By Norris Burkes May 02, 2021 (Revised after publication.)

The most important piece of equipment, in my opinion, is something issued to me during my military career. Soldiers called it the BS detector.

Yes, I said it. But for the purposes of this spiritual column – and for my mom – let’s call it my “bull poo” meter. 

While my hospice-chaplain job most often requires quiet and reflective listening, it sometimes requires a good BS gage.

Fortunately, the meter was working well last week as I stood in the driveway of a healthcare facility. That’s where I heard the facility chaplain loudly declare to me that he is a wonderful manager. 

“I’m the easiest person in the world to work for. I’m not a bull-sh**er” he loudly repeated.   Sorry mom. He really said the words.

When someone spends 15 minutes firmly declaring that he doesn’t BS people – believe me, he does. My detector overheated and may have to go into the shop. BUT I don’t have a detector big enough to measure the BS coming from Christians who are refusing to get the COVID Vaccine.

For instance, I often hear them say. “My body is a temple,” hinting at 1 Cor. 6:19-20. “I don’t put junk in my body.” 

Their ever-expanding sweatpants scream a different story.

But the worst BS I hear — “We’re Christians. We don’t fear death, right?” 

Wait. Are they telling me that they are not afraid of dying from COVID, but the vaccine scares them?  

I mean, if you’re going to heaven, what difference does it make what gets you there?  The exchange sent my poo meter pegging into the red. That response nearly overheats and may send it into the shop.

I want to yell, “B.S. Of course you’re afraid of dying! Everyone is.”

The truth is that the fear of death can be a gift in at least three ways. 

  1. 1. It gives us an awareness of our fragility and keeps us safe within life’s speed limits.
  1. 2. When we acknowledge that life has a deadline, pun intended, we increase our intentionality toward finishing our life’s goals.
  1. 3. Finally, it has been said that man is the only creature who is able to anticipate his own death. If that’s true, we should be inspired to seek a passion for living beyond the mundane. 

There was no question that everyone fears death. But instead of admitting it, Christians will often turn on their religious bravado to deny a common fear. And that just doesn’t pass the sniff test.  

If you aren’t afraid of dying, you’re resisting your humanity. I’ve been at the bedside of many individuals facing death, and few have ever said they were glad they were dying.

Most of them expect a physical and spiritual pain to accompany dying. They are afraid and will tell you they don’t want to hurt. They don’t want to feel alone. They don’t want to feel their legacy will be forgotten. 

So rather than to deny their fear, the spiritually healthy will affirm their faith and confidence in what happens after this life. They know how to release the fear as they reach for heaven.

For those practicing the Christian faith, I remind them that even Jesus feared death. He begged his heavenly father to “let this cup pass from me.” 

Jesus wasn’t being a coward or unfaithful. He was being a real human. He was admitting that crucifixion scared him. So, he asked God, “Isn’t there another way?”

Jesus had a healthy fear of death in that he knew death wasn’t the problem. The challenging part is how we choose to push past our fear of death toward the things God has for us to do in this life. In fact, most often we refuse to even think of death in order to not think, experience or acknowledge the fear

Unfortunately, we often walk away from this bravado too afraid to say any of this. 

I guess fear is a common theme that runs through all aspects of life.


Chaplain Norris’ books are available at Contact him at or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.