I Saw Much More

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I stood over her bed at the hospice facility and my heart squeezed as I observed her weakened state. The wrinkles on her face and hands attested to the 90+ years she had traveled this earth. Anyone who didn't know her would simply see an old, dying woman. But I saw so much more. 

She was a faithful member of the church where my husband was the pastor. For over a decade, we saw her welcome members and visitors to our church. The thing that struck you most upon meeting her was that she loved people and, most of all, she loved God. She was already in her 80s when we met but when the worship band began to play, she lifted her soft, gravelly voice in praise with shaky arms raised to the heavens. She brought smiles and tears of joy to faces as they watched her step into the aisle to dance for her Savior – her heart too full to be contained. She attended every church service, prayer service, and Bible study. If the doors of the church were open, she would be there unless she was ill or it was dark outside, for her weak eyes could not see well in the night. I saw her hug children in the hallway and she treated everyone alike no matter their race or nationality. Her family loved her and she was a prayer warrior for them and for our church. 

So as I stood over her bed at the hospice center, she was much more than just an old woman to me. I saw before me a lady who was once strong and widowed, raising two young children while working full-time. God was her partner. I saw a grandmother whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren adored her. I saw a faithful servant of God who would be greatly missed by a congregation. But most of all, I saw a lady who was not to be pitied. 

As she lay on her bed, we sang a hymn. Using her weakened voice, she sang along – sometimes just moving her lips – as tears of joy rolled down her cheeks. My eyes glistened with tears as I watched her and I remember thinking, When I am laying on my deathbed one day, I want to be just like her–full of the joy of the Lord. I knew that when her Prince Redeemer came and held His hand out to her, she would place her wrinkled, shaking hand into His and step out of her shriveled body finally free of all that had held her down. At that moment, she would leave us behind, but the memory of her joy for the Master would linger in our minds and encourage us to live our lives in such a way so we, too, could obtain that same glorious ending for ourselves.

He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:29, 31 NLT)

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January 19, 2022