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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Give Thanks

When I first planned to write this blog, the last thing on my mind was giving thanks. My mind was so cluttered with grief, questions, doubts, fears and even anger at the sudden passing of my beloved daughter-in-law just three weeks ago. I wore my grief like a cloak every moment of the day and even when I went to sleep. How could someone so young, beautiful and vibrant be dead? I had lived long enough, had come across death many times to know that death is a reality. One we hate to talk or think about, much less face. But here we were, face to face with death in all its cruelty and meanness.

Even though, or maybe because I am a Christian, I believe that death is an enemy. It is no friend-not something to be embraced-as some people think. And I base my belief on the fact that Jesus, when He walked this earth, ran death out of town every time He met it. Even on the cross He raised all the righteous dead who were in paradise, and they appeared to many! (Matthew 27: 52-53) However, death is an enemy that has been conquered by Jesus Christ. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesu Christ" (1 Corinthians 15 55-57).

So for those of us who die in Christ, death is a glorious thing, because we have conquered it, and we go to meet our Lord. But for those who die outside of Christ, the sting of death is present because after death is judgement. So I ask the question again, why did a thirty-six-year-old beautiful wife and mother die so suddenly? For answers I look to the cross of Jesus Christ. He was only thirty-three when He died. But He had finished the work that God had appointed Him to do here on earth. I believe Lisa had finished the work God called her to do.

While attending the University of the West Indies, Lisa became a member of Campus Crusade for Christ, telling others about the Lord, but gave it up when she married my son. She threw herself into helping her husband in his business and raising their three children. However, she continued to work for the Lord, and just the night before she died, Lisa prayed with one of her friends whom she had been counseling. Even after her death, she continues to work for Him, leading us through her testimony to greater faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Just eleven days before she died, Lisa began writing a journal. Here’s an excerpt of what she wrote:

"Begin with the end in mind,” somebody once said.
What shall my "end" on this earth be? And is there really an end? Death is the end, but after death is judgement and to_be_absent from this body_is to be present with you, Jesus. So my question should be - what is my purpose for this phase of life — this human phase, this short capsule of time before I pass from death to life and enter eternity?

To lead as many as I can to the place He is preparing for us. We can't miss out! At the end of this phase I want to hear Jesus say, "Well done, thou, good and faithful servant. You have picked up your cross, you abode in me, you loved me with all your heart and you loved others and loved yourself. You told others the Truth, that I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one gets to Our Father, but through me; that their sins are forgiven them - all their sins were nailed with me on the cross and they now qualify to enter heaven for all eternity — because of me".
Jesus, I want you to be proud of me. This is my end on this earth, not to please men, but to please God.

Yet there is the-tug of war in my soul. For I still want the typical, human end - wealth, honour, a nice home for my family, money to pay all my bills comfortably, good cars that I can afford and maintain, well behaved and educated children, a romantic marriage, success and recognition in the local community. Alas, Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed at the thought of it all. Where do I put myself? Time is short.
But then I hear You say "Delight yourself in me and I will give you the desires of your heart." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.'' And "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, then you shall ask what you will and it shall be given."..... "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well. Cast all your cares on me because I care for you".

Lisa had come to the place where the most important thing in life to her was to do the will of the Lord and to prepare herself and others to be with Him. She had come to realize that all her dreams-the typical human end as she put it-took second place to being all that God wanted her to be. As for me, whenever I think of her, I thank God for the ten short years that I knew her. She was more than a daughter-in-law. She was a friend, a counselor, a bearer of hope.

At the news of her death my faith took a beating, but now, the more I reflect on how she lived and how she died, I have renewed faith in Jesus Christ. I realize that He is with us in our joys and our sorrows, in our fears and our cares, in our todays and our tomorrows. Yes, I do have something to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the love of Jesus.