Thursday, April 17, 2014

My mother and “Things unseen and eternal”

My sweet little mother died a few days ago and my family and I are grieving her loss. (See pictures of her at A pause.)

Professionally, Mom was extraordinarily accomplished, but everyone knew the most important things were her family, God, and her church.

I am deeply thankful to her for teaching us how to know, serve, and love God and others.

Mom showed us how to live well, how to grow old with dignity and grace and, in the end, how to die well—to die in peace.

King David, too, lived well and died well, in peace. In the Bible he is commended for carrying out his duties with integrity of heart and with skillful hands, and then, when David had accomplished God’s purpose in his own generation, he died (Psalm 78:70-72, Acts 13:36). 

When David breathed his last breath, what a sense of peace he must have held, knowing he had accomplished God’s unique purposes for him. What a sense of satisfaction (the right kind)!

I am confident my little mother, too, lived with integrity of heart and with skillful hands—that she accomplished God’s purposes for her generation, and died in peace. Hers was a life well-lived.

Dying. Death. What are they?

Here’s what Henry Van Dyke wrote:

A Parable of Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side
spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch
until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
‘There she goes!’
Gone where? Gone from my sight—that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the places of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘There she goes!’
there are other eyes watching her coming
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
‘Here she comes!’ 

(Henry Van Dyke)

I know Mom heard, loud and clear, “Welcome! Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

I can only begin to imagine what she’s experiencing now.

She is seeing God face to face.

Eternal life is no longer something she only partially grasps.

Mysteries suddenly make sense.

Heavenly, unseen things are perfectly clear.

All the pieces have fallen into place.

Everything that puzzled her now makes sense.

She’s now involved in a “…contemplation of things unseen and eternal” (A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie).

How about you?

What are your thoughts about dying?

What do you think heaven will be like?

At the end of your time on earth,
what will it be like to stand before God
face to face, one on one?

What stories can you write for your kids, grandkids, and great-grands?

Dying and death and God and heaven seem elusive and mystifying and scary, especially for young people, so writing about them can benefit both you and your readers. Your stories can quiet fears. They can help others live with courage as they face the unknown.

Your stories can make readers think. Examine. Refine their stances. Take a fresh look. Maybe change the way they live, especially when their time on earth draws to an end.

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die…”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

In writing your memoir, teach your readers how to live,
but do more than that: Teach them about that “time to die.”

God can use your stories to bless your readers. Really!
Stories are among God’s most powerful tools.
They can fortify timid hearts,
help people make important decisions
and find their way,
and inspire readers to find God’s purposes for their lives.

Your stories can change lives forever.

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  1. Beautiful how you use your mother's passing to encourage others to write their stories. God bless and keep you and all your loved ones as you pass through this transition and grief. Hugs.xx

  2. Ah, Penny, you are so kind and loving --- such an encourager! Thank you for all the ways you bless me!

  3. My condolences to you, Linda. I'm glad you can accept your Mother's passing, and I trust that you will continue to find ways to remain connected to her across the Divide.

  4. Samantha, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. You are so thoughtful, and I am touched. Blessings to you, dear friend.