Sunday, September 18, 2016
Death & Dying
Sometimes, life seems to be all about death and dying. Greg and I have lost many dear ones in the last few years and there are some that we wait with.
Yesterday I attended a memorial service for Pete Strohn, a long time friend, a precious man who left this earth too soon, or so it seems to me. When I left the service I checked my phone for messages. There was only one. My ninety-one-year-old mother had fallen again and had been taken to the hospital.
My heart quailed. Was this it? Would this be the end?
I hurried to the hospital. Mom was in the ER waiting for a CT scan. When she fell she'd hit her head. She seemed fine, tired but in good spirits. We'd been here in this room, together, many times before.
I took up my usual post at her bedside and prayed, watched her sleep, and when she roused we chatted. I tried not to think about all the previous ER visits, surgeries, and health scares we'd walked through in the past five years.
Mom's health has steadily declined and her dementia is getting worse. I stopped in for a visit with her a few days ago and she was confused about who I was. That was a first, but I knew it was coming.
Being at my mother's side in the last years of her life is like watching her fall of a cliff in slow motion. And I want it to stop.
Sitting beside her in that too familiar treatment room, I noticed how beautiful Mom looked while she slept - serene and lovely. She was trusting ... the doctors, me, her Lord.
Maybe it's because I'd just come from a memorial service, or maybe it's the loss of so many loved ones, or maybe it's about watching life speed by, days passing that can't be reclaimed ... I don't know for sure, but even though Mom turned out to be fine and went home to rest I continued to feel uncertain, sad, and empty. And I kept crying. I don't want to say any more good-byes. There have been too many.
In the midst of my dark reflections I heard from the Lord. "It's not about death ... it's about life," he said. Memories flooded my mind - so many beautiful days already lived. Pete's life hadn't been exceptional to those who didn't know him well, but the ones who loved him knew better and so does The Father. My mother has had an extraordinary life, full of adventure, love, and heartache, but only the ones close to her know that.
So, I am left with a question. Am I going to ponder death or life?
God knows all that has come before and all that lies ahead. Psalm 139: 13 - 16 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Life is a gift, given by God and to be lived for Him. We only get one crack at this life. So, it seems we ought to value such an extraordinary gift and make the most of it.
Jeremiah 29:11 says this, "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Verses 12 - 14 go on to say, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord."
What a beautiful promise! All we need to do is seek.
Yes, in life there is death and dying, but oh so much more. We should not languish long in dark reflections but seek the light and life that is God. When we do this we will find our way and fulfill the plans God laid out for us in the very beginning.
Stay tucked in close to The Father, seek Him and all that He is. He is in the spectacular things of this world and the "ordinary" as well. This life is not about death but about hope and a future.
We don't have to feel badly about our tears. Even Jesus wept. But I encourage you to be wise with the days given, seek knowledge from above, love one another ... and look forward to an eternal life with our Father, when one day you step from this life and into the next.
Grace and peace to you from God,