Monday, March 20, 2017

Goodbye sweet friend...

Rows and rows of greeting cards line the drugstore shelves. I peruse them laughing at silly ones and cringing at racy ones. Some are beautiful with heartfelt sentiments while others are too graphic for my taste. Greeting card artists choose different ways to present our feelings on paper. As I look over the cards, I'm overwhelmed. There are so many from which to choose. How do I pick a card to convey my deepest sorrow over the loss of a dear friend? I leaf through several cards and read the wording. None of them seem appropriate. None of them come close to explaining heartbreak. None of these will really reach out and touch the recipient in the way I intend. I forego a purchase and opt for a handwritten note. I can express my feelings more clearly than an anonymous greeting card writer. I leave the store and head home.

In the past few weeks, I've attended funerals, visited dear friends in hospitals, and focused on the brevity of life. No one knows the number of days we're allotted on Earth. One minute we're here and the next we're not. I'm reminded of a verse found in the Bible, James 4:14: "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Poof...gone. A wisp of life dissolved.

And that's the way it was with my sweet friend. Her life was too, too brief. We buried her on Saturday. What a wonderful woman. She was kind, caring, loving, and had a heart of pure gold. She found joy in serving others. She was someone who loved others well. One minute she was here, the next she was gone. No one expected it. It was such a shock, especially to those close to her. And no one can ever take her place.

The sadness at her sudden death continues to rock us with confusion and shock. But God knew best. He was ready for her to come home. He'd just slipped the last shingle onto the roof of her mansion. Everything was ready for her great move in day! The angels gathered together preparing her welcome home party with glorious choruses of hallelujahs. As she slipped out of this Earthly realm into the heavenlies, what a sight to behold! Her Heavenly Father, waiting at the gate, reaching out His Almighty, Loving hand toward her as He softly and gently whispered, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." I can just picture her kneeling before Him as He placed a beautiful golden crown of good works upon her head. Then slowly she rises and slips the crown off, laying it at His feet. He reaches for her and she moves closer until finally in His tender embrace. Once again He speaks, "Welcome home sweet daughter, welcome home." As He guides her toward her new home, she never turns to look back. She has no desire to do so. The life she lived on Earth has vanished and has been forgotten. And why wouldn't it be? Psalm 39:5 says, "Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah. (Pause and calmly think of that.)"

A few lines on paper can't express the deep, painful sadness over the loss of a beloved friend. But sometimes the gentle squeeze of a hand, tears mingled, or a loving heartfelt hug can speak louder than any words and that's exactly as it should be. Words aren't always appropriate or powerful enough to cover the depth of pain.

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