In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
“The Lord willing and Jesus tarries, I hope to see you all at the next reunion. If not, I’ll see you at the last jump. I know you will not freeze at the door.”
These are the words of Sgt. Skinny Sisk, a veteran of Easy Company, to his Band of Brothers. Years after WWII, the thoughts of these warriors sometimes went back to parachuting into danger. But as their numbers decreased, they thought more about what they called, the last jump.
We understand why they would use that phrase to describe dying. Like jumping out of an airplane into the dark night, those at the door of death cannot see what is out there. The leap from earthly life can be frightening. If it were an option, many would refuse.
It isn’t an option—unless Jesus returns with saints and angels before then. That’s what the sergeant was referring to with the words, “The Lord willing and Jesus tarries.” To tarry is to wait a while longer.
All of us have to expect that the end of the world will not take place before it is our time to leave this world.
The old rule of the paratroopers was, “Put your hands outside the doorframe before you jump!” A frightened soldier bracing himself against the inside of the doorframe was not easily removed. With hands outside, only a nudge would send him on his way.
A refusal to jump brought shame and often dismissal. The Band of Brothers shouted encouragement to one another before each jump. Sgt. Sisk was now doing it before their “last jump.”
We understand why. After the war, he went through a hard transition to civilian life. He told his former commanding officer that his new career became an attempt to drink away the truckload of the enemy that he killed in Holland.
The drinking did not succeed. But his little niece did. He said, “She told me Jesus loved me and she loved me. God would forgive me for all the men I kept trying to kill all over again.”
Four years after the war, the soldier became an ordained minister. His new career was to offer to others the forgiveness that Jesus paid for; and to remove the fear of that last jump.
By faith in Jesus as his Savior, this member of the Band of Brothers became our brother. His words—“I’ll see you at the last jump. I know you will not freeze at the door.”—mean something to us.
We expect to see him in heaven. We know, like him, we need not fear death.
There is a difference between leaving an aircraft and leaving the world we have been living in. Our departure from this life is not a jump into the dark unknown. Jesus has already described the landing zone. Peace, safety, and joy—all that is waiting for us.
Sorrow, pain, and fear—none of that will be there.
“I am going there to prepare a place for you,” Jesus announced before he left for heaven.
Who better to prepare an LZ?
We note that when Jesus left this earth he did not jump down and out but was lifted up and away. So will we. From earth, up to glory!
Yet, the thought of that jump may still frighten us at times. Much remains unknown. We might wonder how we will react.
Let the fear be gone! Jesus is not just going to command us to jump. He is not telling us, “I’ll see you on the other side.” He says, “I will come back to take you with me.”
When the door opens for us to leave this life, we will see the smiling face of Jesus—our brother.
And we will smile.
“I know that you will not freeze at the door.”
Thanks for your encouragement, Sgt. Sisk!
Jesus, the idea of dying tends to frighten us. We have been trained in your Word and disciplined in life. But we must admit that at times we wish we did not need to leave the universe we have always lived in. We know it is not perfect here, but it is familiar. Keep reminding us that heaven is our true home. Assure us again that there we will find peace and joy beyond our imagination. Keep inviting us to follow you. Keep assuring us that you will always be with us—especially when we stand at the door stepping into life eternal. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- When we travel to new places now, we might call the trips “adventures.” Is the trip to heaven not an adventure?
- Like jumping out of an airplane, is the thought of death scary at times because we are not sure we will land safely?
- Aren’t the arms of Jesus better than any parachute?
Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.