Monday, January 13, 2014

"Lingering Echoes, Lingering Images"

     We lost Miss Martha and Miss Patricia this past week.

     Well, we didn't actually lose them.  But it felt like it.  The two dear ladies were residents at Gordon Oaks, one of the retirement and nursing facilities where we conduct services.  Miss Martha went home to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she loved and trusted.  Miss Patricia left for her earthly home after a 7 month post surgery rehabilitation.  It would be hard to put in words how much we will miss these dear sisters in Christ.  So, it feels very much like loss.

    We will remember Miss Martha for her cheerful attitude and seeming inability to complain.  In the many years she was with us, Frances and I will both attest that we never once heard her utter a negative word about the challenges she faced.  "How are you today, Miss Martha?"  "Fiiiiinnnne!" she would respond with voice that rang with complete sincerity.  In recent months, a fall and declining health presented Miss Martha with much weakness and discomfort.  Nothing changed in her attitude and expression, however.  "Fiiiinnnne!"  The echoes of Miss Martha's joy and peace will echo through the halls of the facility for a long time to come...

    You may recall Miss Patricia if you read the account of our Christmas Eve gathering in the Gordon Oaks cafeteria.  A vibrant believer, she served as the mover and shaker responsible for that wonderful, Son and sun-graced occasion that we will never forget.  Miss Patricia truly loves the Lord Jesus, and she loves people.  She's become such a fixture in our services that when she told me that yesterday would be her last day with us at Gordon Oaks, I initially expressed sorrow for our loss rather than joy in her homegoing.  I had to apologize for that, but she understood.  She promised to stay in touch, and even plans on continuing to attend our services as she becomes more mobile.  I certainly hope that happens, and the image of Miss Patricia traversing the halls on her walker, determined to convene that Christmas Eve meeting, will remain in my heart and mind for a lifetime.

    Ministry in facilities like Gordon Oaks involves many occasions of saying goodbye to people who become very near and dear in the heart.  It's usually the farewell of a final homegoing, such as Miss Martha.  Sometimes, as with Miss Patricia, a dear one returns to an earthly abode.  Either way, it's bittersweet for us.  Indeed, Frances and I concur in the hope that we minister to the residents of the facilities where we conduct services.  We know, however, that we receive much ministry from the Lord through the Miss Marthas and Miss Patricias that shine as lights of grace in venues where people face many challenges.  Far more, however, the face of the Lord Jesus illuminates their hearts, and then glimmers forth from them in glory.  "Ye shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

     It feels like loss that Miss Martha and Miss Patricia will not be with us anymore.  But it also feels like gain.  It is gain for them, and we rejoice and will remember our dear sisters with much thanksgiving for echoes and images that linger in the heart...

"To depart and to be with Christ... is far better."
(Philippians 1:23)
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the , that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore."
(Psalm 133)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

No comments: