyn Nystrom Copyright ©2001 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
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