My mom is dying but it’s not her first death. About 20 years ago my mom was dead to God. She had given up on life. Here are her own words that she shared to our church…
“It’s sad how we can be so hurt and angry that we walk away from God. It’s not that I blamed Him- I didn’t. But my life took some turns that I wasn’t prepared for. And I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t handle it very well. I fell into the pit of depression and couldn’t seem to find a way out. I stopped going to church and even praying. I felt so useless and betrayed. I wouldn’t talk to my pastor when he called or tried to come to my home. I cut my friends out of my life and just kept sinking into that black, never-ending pit.
My five children had grown up and left home starting a life of their own and didn’t seem to need me anymore. My husband was an alcoholic and very hard to live with. In addition, he had an affair with another woman. The first time when he asked for me to forgive him I did. But he continued over and over again. So I made him move out of the home. That was the darkest time in my life. I never left my home after that. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed anymore. I never took a shower or washed my hair. I never changed my clothes and after a while I’m sure I smelled pretty bad, but I didn’t care or even think to care about it.
To enter our home, if you were family, you had to knock on the garage door and I would open it from the inside. If someone knocked on the front door I wouldn’t go to see who it was. I only answered to the knocks on the garage door knowing it was family. Before I allowed anyone to enter, I would turn on the TV and the light so my family wouldn’t know I had been sitting in the dark. The story goes on and doesn’t get any better.
So I will just jump ahead and tell you that my son Kurt, after many times of coming to see me, would sit in his car crying to the LORD in prayer for me. He had other Christians praying for me and indeed God heard their prayers! It was only God’s will that I left my home and moved to Fullerton. This was the beginning of my salvation. He arranged things in such a way that I was persuaded to make Fullerton my permanent home. I started to go back to church where the LORD got a hold of my heart and opened my eyes. I only thought that I knew Him before but this time it was for real. Jesus had saved me!”
My mom literally moved from death to life. I am reminded of Ephesians 2
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.”
She became a new creation in Christ! Her life, since God saved her, has been one of continual service and sacrificial giving. Only God knows how much she has given of herself to others without ever expecting anything in return. She has consistently for years cooked, cleaned, driven, given, served, loved, supported, encouraged, traveled, visited, gifted, spoken, prayed, listened and spent tens of thousands of dollars on others.
One of her favorite things to do has been to host small gatherings in her home. She would spend days cleaning and preparing her small condominium for guests she had thoughtfully invited. She would grocery shop, prep, prepare and serve delectable cuisine that she had mastered over the centuries of cooking. The meal would always be served on a table that had been prepared with care, each item properly put in its place. Great conversation, storytelling, relationship-building, and laughter would always be ever-present guests that seemed to touch all who were fortunate enough to attend. The hospitality she shared was a gift from above that mom exercised with consistency to family and friends alike. In fact, this was often a means for her to make new friends.
Few knew that these wonderful times would often end in physical exhaustion and require days of recuperation for mom. She would literally be unable to function and barely able to breathe after all the cleaning had ended. She would be relegated to her chair with little capacity to do much else than sit. But to her the suffering was always worth it. The joy of serving the LORD by serving others was always a great reward that far outweighed the toll it had on her physically. So, she would eventually recover and plan her next “service of love.”
At the time of this writing Mom lies in a hospital bed racked with pain. She may recover but it’s hard for me to imagine her ever doing anything like what she has done for others again… at least in this life. However, I know my mom is headed into the LORD’s presence, not because of all her work she has done, but because of the work Jesus has accomplished for her with His life, death and resurrection. Her assurance is in Christ alone.
My mom, and her loving service and joyful hospitality, has been a picture of Jesus in this life since she came to faith. Jesus told His disciples, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Imagine that! With loving care the LORD Jesus has been preparing a place for my mom! What a place that will be! Mom’s guests were always impressed with her careful preparation and eye for detail. Mom, you haven’t seen anything yet!
Of course this is speculation but I believe the LORD Jesus will allow my mom to be a part of the preparation in heaven for some of us whom are trusting in Jesus. As she precedes us into the glory of God’s presence I can see her, with loving care, a smile on her face and joyful anticipation help the LORD prepare our “place”. Some may see work in heaven as a burden that makes heaven less than happy but my mom has never seen work for others as a burden but as a lasting joy.
One day soon my mom’s joy will be complete. I look forward to that day when Jesus along with my mom will welcome me into the place they have been preparing for me.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” ~ Romans 8:18
I love you mom. Thank you for setting us an example of what true Christian hospitality and service looks like.