Today’s post is dedicated to a loving individual, who faithfully chronicled the journey as her mother passed through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Death is the great evil inflicted on humanity because of sin, but through the cross of Jesus Christ it has become the doorway to great victory for every believer. Out of respect, I am keeping her anonymous, because this is her story to share, while I simply reflect on what her testimony has meant to me personally.
The Facebook post simply says, “Praising God,” and is accompanied by two photographs. One is a woman much younger than when I knew her, and in the other a clock stands in the foreground, flowers and a pad of paper next to it, in the background a picture of a mother and her only daughter. The numbers on the clock simply read 10:55, and I can hear the words all the way from Tennessee, as they also echoed from hills just outside the city of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, “It is finished” (John 19:30). At 10:55, death struck again. The common enemy of all humans. The tragedy of separation. And, for those not in the moment, simply another story of death, upon death, upon death. So eyes are dimmed, ears are closed, as the living continue to go about their day, all the while rushing forward through life toward that inevitable enemy death.
But this chronicle of death is not an ordinary story. Like the death of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago, it holds with it the promise of resurrection. This death is simply a doorway into a greater reality, truth made visible, the glory of the Creator revealed. Yes, there is grief. There is mourning. There is a painful, dull ache, that will refuse to go away completely. But, there is also hope, celebration, joy in the promise of what is ahead. This soul is alive! This individual is in the presence of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:21-23)! Her body will one day rise again from the grave, transformed in an instant, conquering death completely! Her voice will shout loudly, because she has trusted in her God:
““Death is swallowed up in victory.’
‘O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’”
1 Corinthians 15:54b-55, ESV
Throughout this chronicle of dying, I was privileged to witness a heart of hope amidst the grief. I was captivated, as I’m sure many were, by a daughter so willing to share the vestiges of this heart wrenching and personal experience. She has been a testimony of grace. The last surviving member of a family: father, brother, now mother, who all died much earlier than expected. Her faith stood strong as she posted the testimony of another saint who died relatively young:
“‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint.”
And as my friend shared her grief, I felt privileged to be allowed into what can only be described as sacred moments. God was present, conveying Himself even through the messy, human technology that we call social media. As fingers typed, messages passed through Facebook posts carrying with them God’s whispering voice, “I am here.” Here’s just a small glimpse, that I hope you will reverence as I have:
Vigil, night 4.
5.5 hrs sleep in 3 days.
Sleeping on floor.
Must be there.
Vigil, night 3.
Angels, where are you?
THE WAITING HOURS – As I have sat here for hours and hours next to my silent Mother, waiting for the hand of God to scoop her up, I have had much time to think. To ponder this limbo; these sacred moments between earth and Heaven. For me, the observer, it is excrutiating. The push-me-pull-you between desiring for her to come alive and be present with me again, and the longing for her to be eternally free from her disease. I am a living paradox, and neither is wrong! God said through Moses, “choose life, that you and your children might live”. Then Paul told the Philippians “to die is gain”. Aren’t they both true? If we are HERE, then LIVE here. If we die, it’s BETTER. It’s up to God, but if you ARE here . . . LIVE in these moments and feel all the pain and grief down to the bottom. Drink the whole cup.
Indeed. Drink the whole cup. Precious moments. Precious love. Precious Savior. Precious daughter. Thank you, my friend, for allowing us into this sacred space. Bless you as you continue your journey through grief, joy, hope, love. You live the moments well.