“Good morning, Sis,” she would cheerfully announce. Her familiar greeting had become as much a part of my morning routine as my cup of coffee. Sometimes even before it finished brewing, the phone would ring and I knew it was her.
When the phone rang one Sunday afternoon, my husband answered. Immediately I could tell that something was wrong by the way that his body abruptly came to a halt, as if momentarily suspended in time. He pressed his ear into the receiver and listened intently. When he finally responded he spoke in a somber tone of voice with broken sentences.
When my sister hadn’t called for a couple of days, I should have known something wasn’t right. On several occasions I had thought about calling her, but each time I was busy with something. When I try to recall what it was that I had been doing nothing important comes to mind. It’s sad as I reflect upon losses that I have endured that there seems to be some moment of regret: a phone call not made, a visit not taken, or a word not spoken.
The next few days passed quickly preparing for her funeral. Both my youngest sister and I had planned to share a story about our sister’s life at the memorial service, but until the night before I had not had a moment to think about it. At last, retreating to the quiet of my kitchen, I made myself a cup of coffee. This was going to be a late night. I asked the Lord to be with me as I prepared my thoughts. What made her life unique? How did her life affect the lives of others? What would she want me to say? I found myself staring at the phone wishing it would ring with the answers to those questions.
The following afternoon when the time came for the ceremony to begin everyone took their seats. With my husband on one side of me and my daughter on the other, I sat still for the first time in days and exhaustion settled over me. Sitting directly under a cool air vent, which at first felt refreshing, suddenly seemed bitter cold, and my body began to shiver uncontrollably.
My daughter leaned over and whispered, “Mom, are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” I answered, “I’m just cold.” She moved closer to me, attempting to warm my body with her own, and took a hold of my hand to keep it from shaking so badly.
After my youngest sister had shared her story, it was time to tell my own. I got up from my seat and began to walk down the aisle. Struggling to control my shaking, I began to pray:
Lord, help me through this. Please give me the strength to get through this.
With determination, I put one foot in front of the other, praying each step of the way. Climbing the steps to the stage, I wondered if I would make it. Each step became a step of faith trusting that God would get me through.
Arriving behind the podium, I opened my mouth to speak, but my first few words seemed to echo from a distance as if spoken by someone else. God give me strength. As I continued to speak I suddenly had the sensation of having a presence on each side of me— supporting me—holding me up. In that moment I felt stronger than I have ever felt in my life. Each word thereafter was spoken with clarity and a message was shared which conveyed the gift of her life and the hope we all have in Christ.
God answered my prayer. He had given me strength—an inner strength far greater than anything I could ever imagine—a strength incapable of failure. How much more could I accomplish in my life if I always had that strength of the Lord within me? I discovered that day what the Psalm sung over the ages has declared:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in him, and I am helped (Psalm 28:7-NIV).”
As the years have passed since my sister’s death, it is those morning phone calls that I have come to miss the most. When I look back on the day of her funeral I am reminded that at my weakest moment God gave me strength.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.