September 20, 2010

For Elaine

In this land of dangers going here and there
Trusting in the blessed Savior's love;
Tho’ we may be strangers, in this world of care,
Looking for a city built above.

We’re looking for a city, where we’ll never die,
There the sainted millions, never say good-bye,
There we’ll meet our Savior, and our loved ones too,
Come O Holy Spirit, all our hopes renew.

~Looking for a City

This precious, old hymn is a favorite of my husband's family.  It seems we sing it every time a loved one goes home to Jesus.  It's not new, it's not contemporary, but like my MawMaw use to say... if it's new, it's not the Truth, cause the Truth ain't new. 

This blog post is about Barbara, my mother in law's baby sister and her husband, Bill.  Barbara will always have a special place in my heart because she played the music at our outdoor wedding, and because she and Bill were truly lovely people.

When I was in my early 20's, we went to visit Aunt Barbara in the hospital.  She was in the final stages of her battle with cancer and barely 40 years old. To most people I am sure that they would say that cancer won the fight, but it did not win the war.

I remember going in to the hospital room and seeing her husband crouched over his Bible, he barely acknowledged us as we entered the room, he was in deep battle. He was reading scripture out loud, I will never forget his voice, the look of determination on his face or what he was reading ... "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  It bring tears to my eyes every time I think of that day. I had never seen that before, someone fighting a spiritual battle over a physical disease. I watched the two of them.....saints fighting an invisible, ferocious enemy, but they were not alone, and they both knew it, and they weren't afraid. Perhaps sad at the thought of being separated, but not afraid because they knew what awaited them, a city built above where we never say good-bye.

If I remember right, Bill eventually had to be hospitalized because he was a diabetic and had refused to eat,  but continually fasted and prayed.  His physical needs were not being met and his earthy body needed rest and food to continue, but he refused to stop. I wish I could adequately describe him to you, he was a big, mountain of a man, but with the face of a little boy who might even be up to a little mischief.  His countenance was kindness and grace and he always had a big, huge smile on his face. He was a gentle giant. At least, that's how I remember him. But on this day, he was a mighty warrior, a knight in shining armor boldly standing before the throne of Grace interceding for his lovely bride before our Holy and Merciful God. 

This was all new to me, I had certainly never seen that kind of suffering first hand, and I had never seen such faith.  These precious souls weren't weeping and wailing and blaming God.  They were worshiping a Risen Savior.  I was in total awe.  It's been more than 20 years since this happened and I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I sit here now with eyes closed vividly recalling that day.  I was in this hospital room watching this story of life and death unfold.  I remember feeling like I didn't belong there, what was happening around me was too intimate, too tender, too private, too holy, and I was not worthy to witness such grace. I was very new in my relationship with God, but I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this was God fearing, Bible believing, mountain moving faith.  And I wanted some of it.  I was truly awe stuck at what I was seeing.  These dear ones were true Christians, the kind I hope to one day be.

Not long after that visit, God gently lead Barbara home.  Years later, Bill joined his beautiful bride in paradise.  The legacy of their love for their family and our God lives on through their children and grandchildren, and anyone that was fortunate enough to know them.  I am grateful to have known them, to call them family on earth and in heaven.  I am blessed to have married into such a precious Godly family, I only hope that some day, I measure up.

julie sig