It’s Monday afternoon, a beautiful kind of January day! The sun is brightly shining, sparkling as it radiates, penetrating the glassy front window in reminders – screaming glimmers of hope – whispering beauty and feelings of warmth – engulfing as the Spirit pours a peaceful wind into the portal of my friend – her needy soul.
In contrast, I just happen to be sitting with this dear friend as she lies in a hospital bed in her living room tending to the needs as she lay suffering, weak, vomiting, reeling in pain in what appears to be the final weeks or possibly days of life as she knows it. My friend has cancer! Diagnosed approximately a year and a half ago. Thankful she knows Jesus!
Though she loves Jesus …
It’s still hard!
So very hard!
Painfully disturbing …
Physically ravaging …
Emotionally draining …
Pain – we all know what it tastes like. Whether the source is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, its interruption in our lives disrupts and reshapes, intercepts and complicates our hopes and plans; it rearranges our dreams. It always leaves a mark.
It makes me angry! Angry, that this is not what God intended! Angry, that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy! Yet, rejoicing that her story doesn’t end here, that God is and will be glorified!
You see, Nancy loves Jesus and Jesus loves her! Though her time is ending on earth, time does not end in Heaven, her real home! It won’t be long and she will be basking perfectly in the Presence of God, fully and completely whole – healed of this horrific disease!
As I’ve watched the cancer slowly impede and ravage her beautiful body this past year, I’ve also watched her spirit soar into a deeper relationship with a very personal God – a faith strengthened in a loving, the all-consuming Almighty ONE that has been her peace that passes all understanding!
I’m humbled by her courage in the face of adversity and very thankful for the opportunity – privileged to be her friend – to be the hands and feet of Jesus for such a time as this!
While death’s door is opening, a physical death approaching; it does not mean its over – it profoundly means that Glory awaits Nancy on the other side of eternity!
While death is a daunting reality – the consequence of a choice made in the Garden of Eden – the door we all must pass through – it just doesn’t end here! God’s comfort comes, immediately restores in the glorious next step for those who have embraced Jesus as their Savior and LORD! It is the passage, a transitional step into God’s GLORY!
Thankful that one day I will see her again, experience that one last STEP of faith!
Thankful that it is finished, that what the enemy meant for evil God always uses for good!
You see, Nancy has been a blessing to her family! A genuine example, an authentic testimony and will leave behind a legacy of faith, love and grace to them and everyone who has encountered this special woman of God. She’s been a sweet peach, a kiss sent from heaven! We who have known her have been honored with her presence in our lives!
Nancy has made us laugh – I love her sense of humor and childlike playfulness!
Because Nancy grew up in Birmingham she didn’t have a lot of opportunities to play in the snow or go sledding. So, its snowy outside and she asks for snow! What do we do, we bring a big bowl of snow inside! Like a child, Nancy places both hands inside the bowl and begins meshing the bundle of snowflakes in-between her fingers. Fully feeling and embracing relief, she takes great pleasure in the taste of it – the coldness of it cooling her feverish body. Then, and all of a sudden, the whirlwind begins and small snowballs are being blown! Yes, I said BLOWN! Oh, the delight, it quickly progressed to larger snowballs being thrown back and forth! Yes, we laughed, and she laughed, all the while her hubby lovingly comments … “Honey, you can still make me laugh!” A joyful moment!
She also stood firm in faith believing God for a miracle since first hearing the “C” word. Not wavering, but instead enabling her to surrender to His perfect will – embracing without a shadow of doubt that if He choose continuance of life on earth or take her to heaven, either way she knew she would be healed!
As I’m writing, my friend begins to sing Selah’s song…
“When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless life beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk of stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
YOU raise me up to more that I can be!”
On a mission, Nancy suddenly pushes herself up, scoots to the side of the bed, stands up and standing face to face she looks me in the eye and says, “I need to go where they are singing.”
Wow! The song is prophetic, “But when you come and I am filled with wonder, Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.”
At that moment, God is giving a gift. Nancy is filled with wonder, having a glimpse into eternity!
God’s presence continues to fill the room with evidence that Jesus and his choir of angels are wooing! Though Nancy is unable to walk outside, she lays back down and begins listening again to Selah’s song: meditating, embracing, speaking the words she is able to see on her iPad. I’m watching her – pondering, thankful, praising God for answered prayer! In awe, she’s feeling His presence – a peace given as she embraces God’s truth! I’m standing (sitting) on holy, sacred ground! This is true worship.
Reflecting back, I’m profoundly more aware that this glimpse beyond the veil is a parting from the sea of pain, an intersection with God’s mercy and love reaching toward her and Nancy responding! What a majestic display of grace.
The snow is now falling, It’s beautiful! I’m reminded again of God’s redeeming blanket of love, its covering, Jesus’ healing hyssop and Nancy. Though her body is broken – I know its only for a short while – her bones will soon rejoice with joy and gladness – sweetness in the JOY of her SALVATION seen!
The invitation again woos when Nancy speaks of the ‘waiting room’ and knows she is there, lingering, stating she is ready to go home – to be with Jesus! She pauses and asks a question, “Am I waiting on YOU (God) or YOU (God) waiting on me.”
For now, the earth-bound journey continues, good-byes are heart-wrenching, yet, in the midst God’s voice is speaking, the choir of angels are singing, an invitation is wooing!
Hebrews 12:23 mentions “the spirits of righteous men made perfect.”
What comfort it is that upon Nancy’s physical death her soul separates from her body and enters immediately into the presence of the Lord. What a joy it is knowing her soul in heaven is made perfect in holiness and her sin nature is eradicated! The struggle, the fight with sin has come to an end forever when after death Nancy enters her glorified state. Christ in her, the hope fulfilled!
2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
One thing is clear, Nancy is a child of God looking forward to seeing, being embraced by her KING!
That Final Faith Step …
* In the early morning hours on Friday, January 31st my friend took that final faith step and crossed over into glory! We grieve yet rejoice!
* Nancy’s Celebration of Life Service will be held at Grace Evangelical Church, Fayetteville, GA on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 4PM.
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23: 3-4 (Bible: English Standard Version)
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” – Psalm 91:10 (Bible: The Message)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.– Romans 8:38-39 (Bible:English Standard Version)
“You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.” – Romans 5: 12-21 (Bible: The Message)
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-56 (Bible: English Standard Version)
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51;7-12 (Bible: English Standard Version)
Nancy Russell and Marsha King
You Raise Me Up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi4mt40FEkU