Many Passing Away From This Earth
December 11, 2014
It’s been a busy few weeks for me. A lot of it has been visiting those who are sick. Yesterday my mom and I visited a 91 year old missionary at the mission’s apartment building where she (“Aunt” Vivian) has been living, and actually thriving. With joy she cared for her ailing husband there until he died while she also has continued to nurture all the beautiful plants in and around the building. “And to think everything is running just fine without me!” she said, laughing. “Yes, isn’t that how it is?!” I responded. “We’re reminded we’re not the savior of anything.”
It’s true. We often envision ourselves as so necessary. But God has other willing servants besides us and He brings them forward at that time when He chooses to put us on the sidelines or to take us Home.
Still, we’re going to miss my “Aunt” Vivian, for she found out last week that she has two fast-growing tumors in her stomach that can’t be operated on. “Well,” Aunt Vivian said happily yesterday during our visit with her, “The Lord has to take us somehow.” I was sitting next to her, patting her as she lay on her couch, and my mom and I both exclaimed about how wonderful it is to see her still exhibiting her usual cheerful attitude. Aunt Vivian went on to tell us how kind and attentive the other missionary residents have been to her –some bringing meals, others checking on her even in the middle of the night, and some offering to sleep on the floor beside her some nights. “It is truly beautiful,” she said several times.
After leaving her room, we saw another friend in the hall –Mr. D.B. I was so sad to see him still very hunched over, a condition he’s had for years. We asked about his wife who also has been bad off for about a year, and being that he said she was up, he welcomed our request to visit her. So we did. There too we had a nice visit as we sipped the cranberry juice Mr. D.B. gave us, and, as we had with Aunt Vivian, we had a time of prayer with them. Later, after leaving, I told my mom how heart-breaking it is to see that Mr. D.B., even in his condition, is obviously doing most, if not all, of the care-taking for Mrs. D.B. In fact, I’ve seen him at the grocery store –reaching for groceries, all bent over… Oh, that we had more time in the day to help all the hurting people!!!
Then there is my “Aunt” Jean –the 81 year old who I wrote about on Nov. 17. Well, she passed away this morning at about 4:30. I’m glad that I, my husband, and my parents took time to visit her last month in the hospital. May the Lord comfort her family.
Then there’s my “Aunt” C. She had a massive stroke a few days before Thanksgiving and is not doing well. My brother gave some money for the youngest daughter to drive the five hours here, which she did and was able to stay a few days. Aunt C’s other children live nearby, thankfully, but it is still very hard to see our friends going through such suffering.
One of our missionary friends who was 94 asked me a while back when we visited her at her Assisted Living Home to be praying that she would go to be with Jesus. I did pray it and when she told my dad on one of his last visits to see her, “Please ask Rachel to pray that I die,” I prayed it even more –that the Lord would relieve her soon of her suffering. A few weeks later He did –on Oct. 29th of this year. She had been a missionary in Peru with her late husband, leaving behind a beautiful legacy, including that of influencing one of their sons who chose to carry on the Gospel work there.
Last Friday I drove back out to the country to attend a funeral (which is now appropriately called, for those who followed Christ, “A Celebration of Life”). My friend, Darlene, from the Sabbath church I sometimes went to, and who was only 68 years old, passed away, due to cancer, the Monday before. The Celebration of her life was so nice, and we were all comforted in knowing that she had stated that she was completely at peace about dying. Apparently she was even more wonderful than I thought –never to hold a grudge, always forgiving, so full of joy and fun, and also wise and responsible with home and church affairs, as well as her managerial job at the local newspaper. I found out that she had been the one who boarded the Sunday School bus as a child and led the way for her siblings to also seek God’s Truth.
Darlene left behind her preacher husband, who seemed to be doing well, four kids and their spouses, and several grand-children. Though it was a happy time in seeing so many of my friends again, I did shed tears during some extra touching parts of the very lovely service. I kept thinking of Darlene’s sweetness, her consistent kindness to me (even though I had often expressed to them my disagreement in some of their beliefs), and how everyone recognized that her outward elegance and beauty came from her inward holiness. It made me wish I had known her even better. It made me think again about what people will say about me when I die. It made me more determined to be a sweeter, better person…
Maybe we all should think about it: When we die, will people attend a funeral, or will they be attending, truly, “A Celebration of My Life”? In other words, who of us are living lives that others can celebrate, that others consider to be a life well spent, that others receive warm and joyful feelings as they think about us..? Or, do they have sad thoughts as they think on us? Sad because there was a lot of strife, cruelty, inconsideration, rudeness, unfairness, dishonesty…? Did our life cause others remorse? Did our life point others to Jesus and His ways, or did our life point others away from Jesus and His ways?
Hopefully, no matter where we are at in the level of goodness, sweetness, holiness, and overall Christ-likeness, may we, right now in the present, “be living wisely and making the most of every opportunity as we are careful to walk in God’s will.” (See Eph. 5:15-17) May we be allowing all suffering, sickness, hospital visits, and death to remind us to make every day count. –To make it count for what is right, and good, and holy. To make it count for salvation –others’ and our own.