The Final Step
For the past eleven months, my mother-in-law Nancy has been in hospice care. It’s the result of a battle with Alzheimers that she’s been fighting for many years now. Having gone through hospice care with my own mom when she was battling cancer, I knew what the eventual outcome would be. No one recovers from hospice care. And this week we have been reminded of that fact, as the nurses have told the family that we are entering the final days of Nancy’s life.
As you can imagine, this has been difficult news to hear. Even though we have all known where we were headed on this journey, the reality of the final chapter is still hard to face. As I’ve been praying through all of this, the Lord has given me several sweet memories of my life with Nancy to hold on to - and that has been a great comfort. But the biggest blessing God has given me in the midst of this hard time is the reminder of Nancy’s simple acceptance of the gospel message, and of God’s love for her.
Born to a working-class family that was led by an alcoholic father, Nancy became a believer at the age of 17. She heard the gospel - believed the gospel - and believed that God loved her. It wasn’t that Nancy was simple-minded or uneducated, it was just that she knew the truth when she heard it. So there wasn’t a lot of theological debate or questioning or searching or seeking. She heard, and she believed. And that simple approach to God and to His love for her carried her through the many ups and downs of life, and it’s what will carry her as she takes the final step into Jesus’ loving arms.
Although Nancy spent her lifetime reading and even teaching the Bible, her walk with God stayed centered on the core of what she first heard and believed. The simplicity of faith that Nancy had has been a huge encouragement to me over the years, as I have wrestled with my own questions and misunderstandings of God. Through her gentle listening to my struggles and questions, she encouraged me to persevere. And in the most challenging times of life, her patient and joyful faith pointed me to God. And perhaps most importantly, Nancy accepted me - and everyone she met - the same way that God accepted her: freely and lovingly. In all those ways, and so many more, the simplicity of her faith and love for God has been a huge blessing to me, and to our family.
It’s hard to fully measure the impact Nancy has had on my life, and I’m sure I will be seeing new ways she has impacted me until I reach my final days on this earth. So even though this is a hard situation to walk through, I’m thankful for the opportunity God has given me to stop the busyness of life, and to be intentional about thinking back over how she has helped shape and mold me, my wife, and our family for generations to come. At the same time, I’m thankful for the encouragement her life gives me to do what she did: to hear and believe, and then pour into others what has so generously been poured into me.
And what is true for me is true for all of us. We’ve all had people who have helped shape and mold us through their love and generosity. We’ve all had people who have lived their lives in a way that has encouraged us to follow God more closely. So today, let’s take time to remember them, and to thank God for them. And then let’s be that same type of influence in the lives of the people God has put in our lives.