Our Bible Study ended and families began to congregate in the hallway where the buzz of indistinct chatter filled the air. I navigated my way through the crowd when a discernible sound drew my attention.
A young girl spotted her friend and called out her name in such a way that I could almost feel the delight in her voice. It was as if she found something that had been lost. Her spontaneity and affection were so telling that I actually said, “Wow, I wish someone would greet me that way.”
Though my tone was merely conversational, the fact that the words leaped out of my mouth was significant. In the book of Luke we read that what we say flows from what is in our hearts. It was evident that the young girl’s greeting was heartfelt; so too was my statement.
It had been less than two weeks since my sister and dearest friend Cheryl died, leaving a hole in my heart the size of a fist. She had been ill for several years, but had recently entered the hospital with stage 4 cancer. She had loved and served the Lord for over 30 years, both on her feet and from her sick bed. Cheryl’s testimony was so profound that over 1,000 people attended her memorial service. Several of them sought out family members in order to share their stories about how she had impacted their lives.
My tears stream from a twisted mélange of sorrow and hope. Her death has touched parts of my soul that had been un-stirred until now. I have prayed for hundreds of people who have lost loved ones. How had they reconciled their losses? The sense of unfinished business is intense when someone you love has died. There are things you want to say and do, questions you want to ask, and love you want to give.
At Cheryl’s hospice bedside the family would wait for an opportunity to communicate with her because she really did not have the strength for conversation. As I watched her sleep my thoughts would cycle through heartbreak for the family and contempt for her suffering. I prayed repeatedly, “Lord are we really going to lose her?” It felt truly unbelievable.
I braided her long wavy hair and stroked her face. Cheryl was leaving earth and I wanted to send her off with the biggest hug ever; as her older sister it just seemed right for both of us. But her body had become too frail for that. I would settle for a kiss on her forehead, and a knowing grin.
Back in the church hallway, just seconds after I spoke, I was literally tackled from behind. Catching my balance I turned to see a beautiful little girl peering up at me. She was about 8 years old, African, with lovely braided hair. I did not know her name, but she had her arms wrapped tightly around my waist. I looked into her darling little face and said, “You heard me? I didn’t think anyone heard me…thank you for the hug!”
She gave me a big smile and I knew immediately that God had inspired the child’s purposeful actions. Her hug was strong, affectionate, and greatly comforting. Strangely and wonderfully it was characteristic of the hug that I had hoped to give to my sister; and I was stunned once again by the thoughtful ways that God works in our lives.
We read in Ecclesiastes 11:5, “As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, who does all”.
The child ran off to find her friend and I remained to collect my thoughts. I wondered if God had made Cheryl aware of his intervention. Could she see what had just happened, and did she know what it represented? I’ll be sure to ask when I get to heaven … shortly after I tackle her with a great big hug!
Matthew 5:4 NLT God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts …”
Luke 6:45 NLT A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 5/20/2012 8:18 PM