Isaiah 55:10-11 As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
These are words I read in a book (Praying Circles Around Your Children, by Mark Batterson) at the start of the chapter I was on as I sat in a chair next to my Gram on December 22, 2018, after she had a series of small heart attacks. She’d had a few similar episodes since 2015, and as we had on other occasions, we feared she wouldn’t pull through. So I sat, I cried, and I prayed. And prayed, and prayed. And then, knowing I was in for a long night, opened the book to read a bit and these words flew off the page and dug deep in my heart.
I had read them before. I knew that’s what God’s word says to us. But on this day, after a decade of praying for a logical, strong-willed, set in her ways, woman to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, I knew it was God’s reassuring promise to me, that He could and would still save her.
As I let that sink in, and stir around in my soul a while, I tucked the promise away and prayed again, I don't know how you will God, but Your word says “it will not return to me empty” so I will trust You in this.
My Gram was not a believer in the resurrected Jesus, salvation, or heaven, and as a believer myself, this broke me. I wanted to see her again. I wanted to know where she would spend eternity. I wanted her to be saved. I wanted her to know Jesus. But I didn’t want her to do it for me, I wanted her to accept Him for her sake, and His glory.
If I’m being honest, which I have no reason not to be now, I would pray, but I would always wonder ‘How’? How will You bend her knees to You? How will You submit her heart to the truth? How will You open her eyes to Jesus, when she lives amid His miracles and answered prayers daily, and still doesn’t believe?
Well, six months ago today, she passed away peacefully in our home, and the Bible says, for those who call on, and believe in the name of Jesus, that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. It is still among the greatest gift of my life to say that I was able to rejoice that day, in my sadness, that Gram was welcomed home, into the arms of Jesus, because:
As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God promised that whosoever believes in His Son, would not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3:16, and she had finally believed.
In the days leading up to her death, as God has a way of doing, He brought her to a place of dependance on Him, of submission, and faith, and belief, and acceptance, of Jesus Christ.
Her final weeks and days will forever remain among the hardest of my life, but in that time, I saw a decade of prayers for her, and promises given by my Heavenly Father, come to fruition. To say that time with her is a gift is an understatement. It strengthened my faith, my resolve in praying the long, hard prayers, and gave me a sister in Christ, even as my best friend, greatest supporter, and biggest fan left us, and this world.
We talk about her every day. Her memory is in everything we do. It has been so hard to be without her these past six months. In 43 years, I don’t think I ever went longer than a week without talking to her. I find I still tell her goodnight occasionally, or expect to see her coming across the floor pushing her walker as I come down the basement stairs in the quiet, early morning hours. And sometimes, when I think I’d like to call someone, just to chat, my first thought is to call her….to catch her up on how the kids are doing at school, or the latest new word or funny thing that Logan has done, or that we just celebrated our fourth adoption anniversary for Sophia, or tell her about our evening boat rides, or the new dog, or…….
Timothy asked for chili dogs for his birthday dinner earlier this month because those were Gram’s favorite and it would help us to feel like she was with us on his birthday. It’s beautiful and heart wrenching in the same breath. And I find grief really is an untamed beast that stalks out of the woods unannounced, inciting heaving tears, or taking the breath right from my lungs.
We cry. We remember her life and her time with us. We recall that she would tell us how living with our family made her final years among her best, and we are grateful for that. And then we celebrate that she is with Jesus. Because that, friends, is worth celebrating.
In Christ alone,