For the next few months, we'll be delving into the concept of all our life's journey being sacred. This past Sunday we continued our year-long exploration into relationships as Sean taught on about being the beloved of God. I, unfortunately (or fortunately), was unable to attend service as I went with Lydia to the Kaiser Emergency Room. Lydia, an 87-year-old widow, who faithfully comes to Journey every Sunday, had an episode. After walking into church on Sunday, she became very short of breath and unresponsive. Lydia has congestive heart failure, which over the past years has been getting worse. Her biological family, for a variety of reasons, isn't able to be here often, so we at Journey have become her adopted family and caregivers.
As I sat with Lydia in the sanctuary before the paramedics arrived, not knowing whether she would live or die, there was a certain peace in the moment. She was ready to go and be with God. She had no fear of dying, no fear of what lay beyond. This past Sunday wasn't that day for her. At different times throughout the day breathing became very difficult for her. Her heart that has served her these 87 years just wasn't pumping enough for her to catch her breath. During those moments you could hear her whispering, "loving, loving, loving, loving.....Father." In moments when she was unsure her life would continue, her thoughts and heart were wrapped up in her one true love. In no uncertain terms, she knew that she would be with her beloved Jesus when she takes her last breath in this realm.
Lydia has not had an easy life. From her survival through WW2 to being widowed for many decades, and dealing with ongoing health issues and recently losing one of her sons, her life has had its share of difficulties. She also would be the first to admit that through it all she hasn't always been "perfectly behaved." However, regardless of the problems she has faced internally or externally, the one thing she has held onto is the loving presence of her God. Her belief in Him is unshakeable and she has grown to know that regardless of the circumstances, His love is steadfast- steadfast enough to hold her even if she is unable to breathe.
My wish for myself and for Journey is that we have the same deep knowledge of God's love for us. I wish for us to be people who can face death squarely knowing that we are held and we are loved by God. That courage comes from a lifetime of small (and large) choices to trust God's love regardless of the circumstances faced. Romans 8:28 can help us trust, despite what we face in life, as it reminds us that God works all things for our good. It doesn't say all things are good, but that God can and wants to bring good out of our pain and difficulties if we allow Him.
Lydia has made a lifetime habit of trusting. Despite the painshe has felt and still experiences, her inclination is to trust God's love. I can hear her saying along with Paul, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)
Reflect this week:
Have I lived such that I can die well?
By Babs May-Clark