HEAVEN

Mom was an extreme extrovert. She talked more than the average person and everyone listened. She was the only woman I know who could laugh at herself and her own jokes and get everyone around her smiling and laughing.

After Dad passed, Mom and I had some sweet times of fellowship when I was in the States for a visit. The last time I saw Mom, she started telling me how much she loved me and how proud she was for everything I’d done. Then she said, “When I die, do not worry about anything. I’ve taken care of it all.”

“All the arrangements are complete. I really like Rev. Belton and left instructions he should preach my funeral, and gave him the scriptures and songs I want sung. His offering is in an envelope on my dresser. My outfit is hanging in the closet, cleaned, and pressed. It’s marked for my funeral and ready to go. I’ve written out my obituary, and I’ve handwritten thank you notes to all my pallbearers that I’ve requested.”

My mouth fell open as she continued. “I didn’t want to burden you or the others with having to make funeral arrangements, especially when it’s easier for me to write out my wishes. And I had fun doing it. So don’t concern yourself. I’m officially excusing you from coming to my funeral. You probably won’t hear about it in Africa, since letters take a month. So you have my permission and blessing not to come. It really will not matter.”

Then she ended. “I won’t be at my funeral either. I’LL BE IN HEAVEN WITH DAD!”

When I finally caught my breath, I realized Mom had become a fanatic like me. But while growing up she and Dad tried to stop me from becoming a religious fanatic.

We hugged and kissed, said we loved each other, and I got on the plane for Africa. A month later, I had a dream that Mom died. Dad was standing in Heaven waiting for Mom, and he said, “I’ve been waiting a long time for you. What took you so long getting here?”

Mom said, “I needed extra time with the grandchildren.”

A few days later, I received a letter from my sister. She lived next door to Mom and checked on her every day. She found Mom in her nightgown early one morning shortly after I left. It appeared she died in her sleep in the night. Glory to God. Mom had her heart’s desire, to die peacefully in her home.

Mom’s last words were an inspiration to me. So I wrote out what I wanted for my memorial service, the scriptures, and songs and had lots of fun.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Posted in missions | Leave a comment

The Still Small Voice

Elijah, God’s prophet, boldly faced down the prophets of Baal on Mr. Carmel. (1 Kings 18) Then Jezebel threatened to kill him, so Elijah fled. An angel fed him, and he ran far away to Mt. Sinai.

“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1Kings 19:9-12)

Running away from Jezebel was the lowest, most depressing point of Elijah’s life. He needed a word from God. Encouragement. Direction. Hope. And God gave him specific, clear directions.

During low points in my life, I needed to leave people, distractions, and the daily busyness. And be still. Be in absolute silence. Extreme quiet. And I, too, heard that still small voice giving hope and guidance.

Posted in missions | Leave a comment

Dad and Mom

Dad was an extreme introvert. He rarely talked but when he did, it was significant. Dad and Mom were affectionate and very close. When Dad came home each evening from work at six, he went straight to Mom, hugged her, and whispered something. Mom then put the food on the table, Dad sat at the head and Mom sat next to Dad. She never sat at the foot of the table. Dad kept Mom constantly supplied with chocolates because of her desire for them. Mom couldn’t drive, so Dad always took Mom shopping, not just for groceries but for dresses and shoes. They were happier than other couples I’d seen. 

My parents never explained why talking about the Lord, getting saved, church services, pastors, offerings, baptisms, and church membership were wrong.  But they seemed determined to stop me from ruining my life as a religious fanatic, so I was surprised they let me and my siblings continue going to Sunday school.

Years later, after my sisters and I left home, Dad and Mom moved out of NY and retired to a small town in NC. When I told them the Lord called me to Africa as a missionary, they were hurt and angry. I was throwing my life away on pagans and would probably be killed by headhunters or eaten by cannibals. They blamed my strange behavior on that blow to my head in the accident and were convinced I suffered brain damage. But I was an adult, and they could do nothing to stop me. So they worried and started praying for me.

Then the miracle. Praise the Lord. My parents were in their sixties and they became saved. I’d been working in Africa for many years, and whenever I returned to the States between my assignments, (every 2-4 years) I visited them. They had changed. Their lives had completely turned around, which is a sign of becoming a believer. They’d been baptized, attended church, and even joined it. They read the Bible every day. Hallelujah. It was a special blessing to attend church with them.

A few years later I arrived in the States and spent time with Dad and Mom first, then I drove to see supporters and returned for a second visit with my parents before returning to Africa. Dad drove me to the airport an hour away. Dad, Mom, and I hugged. I told them I loved them. And they loved me and I flew to New York. I was waiting for my overseas flight when my Mom called.

Dad had passed away that evening. Mom said Dad had his heart’s desire. He prayed to die quickly in my mother’s arms at home and that’s what he did. So I flew home to be with my Mom for awhile and sort things out. It was a bittersweet funeral. Bitter because Dad hadn’t been a Christian long and we’d not spent much time together. But it was sweet that he was in Heaven.

 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

Posted in missions | Leave a comment