The expression on the doctor’s face spoke volumes before his mouth uttered a word. “I’m sorry. You have Stage 4 lung cancer.”
My mother must have sensed the diagnosis in her heart, as she barely flinched at the report. In stark contrast, I sat motionless, tears battling to reach the surface, yet gulped down in a show of protective strength. The c-monster had visited our family before and I knew its destructive power. No need to ask, “How long does she have doctor?” A day, a week, perhaps a few months, no one could really say. Except God.
A sense of urgency pulsed through my veins. No time for wimpy evangelism. This soldier of the cross would do battle, advancing beyond the fear of embarrassment and rejection, to ensure victory in Jesus and his shed blood. Eternity pressed upon the ranks and mom’s position must be secured.
“Mom, are you certain heaven will be your home after you die?”
Her eyes softened, keenly aware of this daughter’s distraught heart. “Don’t you remember when I joined the church, honey?”
Had my attempts to witness been so lame that my mother believed salvation depended upon church membership? In the past, I allowed the conversation to end with her response, but not this time. No, there was no margin for error or false security.
“Mom, what do you mean by ‘you joined the church’? I do remember when you walked to the front of the church in response to the pastor’s invitation. Do you recall what you prayed?” I was selective with my words so as not to “lead the witness.”
Memories of her life advanced frame-by-frame for an audience of two, my mother and God. “I told God I was a sinner and I was sorry. Then I thanked him for dying on the cross for me, and asked him to come into my life and take control. Is that sufficient?”
Not only were my mother’s humble words sufficient, but her eternity was secure, and my heart found peace, even in the face of the vicious c-monster. There would be no final goodbyes, only “see you in heaven.” Joy unspeakable, grace so amazing!
Three weeks later another c-monster visited my mother – coma. Lying beside her, I stroked her hand, conveying in words and touch the depths of my love. The night was still and eerily quiet, sunlight a noticeable absentee. If only morning could deliver relief from the suffering and pain. Suddenly, words spoken earlier by the hospice volunteer reverberated in my ear, “Sometimes our loved ones need permission to die.”
Tears streaming, I whispered, “We’ll be okay, Mom. You can go to heaven now.”
Eyes sealed by coma for two days popped wide open at the mention of heaven, and then closed again in comforted reassurance. Yes, her eternity was secure and two hours later she was in the presence of another C – CHRIST.
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