Nothing, and I mean nothing, will focus your mind and heart on the life to come quite like sitting for hours with your loved one as they are slowly departing this life and entering the next. This is where I’ve been the past two days as you know. I have formed several thoughts this evening that might serve as encouragement to readers. These are simple reflections on my last two days.
1. "People are destined to die once and after that to face the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). There are no exceptions, period. Because of sin we all die. We all seem so unwilling to face this one settled reality until we are forced to deal with it. I do not think we should live humorless, morbid lives, but rather lives of joy and appreciation of the creation. But we should always live in the face of death, a truly healthy way to live to the fullest. Indeed it is the only truly honest and human way to live.
2. Losing a loved one who knows Christ is difficult for sure but when our hope is rooted in the promises of God and the long life of a person who lived for the glory of God the substantial hope of the true Christian is firm. Death is never easy, never. But watching a loved one leave earth is truly softened by the reality of this fact: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
3. Families tend to draw closer to one another at such times, or they are stressed in ways that break them apart. In my case these days are drawing us closer to God and to one another.
4. Reading Scripture, singing hymns of faith, and touching and signing my mother with the mark of the cross have all been a rich blessing. How do people sit for hours with no hope and no cross and watch someone die whom they love so deeply?
5. Prayer and the love of fellow believers is also a rich blessing at such times. Thanks to hundreds of you who are praying and thanks for some very close friends who have called me on my cell phone to see how I am doing. No one has stepped over the line in the least in showing compassion and respect and all who have communicated their love have encouraged me.
6. Having this time to think and talk allows us to plan for a funeral with much care. Pray for our family as we want this to be a time of grief mixed with incredible hope and joy. I will preach the gospel, that much I know. Plans have been made with the understanding that "a person plans his way but the Lord directs their steps."
7. Dying with dignity is more than a slogan for me. We are not rushing mom to the hospital to insert tubes to feed her. We have chosen to allow her to receive comfort and care without extreme life-saving measues.
8. Hospice care workers are a God-send. Use them when the time comes and allow them to help you when you need them most. Most states even provide for this service if you ask for it.
9. I sense that I am extremely near God, and the angels, when I am in my mom’s room. Hebrews says that angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation" (1:14). The only way I can leave mom’s room and come back to rest tonight is that I leave her with prayer, the Scriptures, the mark of the cross and the confidence that she really is NOT alone.
10. As I look at my mom, who is unable to talk but who seems to hear me, I am telling her of all the things I remember about her life that cause me to give thanks. What a powerful thing this is. I do not know how much she hears or understands, and frankly no one does for sure, but I know I am telling her truths that bless her and help me. I have also told her tonight that it is OK for her to go when the Lord comes for her because we are pleased to release her from us knowing that someday we shall join her in the life to come.
Again, thanks for your prayers, whether you know me personally or not. Your intercession is a means of grace and God uses it. How he does I do not understand but that he does I am quite certain of.