Sometimes when I’m thinking about my pen pals, I worry that I’ll die and they won’t know it. They will wait and wait and no one will tell them I’m not late, I’m dead!
Well, of course, I do know that death is definitely one thing we can’t control but also one thing we can all expect unless Jesus surprises us and comes back to set everything right. Moreover, today—this morning—this moment is what I have. That’s it. Now.
Sunday was a good day. I had helped with refreshments after church and since this is a new church, I enjoyed meeting some new people. Some friends came to visit and I loved that they, too, stayed for the fellowship. It felt right, not to mention that I got a chance to put in a good word to the congregation about the Christian pen pal ministry.
In the afternoon, there were more blessings – a Zoom call with some friends in the pen pal ministry, and The Chosen’s third episode, season 3 in the evening. That was coming to a close when the phone rang. My friend Mary’s niece was calling and that was a concern – she never called me; she texted.
Mary had been very sick and in the hospital but I had been looking forward to hearing her voice on the phone. Mary died that afternoon, she said. I grieved. I still cry. How I will miss her – my best phone buddy. Just like my sister used to be before she, too, died, Mary supported me, believed in me, made excuses for me. This even though she was a Roman Catholic and I was not. We got through that somehow. We loved each other is the simplest way I can explain it. There is a great big hole in my heart, in my life.
But you know what? I remember how we met, how God has been in our friendship since the first day. I was working again after retirement in a rehab facility where Mary was a patient. I seemed to “hear” – “Meet your new best friend.” That’s as clear a “counsel” as I’ve ever received. When it came time for her to be released, there was a problem; Mary had no where to go. Her only son had died recently and her only relatives were in New York and we were in Tennessee. I felt somehow responsible, but how could I help?
I woke up and prayed, “Well, God, one of us has got to do something.” As I headed to my computer, I remembered a Christian classifieds web site I had heard about several years earlier. I found it and scrolled down when I recognized a home advertising “elder care.” It was in Kentucky, not Tennessee. As I read it, I realized that I had actually been to that house. I called the lady and she and her husband agreed to take in Mary. Only later did I realize that that ad was two years old.
But there is more. Several years later, it was my turn to need some help. I felt that God was calling me to leave Tennessee and go to help my daughter’s family with the care of a new baby. I said “Yes” to God, “Only I don’t know how you’re going to pull this off.” Soon I was talking to Mary and before I could finish my reasons why I couldn’t do this, she said, “I’ll drive out to California with you.”
That was the beginning of my answer. She did drive out with me – an amazing trip. Did I mention that she was a double amputee? That meant I had to move a wheelchair in and out of the car several times a day. Getting ready for the trip, I headed to Walmart looking for some good driving gloves. All I could find was a pair of batting gloves which worked splendidly. I still use them.
So now Mary is gone, but I can’t “grieve as one without hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) I hope to see Mary again and I hope to work a little harder at my friendship with several other women. It’s good. God is good. He prepared me for this new phase of life. He has given me counsel and helped me remember the times in my life when His counsel helped, supported and encouraged me. Here is the passage from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (4:13,14) from the Amplified Bible: