JOIN US for FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY. This one was linked to Gypsy Mama but now they are at a different location.
We write for five minutes. (My topic this week continued a little longer…but I showed you where the five minutes ended.) In order to get it all to blend, I edited a bit more than normal, so this is more like a Five Minute Friday mutt.
We live in a broken world…full of broken people. We are broken people ourselves…and it affects all of life. This especially shows in relationships. It also shows in the fact that everything in our world naturally decays and dies. It takes work to bring about rejuvenation and life!
Recently, a friend of mine from high school and early college passed away…after about a year of fighting cancer. In order for you to understand the setting, let me tell you a story.
I went to a Christian boarding school in (Asheville) North Carolina for most of high school, it was attended by a large percentage of missionary kids. Other “normal” kids attended too, but this will give you some context. We were from all over…not only the U.S. , but the world! When we graduated, we scattered too. Some of us saw each other during our college years, but for the most part, the 26 of us who graduated in 1963 scattered all over the world. STOP
Bear with me while I finish my story. I knew Sam from the time we were in 10th grade. I think he was the tallest guy in our class. (Irrelevant I know, but somewhat interesting:)
Actually, our families had earlier associations that didn’t really include us directly. My parents were missionaries with the mission board his dad directed. At the time, they lived in New Jersey and we were in Bolivia…for 3 years. Then, my mother’s health gave out and we returned to the U.S.
A lot of us went from our high school (Ben Lippen School) to Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University), at least for a few years before heading out to other training/liberal arts education.
Because of the distance, our class rarely got together. Well, maybe it was because no one really organized it. I think we had about 3 or 4 reunions over the years (after the college years). We had a 20th, a 35th (one year late) and one or two other major reunions. The last was our “35th” (1999).
In a class of 26, we knew each other fairly well by graduation…as well as our rigid rules and legalistic environment allowed. (I don’t mean that to sound critical, I’m trying to set the stage for our environment. It was what it was. For many of us, it helped develop our sense of humor.)
The end result was that our feelings toward each other, though certainly from a distance, was like that of sisters and brothers…for the most part. We shared an experience called Ben Lippen during those specific years and survived with our faith and humor intact. When we hear of classmates who pass away, it is a larger loss than that of some recent friend…even though we haven’t seen each other for years.
Sam and his wife Nan have worked with Campus Crusade for most of their marriage–43 yrs. They served in the northeast for the most part…until they started working with Christian Embassy in Washington, DC over 30 yrs. ago. Whether Washington has been Democrat, Republican, mixed or whatever, they have ministered to any who were receptive to their ministry.
Nan has worked with other women to welcome new congressional wives to the DC area. Sam worked with men in leadership in our country. He also worked in administration for Christian Embassy as well. Between their newsletters and the occasional reunion, we saw each other every so often. We have kept up sporatically since our years in Jamaica…a very long time ago!
Sam and Nan had three children, now grown. They were in great health. They were very active and energetic in their ministry in DC. From what I understand, his was one of loving others practically, knowing how to fix things, walking the halls of congress, being with many he knew over the years, praying with them, leading Bible studies, and performing many administrative duties at the Christian Embassy. Their home was open and hospitable to all…sometimes for overnights…sometimes for meals. Whatever it took, that is what they did!
Shortly before Sam’s 65th birthday last summer, his mild indigestion symptoms were checked out. After a number of tests, eventually some biopsies, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that was already in his liver. Their world turned upside down!
Thanks to CaringBridge, many of us followed their journey…unsuccessful chemo, special diets, some good months but eventually, it became obvious that apart from an incredible miracle, Sam’s broken body was not going be here on earth for much longer. Despite all our prayers for healing for Sam, God’s answer was going to be that He would be healed…in heaven…away from all his loved ones. The answer none of them had wished for.
SAM IS NOW WHOLE
On the evening of July 2, Sam went to be with Jesus. Because Christ was broken for us on the cross, Sam, and many others he ministered to during his lifetime, are now whole. Of course, his family is left behind. That’s the nature of life in this fallen world. Sadly, our marriages soon come to an end. Our broken bodies can no longer continue here on earth. And those who are left behind, grieve.
Yes, they will see him again…if they are believers in the work Christ did for them…but that empty aching of loss in the middle of the night, at those times when his word of wisdom or only his hug is enough…well, you understand. They are going through a broken time now. Yes, they have comfort from Christ, but they grieve too.
Nothing is ever complete, perfect, or whole here on earth. But what is our future as believers? Wholeness…with Christ!
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)
Won’t this be delightful?