Too many times we wait until a friend has died to tell the world what a wonderful person she/he was, and I'm just as guilty as the next person about that. For this day, however, I would like to pay tribute to a very dear friend, and pray that God will allow me to be present as she is presented with her crown in glory just so that I might bask in the glow that it will cast off on those around her.
Her name is Angela. She's one of those friends who, over the years of my life, has taught me what it means to be a true friend. No matter what has gone in my life--the good, the bad, the unlovely--she has been there.
Sometimes God has sent her to me through supernatural means. Really. I remember one particularly bad week in my life about five years ago. I was torn inside about a family situation and not sure how to handle it. I spent a lot of time crying and praying and struggling. One afternoon, on my way home from work, I cried out loud to God, "I could use a little help here, Father!" Nothing happened that evening, but the next day I received an email from Angela which said, "Okay, what's going on? God sent you to me in three different dreams last night. I'm home if you need to call." IF I need to call?
(Rabbit trail here: Isn't God good? Don't you just love the way He works in our lives? I sure do.)
Anyway, I picked that phone right up and called my dear friend, Angela. And just as sure as I knew she would, she counseled me from the Word of God and from her experience. Her advice was right on the mark, of course. And I took it.
Now, let me tell you some things about my friend, Angela. She is a gifted woman--exceptional seamstress, wonderful cook, great homemaker. But above all that, for as long as I've known her, Angela has been a caregiver. She cares for her husband and has successfully raised two great kids. She takes care of other folks' children, as well as having cared for up two elderly family members at the same time, both of whom lived in her home with her family. And when those two rooms became available as those dear family members went home to heaven, she brought in another family member to care for. Does Angela consider herself a martyr? Not in the selfish sense, I assure you. But has she died to Christ to carry out His will for her life? My observations say overwhelmingly, "YES!"
Angela's life isn't perfect, of course. She has days when she'd like to run away and forget it all. Who wouldn't? Even knowing that your life calling has become being a caregiver doesn't make the stress easy to bear. Is everything else in her life perfect? No. Whose is? Does she complain about it? Not as much or as often as I complained about having the stomach flu just recently!
What I also want you to know about my dear friend Angela is this: I love her. I love her for being a true and faithful friend, even when I was not the same to her. I love her for being an example to me of what it means to be truly unselfish. I love her for listening when God keeps her awake all night with my name on her mind. I love her cooking. I love her practicality. I love the absolutely perfect, right-on-target cards she sends me. I just love her. And if you knew her, I know you would love her too.
Ask Jesus about her when you get to heaven. He'll point out the mansion with the bright glow coming out all the windows from all the jewels in her crown.