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Startled By Grace?

Today has been an emotionally draining day.  Today I visited with my mom and dad and continue to see the signs of aging multiply before my eyes.  My mother has been having health problems off and on all her life and during these last few years they have been more on than off.  Last winter she entered the hospital with a life threatening condition.  Thankfully the Lord healed her through the ministrations of her doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.  I am also truly grateful for the care my mom has received this time around.  Recently I found out that my mom has had little appetite since her hospital visit last winter and now she has no appetite and it shows.  She has lost around 44 pounds in 7 months. So this afternoon we made our way over to the shore where my folks live and we visited with my mom in the hospital (along with my dad).  My mom could not talk much as her voice is almost non existent.  But as I looked at her eyes they looked back at me with so much love that it startled me, nay, scared me even.  I was uncomfortable and did not quite understand why.  As it turns out today my mom was moved to a rehab center where she can get the care she really needs. While my mom was being moved to the rehab center my dad and wife and daughter and I went home and had a fine dinner together.  My dad is really learning to do things for himself that he has not done in ages.  As it turns out, when the hospital transferred my mom to the rehabilitation center they left her glasses, hearing aids and Bible behind.  So we decided that my daughter would go with my dad to pick these items up and then meet us at the rehab center before we made our way back to the Philadelphia area. When my wife and I entered the room my mom looked as comfortable and as content as I had seen her in a long time.  But there was that loving look in my mom's eyes again and I was afraid.  I soon discovered I had reason to be startled.  My mom took the opportunity of being alone with my wife and me to talk seriously about her condition.  While she did not profess to know what the Lord's will was about her in terms of recovery, she told us that she was ready to go home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  With these words, and a clarity of mind and expression, I felt like I was transported back to March of 1990 when I saw my grandmother alive for the last time.  On that occasion I had the privilege of introducing my fiance to my grandmother.  My "Grammie" was not at all clear headed during that conversation until I asked her what she was looking forward to in heaven.  When I asked that seemingly simple question it was if the clouds and fog lifted in my grandmother's consciousness, if only for a moment.  She forthrightly told me she looked forward to meeting her Savior, seeing her son who died in infancy, and meeting her husband.  As it turned out, she passed away two weeks later. Back to today.  I felt as if I was reliving that experience with my grandmother from 1990.  However that would only be partially true.  What startled me, what I think I saw in my mom's eyes, was her love of her Lord, her love for her heavenly homeland and for her family.  I guess what I saw was dying grace exhibited before my eyes.  What's more.  I received a mother's blessing today that I will take with me all the way from here to glory.  My mom witnessed to her love of Christ.  She witnessed to her love of God's Word.  She was thankful for her salvation and for being allowed to serve her Lord.  She said she was proud of me and my sisters and she reminded us of her love of her husband, my dad.  My mom was especially concerned with how my dad would handle her home going should the Lord in his wisdom take her. Through tear filled eyes (truthfully, sobbing eyes) I told my mom I loved her dearly and that my wife and I had thought that she did not look good and that while we were not prophets we wondered whether her time was nye.   I thanked my mom for giving me biological life and for finding me a wife (that is an interesting story for another day), but most importantly for introducing me to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Today I was startled by grace.  I was startled by dying grace.  At least that is what I think it was.  Only the Lord knows whether my mom will go to be with him soon to await the grand and glorious resurrection morning when we will be reunited or whether she will recover and live another number of years.  I will say this.  My other has not given up on life.  No.  It appears to me that she is heaven bound.  When I told her I loved her I told her that I did not want to hold her back.  I want her around for many more years.  But if the Lord wills to take her home to be with him that is his prerogative. I was reminded of the blessings we read about in God's Word.  We see one in Genesis 49 where Jacob blesses his family.  There we find not only a family gathering around a soon departing Old Testament saint, but revelation is conveyed.  Nothing of that sort occurred today between my mom and my wife and me.  But perhaps now I have a better understanding of the importance of the parental blessings that are found in the pages of God's Word. I am also keenly aware of how disruptive sin and death are in God's world.  Death was not a part of God's good creation and it is an intruder (Romans 5:12-19).  Illness is an intruder too.  What makes all these kinds of experiences bearable is that I know that my Lord Jesus Christ has borne my sins in his own body on the tree and has been raised from the dead and so death, which is the last enemy, has already been conquered.  Whether my mom goes to be with the Lord in a matter of days or months or years, the fact of the matter is that she will die.  As will I.  And you too.  But if we have trusted in Christ and in the merits of his holy life and sacrificial death, then we will pass through death to eternal life.  If Christ has not been raised, then we are still in our sins and are to be the most pitied.  But Christ has indeed been raised and we have an eternity to look forward to in the new heavens and the new earth (1st Cor. 15). So I was startled by grace today.  As I have typed this I have discovered that I am not only startled by dying grace, but I am freshly amazed at the wondrous saving grace of my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In life and in death (and in every stage in between) this fact is my only comfort!

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