The mom at our school that I had written about in a couple of my earlier posts went home to be with the Lord yesterday. What a joyous, yet sad, day. There is such a dichotomy at work in death, it’s hard to comprehend. The certain hope of heaven for those who believe in Jesus and the joy of seeing Him face to face, yet the grief in the here and now for those left behind, especially young children. We weren’t meant to die. And for those in Christ, we never will. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. We will see her again. But the pain in the here and now for those who remain is harsh.
I was thinking about the lessons I’ve learned from watching this woman of God for the last year. I met her exactly one year ago today, April 24, when she came to look at the school. I didn’t know that one year later, I’d be watching her children playing at a park after school, experiencing their first day without their mother. My heart breaks.
The first lesson I learned is to treasure the time with my family and invest in my children. From the day her children were born, she read to them from the Bible. That was convicting to me when I learned that. I haven’t done that. She had likely read 4000 hours from the Bible to her oldest child! Amazing! That will not return void!
She was a woman who feared the Lord, and His promises are mercy to her children’s children. I love it that we can watch with expectation to see what God has for these precious children, even with her cruel absence in their lives. I trust we will see them like a tree, firmly planted, yielding fruit in season, with roots going down deep, becoming oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. He can bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
When I find myself distracted with my work, thinking of myself instead of my children during my time with them each day, I have been thinking of her and making a choice to live differently as a mom because of her.
A second lesson I saw in her was an extraordinary faith. I’ve written about that in earlier posts, but she truly was an uncommon woman of extraordinary faith, a faith her husband credits our extraordinary God with. She lived her life in light of His truth. She never complained or doubted. She believed. Like the song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” She never turned back, even when life became very difficult. She pointed people to Christ and proved His worth, that He was more than enough for her. He met her in those deepest places and she did not falter or fail in her faith. I want that kind of faith, given as a gift of His Spirit.
When I think of her, I think of Psalm 40:1-3: I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”
I believe many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord because of her example. She was glad to be wherever God wanted her to be, believing His ways and His plan to be best. That’s a third lesson I’d like to learn, to not complain, but to trust His plan. She was not offended with God and His plan, but reflected Him to a watching world.
She now sees Jesus face to face and is receiving the goal of her faith. I praise Jesus tonight for dying for our sins on the cross, so that by faith in Him, we might never die, but live.
These are the verses her family has shared and that we as a school prayed for her:
I Peter 1:3-9
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”