The Unwanted Gift
Only one year ago, my world as I had known it for almost forty-nine years took a sudden and dramatic turn. Only hours earlier, Jeannie had looked up at me from her pillow and whispered the last six words she would speak in this life, “Love you! Love you! Love you! I had gathered her in my arms and said, “Jeannie! Run to Jesus!” Now, she had done just that!
God gave me grace to describe Jeannie’s departure as follows in The Unwanted Gift, (to be released by CLC Publications, October 10, all rights reserved):
Just as we had done so many times before in our forty-eight years and eleven months of marriage, Jeannie and I were lying together, side-by-side, holding hands, alone in our darkened bedroom. Jeannie’s labored breathing had now become settled and quiet.
I began quoting Scripture, a practice that we’d especially leaned upon during these past few months when full hearts and restless thoughts made falling to sleep difficult for us both. But this time, I was speaking the words alone, first from a familiar Psalm, then from Ephesians, and finally the comforting words of Christ spoken just hours before His own death.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”
At those last words the presence of the Divine Bridegroom filled the room.
Leaning near, He whispered, “It’s time! Now, come away my love!”
Jeannie took one slow, final breath of earth’s stale air, released my hand, and raced into the arms of her Savior. Marveling at the Light and fresh Presence now filling her heart, she entered this, her new home!
Moments later, I stood alone beside our bed, now occupied only by Jeannie’s beautiful but vacated earthly temple, and said a tearful farewell to the love of my life, rejoicing that she was now in the arms of the One Who loved her most.
With these past twelve months now history, I can only marvel at the goodness and grace of God. Not one single time has He failed me when I have cried out for His sustaining grace. And He has tenderly shepherded me so that I would not “grieve as others who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13). To be honest, God has given me an eager anticipation for His return to a degree I only preached about in the past. Within Jeannie’s unwanted passing there has been a gift of inestimable value…for us both!
Our life together, Jeannie’s and mine, was one glorious Gospel adventure. But even though my course is now set forward, I felt this anniversary was worthy of remembering, reflecting, and rejoicing in the following reality: Soon…”the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16-17).
Believe it…beloved! And, as Paul urges, “comfort one another with these words.”
Yes! Rejoice evermore!
2 Tim 1:12