It is not my scheduled day to post, yet I am compelled by a heavy heart and heart of joy to celebrate a special life with a special blog. If you've read my posts for very long, you've met this amazing woman. She is the inspiring friend with cancer who defied the why of suffering with the goal of glorifying God in the how of walking through it with Him (see http://shaunawallace.blogspot.com/2012/01/maybe-shoe-is-hand.html). She is the mother who grieved with hope when her daughter, Katy, unexpectedly died in a car wreck, and in her mourning, her heart's desire was to see lost souls come to know Christ because of Katy's life and death (see http://shaunawallace.blogspot.com/2012/02/untimely-death-timeless-hope.html and http://shaunawallace.blogspot.com/2012/02/unspeakable-sorrow-unspeakable-joy.html).
She is home now. She ran her race well all the way to the finish line. Heaven. She kept the faith, eyes fixed on Jesus the entire time. To the very end. She did not receive her healing in the flesh here on Earth. No, she got something so much better!
Her family grieves, for sure, yet there is peace. Hope. They know where Sherri is. They know they will see her again. And the faith she firmly embraced now lives on in her husband and children who know God is good no matter the circumstances.
There is no end to the ways this family's joy in suffering has blessed and encouraged me. I stand in awe of God's power to comfort and sustain as I witness their love for Him through the most difficult of times. As I kissed her forehead and said "See you later" just days before she passed, the presence of the Lord and His joy filled their home. Sitting peacefully on the other side of the bed answering a continuous flow of posts on FaceBook, her husband, Van, smiled and praised His faithful God while watching his wife's body slowly shut down. It is impossible to capture in human words the supernatural wonder of what I saw that day. What I can articulate is the boost to my faith. The comfort and courage that God CAN carry us through ANYTHING. The resolve to let faith defeat fear. Gratitude that even when we do grieve – and being humans living on an earth where death is certain, we will – we do so with hope when we Jesus is our savior.
Sherri is with Katy. Van will be with her again. My grandfather is with my mother. I will be with them again. For those of us who by grace through faith have been saved, there will be a day when we see Jesus face to face, along with all those who have gone before us. What a glorious day that will be...day one of the rest of eternity!
Faced with death, again, I am compelled to ask, again, do you have that hope? Have you faced the death of a loved one without hope? Hope can be yours today! Eternal assurance. Comfort. Peace. As God gives you grace, respond in faith. Faith in His son. Believe in your heart Jesus is Lord, and confess with your mouth.
“’The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved’” (Romans 10:8-13).
Thus says the word of the Lord.
If you haven’t called on the name of the Lord, you can do it now. And when believers in Jesus prepare to leave this life for eternity, it's no longer "Good-bye." As my Aunt Janice says, it's "See you later."
Sherri, I know you’re no longer here, but the testimony you lived remains in my memories and in my heart where I will cherish your friendship always. Your unwavering faith. Your endless joy. Your warm, infectious smile. I'll see you later!
Van, what a beautiful picture of Christ loving the church as you served and sacrificed for Sherri. As you trusted our Father in heaven with knowing Sherri’s every breath. As you determined, along with your children, to continue to praise our amazing God, no matter what. Your faith spurs me on to greater faith!
Lord, strengthen and renew Van in the days to come. Fill the void Sherri and Katy left with the fullness of Your presence. For all who are grieving the loss of a loved one, whether recent or not, comfort them and give them peace. Only You can.