The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(We found out yesterday that a dear sister in Christ, Ms. Liz, went to be with our Lord. I write these words with a sense of both joy and sorrow. You may recall our writing about her, first in 2011, and then in 2016. I'm resending some of those thoughts, which describe the blessing she was to so many in this life, and doubtless, the blessing she now is to so many in Heaven.)
"Soaring and Singing"
"I sure wish I could go with you and Frances."
Ms. Liz said this in response to the mention of our hike in the mountains of Virginia. We conducted a service today before we left for Virginia at the retirement community where Ms. Liz lives. She's hiked those mountains, and would love to do so again. It's not going to happen in this lifetime, however. Ms. Liz's body is confined to a wheelchair, in stark contrast to her soaring, singing spirit. Indeed, you may recall my mention of this dear Christian woman in a previous Orange Moon from several years ago:
"I think also of Ms. Liz, the dear lady who loves the first hymn many of us ever learned as children. "Glen," Ms. Liz told me one day, When I'm going down the halls in my wheelchair and encounter somebody who looks down and sad, I stop and take them by the hand. I ask the person, "Why don't we sing 'Jesus Loves Me' together? It always seems to help."
I never think about th imagery without tears, as in the present moment. Allow yourself to imagine such moments of grace, communicated by the Spirit of the living God through His daughter. Consider how many hearts He has encouraged by her words, and by her song. Ms. Liz performs her ministry in a nursing facility, and from a wheelchair that prohibits her from trekking through the mountains of Virginia, or most other places in the world. It does not hinder her soaring and singing, however, and her escorting others into Heavenly places from that wheelchair. I'll think about that for the next 5 days as we venture into the mountains. And I'll sing "Jesus Loves Me" for Ms. Liz.
I responded to Ms. Liz's expressed desire. "Ms. Liz, remember that you, Frances and I have already made plans for a hike some day." Last month after a service, I suggested to our dear sister in Christ that in eternity, we will find some beautiful planet yonder in the "new heaven" after God has redeemed and perfected all things (Revelation 21:1). "We'll see glorious sights there, Ms. Liz, and you'll lead the way as we ascend purple hills, wade in crystal waters, gaze into skies bluer than blue, and rejoice in the glory of God that will shine forth in all things and all places." Miss Liz smiled again today as I reminded of our plans. For now, of course, she'll soar in song and in helping others to realize the love of Christ. "Jesus loves me, this I know…" Yes He does, Ms. Liz. Yes, He does…
"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!" (Psalm 34:3).
Addendum, 2018: Yesterday, I said goodbye to Ms. Liz as we left a service at the retirement community where she lives. She continues to suffer great physical challenges, and her body remains confined to her wheelchair. I told her how much we had enjoyed seeing her, as always, and Ms. Liz looked at me with the piercing and intent gaze I've seen so many times. "Glen, the Lord has taken such good care of me! He is so good!"
I've heard believers say that many times over the years. It is always a blessing to hear. But yesterday, Ms. Liz's testimony of God's good grace seemed to shine all the more brightly as a ray of particularly beautiful light proceeding from what might seem to be a dark place. Yet again, that "soaring and singing" spirit graced my heart with its beauty. And I remembered Luke's narrative of a grace that composes the most sublime melodies and harmonies where they seem unlikely and impossible:
"And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely, who having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God" (Acts 16:23-25).
Ms. Liz has suffered "many stripes," as it were, stripes of pain, loss, and hardship. All appearances would indicate she is confined to a prison, with her "feet fast in the stocks." This is not really the case, however, Ms. Liz's heart is free, her song abides, and yesterday we again saw and heard the glory of a Christ whose illumination so often shines most brightly where we might not expect to see it. It certainly does in Ms. Liz.
Addendum: 2021. Farewell for now, Ms. Liz. We will remember you with joy, wonder, and gratitude. As you suggested so long ago, we still close our services with "Jesus Loves Me." And we look forward to that hike!
"I will sing unto the LORD, because He hath dealt bountifully with me."
Weekly Memory Verse
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen
(II Peter 3:18).