Nancy and I visited our friend, Terri, maybe for the last time yesterday morning. Her body has been increasingly suffering from the effects of multiple-sclerosis since we first met her several years ago and now she is lying in a hospital bed with only days left to live. It felt surreal to me as we interacted with her. He body is loosing the battle, but her mind and spirit remain as strong and beautiful as ever. As we chatted about the transfer of various tasks from Terri to us and other people from our church, it felt like a staff meeting before the boss was leaving on a trip. We joked, prayed, read scripture, and said “Good-bye.” Terri spoke a word of blessing to me personally. How is it that this person can be so full of life today and probably gone by the end of this week? Permanently gone.
I honestly don’t know how to process this. I have questions that I am having trouble even verbalizing. I suspect that if I can formulate the questions that are haunting me deep in my soul that I will be able to find answers. But, that is not happening. On the other hand, I have noticed within myself an increased commitment to do good well. I somehow feel responsible to step up and fill some of the void that Terri is leaving. It is like she will be watching and I don’t want to let her down. Her unfinished ministry is now my responsibility, at least in part.
She asked me to read from Hebrews 11.
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
12 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.