Today, Scott’s chapters were vastly different – befriending children and befriending those grieving and dying. It weighs heavily on my heart as I begin to write and I don’t know what to say. As I was reading, all I could think about was being there when my father-in-law passed away. He was a “snowbird” and lived with us five months out of the year for seven years. He would come south when winter started to kick-in up north. I loved everything about this man. He was funny, kind, loving, honest, generous, and such a good role model. He was happily married to his wife until her death in 2001 and we were there when they celebrated sixty years of marriage, which was a number of years before she died. They loved to be together, to travel, to spend time with family and friends, and to just be. I didn’t get to know her the way I knew him, but I knew she loved her family and they came first. Reading Scott’s words and examples of those near the end of their mortal lives made me think deeply about being there the night Orren passed away.
We had rushed up to the Pacific Northwest, hoping to make it in time to see him. We got there late, dropped off the children, and went to the hospital. I don’t remember much of that night, but I know the next day we took the children to see him one last time. They weren’t sure they wanted to be there, but he was alert and talking and we were surprised. It was like he waited for us so he could say good-bye. We met with hospice later in the day, all of the siblings and spouses who were in town and when we got back to the room, he had removed his oxygen tube and was barely breathing. Our first reaction was to put it back in, which is what happened, but the nurses reassured us that many patients wait until their family members aren’t present to pass away. The medical staff started giving him comfort medications and we used a sponge to give him water. And we started taking turns. As the night came, Dwayne and I volunteered to sit with him. We started out the evening sitting at the end of the bed watching an action packed movie, but, suddenly, the atmosphere in the room changed and we could see over the computer that his breathing was much more labored, shallower, and longer between breaths. We stopped the movie and put on soft Christmas music that was peaceful and reverent. My husband and I waited and watched, then called the family to gather. I think from that moment on the entire night became some of the most sacred moments I’ve ever experienced. We gathered around his bed and told him it was okay, he could go now, we were all taken care of and he and Mary had done a good job. There was such peace in my heart, even during all of the pain and grief at seeing this man pass into the next life. Oh, how he is still missed! While I was feeling peaceful in my heart, there was a lot of pain and anguish in the room and it wasn’t very quiet, but the love could probably have been felt down the hallway.
God is a God who weeps over things gone wrong in his world. He is a tender God who takes no pleasure in sorrow, suffering, or death. Scott Sauls, befriend
I know this about our Father, but the longing to have parents live to see grandchildren children grow up and progress, is tough some days. He and Mary would have loved who our children have become. Scott reminds us that we can have peace and understanding, but it requires years of practice and preparation.
For a Christian, the daily workout is one of mind and heart…equipment consists of a receptive heart; a belief that God is sovereign, wise and good; and a well-worn Bible. Her final piece of equipment is the doubter’s prayer, the weighty prayer that must be “lifted” whenever she is tempted to follow her doubts and fears above what God has promised: Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
Scott quotes J.R.R. Tolkien who said “In the next world, everything sad is going to come untrue.” How uplifting that thought can be if I, during my best moments of trust and faith, believe that it’s true. OA’s message reminds me that, since I cannot discipline myself to always be faithful, I must rely on God, who always is. I can turn to Him in my darkest hours and feel His love and turn my heart to Him for reassurance. I can turn to Him to take myself out of reacting to my circumstances, as the AA message reminds. Things happen in this world – children die, parents die before they “should,” spouses cheat, families go bankrupt and a million other things – but how I feel about those things comes from inside me, not from the thing itself. How I react can actually change the rest of my life. Will I allow these things to drive me from God or to God? There are no answers as to why most things happen and it requires a great deal of faith to be okay with events that are gut wrenching.
The conference talk I studied this morning was called Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion. In it Bonnie L. Oscarson. She shares her testimony and belief in a God of love and support.
…we live in “perilous times.” The conditions of our day should not be a surprise to us. They have been foretold for millennia as a warning and admonition so that we can be prepared. The 8th chapter of Mormon gives a disconcertingly accurate description of the conditions of our day. In this chapter, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by” without being noticed.
So many terrible things to grieve over. However, she goes on to say “I testify that the Lord has blessed us, as women who live in these perilous times, with all of the power, gifts, and strength that are needed in order to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that we may all see our true potential and rise up to become the women of faith and courage our Father in Heaven needs us to be.” Of course, she isn’t talking about just women. These blessings and words are meant for all of us. She is right, it takes faith and courage to live in a world with so much heartbreak and so many reasons to grieve. It takes seeing who God really is to grasp who we really are. We each need to rise up in the strength of God to overcome and withstand the pain and suffering of a world in turmoil. That means, you and me, all of us together.