“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:55
As a pastor, I have been at the bedside of many people who were dying, but last night I witnessed one of the most beautiful transitions from life to eternity that is possible. To respect the privacy of the family, I will not share names, but the wonderful lady who passed away was really special to me for many reasons.
Over four years ago, on my first Sunday as pastor at New Life, I met her at the front of the church. She was with her husband and she was sick with cancer. I prayed with her that day and on most Sundays thereafter. Every week, I could always count on her to be waiting for me after the 9am service, holding a tiny bottle of oil, and a heart full of faith for her healing.
There were seasons where she would rebound with full strength, ready to engage life once again. She was a grandmother and an artist who painted beautiful flowers on porcelain plates that now adorn her modest home. One year, despite the cancer, she helped paint the stage set for our Easter production. She also loved to sing, especially at church with her family and friends around her. Then, the cancer returned, this time attacking her lungs and throat, robbing her of the singing voice we all loved.
A week ago, I was at her home and she was writing personal notes in a huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards for a myriad of family and long time friends. She spoke of her kids and grandkids, her frail voice still strong with hope and encouragement.
At the hospital, on her final night with us, her children and husband gathered with a few of us friends around her bed and we sang “Amazing Grace”. Her breathing relaxed and within minutes a transcendent peace filled the room. Her family wept, but they were also very aware of their mother’s victory. She was no longer suffering and most assuredly, she was now singing the joyful songs of heaven. It was a beautiful transition for a dear saint of a woman, one that I will never forget.