Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Charley's Insight

A little over two years ago, just before Thanksgiving, an ear infection suddenly turned into a life threatening episode with meningitis for Charley.  It still amazes me how quickly we found ourselves transported from the comfort of our living room to the sterile environment of the Critical Care unit.  As I hovered nearby, watching Charley wake up to awareness of who we were and slowly accept what had happened to him, I could not help but wonder what might have been ....  We have always been a family that understood the importance of hugging someone and telling them that you love them, just in case ... this took on an even greater significance after Charley's near brush with eternity.

When Charley was transferred out of Critical Care and into a regular room to fully recover from his ordeal the first thing he wanted was a Bible.  I could not put my finger on it, at the time, but I did notice that there was a greater sense of urgency and need behind his wanting to read the scriptures.  I admit that I was a little baffled to see him break down and weep when he got to John 3:16 ... such a familiar verse in our lives and yet this time it was read with great emotion.  After he had fully recovered and returned to work again, he eventually told me that he had seen some things while he was hovering between our world and the eternal ... mostly peaceful things, but some, which he would not go into detail, were unsettling.  He mentioned, briefly, seeing the faces of demons ... and other things ... which only confirmed how near death he had been.

Charley's awareness of what could have been ... then ... helped him to face what was happening earlier this year, when he realized that the surgery to remove the tumor from his spine was not as successful as we had hoped.  He had already been given a glimpse of the eternal, so he could face it with peace ... he knew what to expect and he knew where he was going.  After seeing everyone near and dear to him, and expressing his love for them that weekend, he suddenly blurted out, "Well, I think it's time to go."

If I ever had even the tiniest doubt about eternity, they were all quickly dispelled in those moments of watching him peacefully prepare to meet his Maker.  To this day I still wonder over what he saw, as he reached for the ceiling ... and though I could not make out what he was saying, there was no doubt that it was something marvelous to behold, as he spoke nonstop towards the end, with great excitement in his voice.

This insight into eternity was something that Charley wanted everyone he loved and knew to share.  Charley prayed every single day for the salvation of every single person he encountered in life.  I can still hear his voice echoing in my mind as he prayed for all of his nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and friends ... and he always ended his prayers thanking God for the gift of salvation and the love of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, I hope that you, dear reader, have received this gift of salvation ... for indeed, God ... so loved ... the world ... that He gave ... His Son ... so that you, too ... might face death and eternity with peace.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Share the Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-7~

This passage has become a familiar activity throughout the many trials in my life, taking comfort and sharing in comfort.  Such a simple word ... comfort ... but so full of depth and meaning ... for in receiving comfort I take into my life, my soul, if you will ... love ... hope ... peace ... and then I have the privilege of sharing in comforting others.

Yet He knows the way I have taken; 
when He has tested me, 
I will emerge as pure gold. ~Job 23:10~