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,


Friday, September 09, 2016

Second Chances

Tonight, I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy when I was reminded of a miracle, my miracle.

On the television program two men were critically injured in an accident. The ambulance they were driving was hit by another ambulance. Throughout the episode they are stuck, their bodies impaled and trapped in the vehicle. There is no hope for them.

The drama playing out reminded me how we often leave our home in the morning with our minds set on our day, but we don't have any idea what the day truly holds for us. Something lifechanging might happen. 

I had a day like that twenty-five years ago. I set out for work with nothing but happy thoughts on my mind, but on my way up a winding country road I ended up like the men on Grey's Anatomy (well maybe not quite so dramatic). By all accounts my life should have ended that day. And for sure, everything changed ... forever.

I approached a corner and a log truck loaded with huge logs tipped over and barreled at my van. It hit the van and pushed the rig to the edge of an embankment. My daughter screamed, tires screeched, metal grated, and I knew I was living my final seconds on earth.

And then I realized I was wrong. I lived. My daughter and I lived! We made it out of our mangled vehicle and stood in the middle of the road, hugging each other and praising God for His amazing gift of life. 

We'd been given a second chance.

I saw it clearly then, but through the years I've lost sight of how spectacular and unbelievable and how blessed I am to have been part of one of God's miracles. I may be a bit mangled but I am still so blessed. 

But I am left with a question ...

Why do some die while others live? I don't have the answer. That is God's choice. But I do know that each day is a precious gift. And I need to live like it is my last day ... because maybe it is. 

Our days are numbered. Dare we waste a single one?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, September 07, 2016