A brave mom reached out to hold her son’s hand one last time as he passed from this earth into the arms of Jesus, courageously thanking Him for what she’d been given – 13 beautiful years with her son and the assurance that he loved Jesus and was safely at home in heaven with Him!
A devoted husband watched as his wife gave their young daughter one last kiss, said her deeply emotional goodbyes and drifted into a sleep she would not wake up from on this earth, courageously thanking the Lord for what she’d been given – the ability to make Him proud with the time He gave her – and her dream come true of waking up in heaven with her Savior!
These dear ones are perfect strangers to me and yet their stories of bold faith in the face of heartbreaking grief gripped me to the core. Tears flowed freely as my mind flashed through pictures of the countless times my own kids have slipped their hands into mine, the times my husband has held me close, the gift we have received every time our eyes could meet and we could experience a thought, a moment, a question, a realization, or a slice of life… together.
I can’t help asking myself the hard questions… do I realize what I’ve been given? What have I done with the time I’ve been given with those I love so dearly? The thought of losing any one of them rocks me to my core. It is clear that they are treasures to me! I absolutely thank the Lord for the priceless gift of each of them.
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What does the Lord call me to do with those gifts? This pit in my stomach tells me that I am holding on too tightly – more tightly to these gifts than to the Giver? As I pray for deeper understanding, I hear a familiar question cross my mind… what would JESUS do?
This prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17 gives me a really good list to follow:
“Jesus looked up to heaven and said: Father, the hour has come.
Glorify Your Son so that I may glorify You, for You gave Me authority over all flesh; so I may give eternal life to all You have given Me. This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ.
I have glorified You on the earth – I have finished the work You gave Me to do. …
I have revealed Your Name to those You gave Me … They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, because the words that You gave Me, I have given to them. They have believed that You sent Me.
I pray for them. … Holy Father, protect them by Your Name … Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.”
In all that I do as a wife or a mother, these are important goals to remember:
– Always glorify God, my Father.
– Help my loved ones to know the one true God, to find eternal life in Christ.
– Faithfully do the work God gives me to do – until it is done!
– Always reveal God’s Name – point others to Him, give them His Words.
– Help them to see that all that we have comes from Him, including each of them!
– Pray for them – that God (not me!) will protect them and grow them by His Words of truth!
I also remembered our BSF class studying Revelation 4 a few months ago – a chapter that describes the throne room of heaven. In the midst of that amazing scene, one thing really grabbed my attention. Around God’s throne are 24 elders, each seated on their own throne, dressed in white with gold crowns on their heads.
In heaven, the only things they have or wear have been given to them by the One who sits on the throne – a designated place, a white garment and a gold crown. What God has placed in their hands they offer back to Him. They placed their best treasures from Him at His feet. In this way they honored Him!
They fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and for Your pleasure they exist and were created.” ~ Revelation 4:10-11
Is it really any different for me? The things I hold in my hands or in my heart here on earth have also been placed there by the One on the throne. What does God call me to do with those treasures? What could be better than laying them down at the feet of the One who entrusted them to me in the first place?
By laying my best gifts before God’s throne I honor Him:
– I recognize that the gift is from Him, and I thank Him for it!
– I acknowledge that the gift has its own purpose for Him that is better than any plan I could conceive.
– I return ownership of that gift to Him, the One who can care and protect and defend that treasure far better than I ever will.
– I free myself from the stressful and selfish white-knuckle gripping of that gift, to receive an even greater gift – the JOY of watching Almighty Creator God work in and through that gift… I get the front row seat to see and marvel and just ENJOY that gift, free of any burden or personal expectations.
Just recently, my mom shared this poem with me. She has had it in her stash of “words for encouragement” since we were born. Although it may have taken her some time to locate the exact words among our baby books, she recited the key phrases without hesitation. It is obvious that she repeated them often, likely praying her way through them as a busy mom of three little ones! These words are “oldies but goodies” and I am thankful for the chance to put myself in my own mama’s shoes for a moment and ponder their truth:
A MOTHER’S LIFE WORK
My work at home lies with the olive branches
Thou plantest there;
To train them meekly for the heavenly garden
Needs all my care.
I may not in the woods and on the mountains
Seek Thy lost sheep;
At home a little flock of tender lambkins
‘Tis mine to keep.
Thou givest to Thy servants each his life-work
No trumpet tone
Will tell the nations in triumphant pealing
How mine was done.
But ‘twill be much, if, when the task is ended
Through grace from Thee,
I give Thee back, now saved, the little flock
Thou gavest me.
Almighty Holy God has lavished me with priceless treasures. As He draws me closer and closer to Himself, He is helping me to see that the greatest treasure is God Himself. He is moving my heart to desire more and more of Him and only His best – for myself and for each of the loved ones He has given me. He is the One who draws my heart to loosen my own grasp and offer each of them back to Him.
I pray that He will enable to me to follow the example of the Lord Jesus – to bring glory to His Name, to point loved ones to Him, to faithfully finish the work God has given me to do as a wife and a mother, to pray for my family, entrusting them to His care – and I pray that, like the elders before God’s throne, I will worship and honor the One on the throne by laying each treasure He has placed in my hands and in my heart back at His feet!
If the Lord does not return first, the day will come when I hold a loved one’s hand for the last time, give them one last kiss, hold them tenderly as our Savior calls one of us home. I pray that it will be a moment that is flooded with more thankfulness than regret, inexplicably more joy than sorrow – that I will courageously and genuinely thank the Lord for the beautiful years we have been given – and rest in the assurance that His grace has enabled me to make Him proud with the time that He gave me.
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand. – I Chronicles 29:14
Read more here! – John 17 – Revelation 4 – John 1:3 – Colossians 1:16 – I Samuel 1:27-28