I thought I was too.
But when that call comes, I'm not sure if any of us are ever truly ready.
The image that stung my heart was imagining my dad walking out of her room and away from her body for the final time. That body that had given him life. That body that had nourished him with milk and kissed his bloody knees. That hand that held his as they walked to his first day of school. Those arms that brought comfort and relief to his frightened heart in the middle of the night. Those knees that knelt in countless hours of prayer for him. How do you say goodbye to that body?
Today we celebrated her life. A life well-lived. We remembered that she took homemade baked goods to all of her neighbors so that she could build relationships with them. We remembered the way she never saw an ambulance without voicing a prayer for God's mercy. We remembered how she NEVER threw away food. Ever. She would save two uneaten bites in her deep freezer fully convinced that she would take it out to eat later. (Her deep freezer is quite full of food!)
We remembered the time she saw her neighbor, who she had been trying to build a relationship with, go out in their back yard. She got so excited about the prospect of talking with them that she grabbed an empty watering can and pretended to be watering flowers just to have the chance to say hello.
She loved people. I mean, truly cared about them. About their lives and their families and their struggles. And she wanted nothing more than for them to experience the great joy and peace that was hers because of her relationship with Jesus.
As I was talking with Andy about her death, I said through teary eyes, "Who's gonna pray for us like that?" I counted on her prayers and I never doubted if they were coming. The older she got, the less she could do physically. But she never lost her ability to pray...and she did it constantly.
She also never lost the gratitude that shaped every word that came from her mouth. It was almost unreal. The kind of perspective on life that makes you wonder if it's fake. Surely she can't really receive all of life with that kind of praise, can she? Surely bitter words will slip out in the pain of her final days, when her mind isn't as sharp to filter them.
Nope. Never happened. And the only explanation I can come up with is that she really was that grateful. She wasn't just saying it or forcing herself to be positive. To the core of who she was, she received every moment as a gift.
She was not normal. In the very best way possible, she lived a quiet, humble, extraordinary life. You would be hard-pressed to find another person who is a better example of the Fruit of the Spirit. Her gentle spirit changed lives. I wish you had known her. She would have changed your life too.
A few weeks ago, my dad was visiting with her as she lay in her bed. She interrupted the conversation rather abruptly by sitting up and saying, "Steve, can you imagine what it would be like to go through this without the hope of eternity with Jesus?" Then she laid back down and quietly said, "I have no fear."
She had fought the good fight. She had finished the race. She had kept the faith.
And she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that her Jesus, the One she had adored and served and built her whole life around, was just on the other side with her crown of righteousness in hand.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15