A West Virginia woman faked her death to avoid a potential 10-year prison term — but was found hiding in a closet at home after a massive three-day search.
The woman was reported missing Sunday by her husband and teenage son, who said she fell over the main overlook at the New River Gorge National River.
It led to a huge, multi-agency search-and-rescue mission, with helicopters, sniffer dogs, rappellers, and a diving crew searching a nearby gorge.
As part of the search, investigators got a search warrant to get her phones and computers — and found her alive, hiding in a closet in her home.
The woman and her husband were arrested on multiple charges including conspiracy and giving false information to West Virginia State Police.
In February 2020 the woman pleaded guilty to federal healthcare fraud after stealing $300,000 from the Veteran’s Administration.[i]
You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide…
It’s incredible to think that this family spent time thinking up this elaborate plan in order to try to hide from her punishment, but each and every one of us will face a judgment—much worse than 10 years in prison.
A guy named Solomon, who, the Bible says was the wisest person ever…wisely wrote:
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad”(Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, NLT).
The bottom line is that each of us will face a judgment for breaking God’s perfect law of righteousness and perfection, and the punishment will be eternal death and separation from God:
“All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. ‘But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’ ” (Revelation 21:7, 8, NLT).
So the question is how do we find ourselves “victorious” in order to inherit God’s eternal life?
First, the Bad News!
I was nineteen years old and was heavily involved in sports and apparently, one day I overdid and ended up with severe chest pain—sending me to the local emergency room. After only several minutes of waiting (apparently chest pain will get you seen very quickly), the doctor told me the bad news: I had pulled a chest and rib muscle and had to lay off the exercise and sports for several days. He then told me the good news: that I would make a full recovery, gave me two prescriptions, and sent me on my way. It wasn’t until I understood the full extent of the bad news (the diagnosis), could I appreciate the good news (the treatment).
The same thing applies to us as well. For us to truly appreciate the significance of the good news, we also must first comprehend the depth of the bad news…and here it is: we’re all sinners! We’ve all missed God’s standard of perfection and, by ourselves, can never meet it. No matter what we do, we can’t be good enough, because, thanks to the first human being, Adam, we’ve all been born into sin (Psalm 51:5 & Romans 5:14). That means that we’re all headed for a serious punishment—eternal death!
The Apostle Paul put it bluntly when he wrote:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Romans 3:23-25, NLT).
Then again, he clarifies what the payment for all our sin is:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NLT).
But…there’s good news
Jesus “ . . . came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NLT).
You see, God didn’t just arbitrarily remove our sin punishment of death—He couldn’t do that. A penalty needed to be paid for our sinful rebellion, so God Himself, in the form of Jesus, died in our place, in order to give us His perfection and eternal life! This is how Jesus explained it Himself:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed” (John 3:16-20, NLT).
Jesus is So…Judgmental?!
Judgment is not a dirty word! In fact, our ultimate assurance of salvation cannot happen without it. That “J” word lets us know that no matter what happens in our lives, we will ultimately receive a true and fair decision. The Bible tells us that the purpose of this judgment is to reveal God’s true character to the Universe the reason for His initial decision to allow sin, death, and evil to exist. In fact, you may find this difficult to believe, but the Bible tells us that God will ultimately allow other (human beings—He has created) to, in essence, question and scrutinize all the evidence for God’s eternal judgment decisions–to see the evidence for His decisions He’s made for each person who has ever lived.
For this reason, this doctrine is called the “investigative judgment”. The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official belief about the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment is:
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and, began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.[ii]
So What Will it Be?
So, now that you’ve learned the extent of the bad news of your depravity and sin and the incredible good news of God’s goodness and the salvation He freely offers, through the death of His Son, Jesus, which will you pick? It really is all up to you. I promise you that faking your death and hiding in a closet won’t cut it with God.
You can do it today—right now, in fact! Accept God’s free gift of salvation that He’s given His precious life to give you. It will be the best and most important decision you’ll ever make.
[i] Downloaded on June 7, 2020, from https://nypost.com/2020/06/04/woman-who-faked-death-to-avoid-prison-found-hiding-in-a-closet/
[ii] Downloaded on July 8, 2020, from https://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental-beliefs/restoration/christs-ministry-in-the-heavenly-sanctuary/
[iii] If you want to learn more about what the Bible says about God’s judgment; how it’s going on right now, and how it applies to you and your life, check out these two resources: (1) Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, and (2) Pending: Your Case in Court.