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 (John 14:2,3).
“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. The old rule 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 paratrooper’s 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. “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 Solider 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 we need not fear death.
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,” he announced before he left this earth. Who better to prepare an LZ (loading zone)? 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 to glory!
Yet, the thought of that jump may still frighten. Much is 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.
We pray, 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 become familiar with. Keep reminding us that heaven is our home. Keep inviting us to follow you. Keep assuring us that you will always be with us—especially at the door of death. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military