Thursday, March 08, 2012

Into the Sunset

A long vigil has ended and the sun has set over the life of a much loved mother and grandmother, Gill.  I spent time with her family around her bed at the local hospice last night, not long before she died. It was impressive to see their devotion to her and their care for one another in their grief.  Their ordeal had gone on over several nights and was preceded by weeks of pain for Gill and increasing awareness that the end was coming. The call that came in the night summonsed me away from my bed and into one of those pastoral situations that are so deeply challenging, especially when the one in the bed is younger than the Pastor!  I think that perhaps the long exposure to serious ill health that I have known has in some ways prepared me to be of more use than some might be in the same circumstances.  I certainly hope so.

One thing has changed this sunset for me, and I know it did for Gill.  Some weeks ago she sent a message to me via her doctor asking me to visit her in her hospice room.  She knew her time was coming and she wanted to get right with God. 'I want to be ready', she said, fixing my gaze with her steady, determined eyes.  She did not need religious ritual or fancy prayers, and I didn't give her any.  She needed Jesus in her trial, and when we bowed to pray she handed her life over to Him, asking for His forgiveness and inviting Him in.  Through our tears it was clear that she understood what she was doing.  She was ready then, because Jesus said 'whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life' (John 5:24).

So, goodnight Gill.  See you in the morning.