In the summer of 2009, Richard and Moira planned a "stay-cation" with lots of projects to do at home. They were grateful to be able to make almost daily visits to the bedside of Richard's mother, Ruth Brown, who at 86 was heading for her eternal home.
A widow for 11 years, this mother of seven had 25 grandchildren who called her "Nonnie," and a growing number of great-grandchildren. Each day, they thought, might be her last. It seemed she had already tasted Heaven, with talk of "feasting," "lots of people" and "no pain." Her persistent plea was, "Lift me up; I want to go to Heaven… closer to Heaven."
Richard asked, "Can I give you a drink first, Mom?"
"No, Heaven first!" she insisted.
No oxygen was registering in her blood, but she had glorious passion in her soul to go to Jesus.
Paul, the apostle, groaned for Heaven because his deepest desire was to be fully present with the Lord, but he was a man on a mission. Mom was full of earthly resolve too. Her impassioned charge for her children was, "Tell the world Jesus lives."
Faint, short phrases in the first week were replaced by long, lovely trips down memory lane throughout the second - as much a delight to Mom as it was to Richard and Moira. Even when her words were limited, she displayed an uncharacteristic boldness if a nurse came into her room to ask, "Do you love Jesus?"
King David said, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15 KJV). Moira have filled pages with the words and wonders Mom shared during the last days of the life she lived for her family and our Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed that we all would one day be with Him. But more than our being "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8), the preciousness of the transition is often revealed during heavenly moments in "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4) on the journey to our true home.
Two years earlier, on May 21, 2007, when Mom was still adjusting to the limitations of failing health and life in a nursing home, she made a statement that reflected her outlook: "Every day, I can't seem to get myself into a state of feeling sorry for myself. I have so much to be thankful for."
Mom's hope was in the Lord, and it was wonderful to witness her strength of spirit and God-confidence in the midst of physical pain. The journey to "fullness of joy"in His presence and "pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11) was much longer than any of us anticipated and heart-rending for those who kept constant vigil.
You may be dealing with a terminal illness, or facing the loss of someone you love. Expect the Lord to make His presence known. He has promised not only sufficient grace, but the "treasures of darkness" (Isaiah 45:3) in the "Waiting Room." Paul declares the reality of the moment many believers needlessly fear: Death has been "swallowed up by life" (2 Corinthians 5:4). He knew from personal experience that
"…neither death nor life…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Words failed the apostle who three times was left for dead, in describing his glimpse of Heaven:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV).
Truly, the best is yet to come!