only what was within her

We had 110 days from the time of my Mom’s diagnosis to the time she met Jesus face to face. 110 days. A lot happened during that time. A lot of beauty and a lot of pain. In late October, God lifted my face up and whispered in my ear to redeem the time, to live alive, to be present, and to lay a good heritage. He showed me where to go ahead of time and I am so thankful for His whisper.

One month in, God stirred in my heart that we were getting ready for something we could never be ready for. Our family was getting ready for a move. We didn’t need a moving company or directions to the new home. There wouldn’t be any boxes or packaging tape or bubble wrap. We weren’t sure when we were going to move. Should we make sure to eat at our favorite restaurants in case there’s not one nearby? What will our new home be like, where will it be, and how will we get there? There were so many unanswered questions for all of us. The way we’ve seen and looked at and enjoyed our present home for so many years would come to an end. So how could we possibly prepare?

All our lives, we’ve been in charge, or at least we acted like we were. But this move would be different. We weren’t in charge of anything for this move, which was actually a relief because we were getting weaker and weaker every day. The days of being strong were gone, our bodies were changing and we didn’t really know them anymore. God helped us to remember that He was sufficient for us, and His strength was made perfect in our weakness. At this we said Hallelujah, because we were weak and we saw that we needed His strength. And at this we said Hallelujah, because we were so glad to remember that ALL we needed was His grace. So, we forgot the boxes, we forgot the wrap, and we just waited for our Mover to arrive and take our hand to show us the way to our new home.

I remember the one thing my Mom continued to talk about. How will I get there? She kept looking upward, asking “how do I open that?” She kept telling us she was going to get on that train and go down that road, and we told her it was ok, she could go. I woke up early one morning, listening to her talking to someone in her new bedroom in our dining room. She was so happy talking, saying “Shorty, Shorty, oh Shorty! How I do get there, Shorty?” This was the most important question in her life. She was searching for the way while she was awake and while she was asleep. Later that morning, when she woke up, I asked her if she remembered speaking to Shorty last night. She said yes. I asked her if she saw her and she said no. When I asked her how she knew it was Shorty, she just looked at me and said “because she was talking to me.” A sweet, happy conversation with her sister who had already passed on to be in the presence of her Lord. And her most important question to her sister was “how do I get there?” Not having any idea how to answer her question, I hugged her and told her that God wasn’t going to make her figure it out, God was going to do it.

Trust and control touch each other in a way not many other things do. With every breath, we’re faced with the choice to trust or hold control. In the depths of our spirits, this struggle persists and persists and persists. I saw this in my Mom, and the struggle lasted almost right up to the finish. And so I got to see the most incredible thing in the world happen…I got to see her trust that God would show her the way, I got to see her release any control, I got to see her rest in her Savior from her last breath here, to her first breath in eternity. And though there is sorrow, there is peace, there is joy.

The next few weeks were pretty weird in my home. She had lived with us for the last five years and she met Jesus in our dining room. I was more than a little nervous about what our home would “feel” like once this was over. I said “Hi Mama” each time I walked through the dining room. We’ve gone through her belongings and tried to consider where her things should go. We’ve cried and laughed and seen each other in a way we never have. One thing weighed on me through all of it; all of her things were still here. Even her body was still here. Only her life was gone and the only thing she brought to eternity was what was within her. And this simple fact has become so profound to me. All that she brought with her was only what was within her. And all these things were left. We can only bring with us what is within us. A simple truth known in such a fuller way. Thank you Lord for teaching me this.

My Mama is in the presence of her Maker, where there is no sun because He is the Light. So sing Mama sing, and praise Him all the day long. And just so you know, it is well with my soul.

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