Saturday, February 08, 2014

End of Life Decisions . . .

. . . should never be put off, no matter what your age or circumstances. Our affairs had been in order, but an update has been needed.  Tom and I depended on each other to carry out the details, but when you are alone, all the details may not be known.  Thus, these end of life decisions have been weighing heavily on my mind lately.  At my age and with my health issues, I have known I needed to get my affairs in order, sooner, rather than later.  My "first thing in the morning" routine on Thursday was used in a mighty way to assure, remind and provide new insight.

Thursday was the second anniversary of Susan's passing.  She was Marty's oldest and dearest friend; wife, mother, daughter, sister, a nuclear physicist who worked for NASA. A couple of months after the birth of their second child, inflammatory breast cancer, a cancer that is aggressive and deadly, was discovered.  As a tribute to Susan on that anniversary, some friends posted a recording of "His Eye is on the Sparrow," arranged and sung by Marty at Susan's memorial service.  It was the first thing I saw and heard on Facebook that day.  "Why should I be discouraged? . . . Why should my heart be lonely, when Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He? . . . I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."  That was Susan's conviction, the way she lived the few short years after diagnosis.  Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth, who is sovereign over all His creation, cares for the most insignificant sparrow and I KNOW He cares for me.  Wonderful assurance!

The reminder came in the first chapter of II Timothy. Paul is writing to his friend and co-worker, Timothy.  It's obvious from the beginning verses that Paul cares deeply for Timothy, he is grateful for him and gently, but firmly, instructs him on ministry matters.  Paul is grateful for Timothy's rich faith that was "handed down to him by his grandmother and mother, Eunice."  They were used by God to instruct Timothy by their nurture, their teaching of God's word and by their very lives to instill in him a deep and rich faith.  I have been concerned that Tom's wishes to help with our grandchildren's education be carried out to the letter.  That has been uppermost in my mind as I update my will.  Do what Tom wanted; make some provision for the grandchildren!  A few simple words in II Timothy reminded me that even more important than a few dollars for education is that I am faithful to God's word in my words and actions.  To help guide the children in their faith is the best I can do.  As someone posted on FB this morning, I need to be the person I want my children/grandchildren to be.

I often think about life and death, not just my own, but that of others, as well.  Why do some live extraordinarily long lives and others don't?  Why is one life sustained, another cut short?  Why did such a exceptional person like Susan die so young? Why was Tom stricken with Parkinson's? Why have I been given bonus years?  Most of us have questions. Have you ever said: "I have read that passage many times, but not until now did I notice __________?" ( You fill in the blank.)  That happened Thursday.  R.C. Sproul has written outlines for the books of the Bible for the New Geneva Study Bible that are concise and a good accompaniment to daily reading.  Dr. Sproul, in writing on the characteristics of and the themes in II Timothy, says that Paul's situation is bleak. He is in prison, he has been abandoned by friends and he could no longer  "look forward to fruitful ministry." Yet, Paul remained faithful and confident.  He knew that the One who had provided for him, rescuing him FROM death, would also rescue him THROUGH death.  Susan and Tom had been rescued, just as I will be . . . and you and you and you.  Susan had suffered a lot of physical pain; Tom suffered the loss of physical and cognitive function; health crises have been a part of my life.  Our decisions to LIVE by God's grace is something the three of us held in common. We knew God was rescuing us FROM death and that in His time, He would rescue us from pain and loss THROUGH death.  New insight from II Timothy. 

Susan's family and friends miss her no less and will always remember the anniversary of her rescue; Tom' family and friends miss him no less and will always remember the anniversary (2-7-11) of  his rescue; my family and friends continue to pray for my rescue from death.  Being rescued through death is yet to come.  Til then, I will remember and praise God for His eye being on me and I will ask God to show me how to share the best gift of all, belief in Him.

Pastor Margaret

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