I was blessed and thankful to be a part of this process. One of the verses I selected was Revelations 21 because verse four has been a powerful reminder to me since accepting Jesus years after my sister's kidnapping.
As if being a part of the planning process wasn't a blessing enough, my in-laws asked if I would read the verses from Revelation during the funeral. Of course I accepted and looked forward to sharing the hope with those in attendance. BUT things did not go as planned.
As I look back, I am dumbfounded. She awaited the book's release as do my parents yet her desire was to see it in print before she passed. As I laid on the couch with strep and my husband spent every free moment in the hospital I put the finishing touches on Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey and ordered the proof copies.
They arrived the day after she passed away. She didn't get to see and hold my first book. In honor of her, I signed the second copy and placed it in her casket with her. I pray she smiled in heaven knowing the impact of her love and mothering on my life.
This is what I thought but God had other plans. My heart grieved the loss of my mother-in-law and rejoiced to know I will see her again one day in heaven. Tears trickled down my cheeks as the initial songs and words shared by my sister-in-law Pam yet I didn't feel overcome with sadness until my foot climbed the first stair to the alter to read from the Book of Revelation.
With each step the weight on my heart became heavier and the magnitude of moments not-to-be-shared with Norine in the future hit me. I stood, looked out into the congregation as my knees weakened and streams of hot tears overtook me. Unable to get the words out, Ed's cousin Christine, who read the first readings, returned to the alter.
She wrapped one arm around me and waited with me. "Do you want to read or do you want me to? Let me know." I attempted to start again but nothing but tears, pain, and grief suffocated my voice. Without a thought, Christine read for me the verses I love so much from Revelation and together, I managed to help with the reading from Psalm 23.
I thank her again for "saving" me earlier at the church as tears returned to my face. As if God was speaking through her, she responded, "Lisa, I didn't save you. You were already saved. I just helped God for a few minutes." And yes, the tears fell even quicker.
The past few weeks I have done my best to care for everyone, especially my husband and brother and sister-in-laws as they watched their precious mother fade from a strong and independent woman to one struggling for her last breath. I held my daughter as she grieved her Grandma's fast approaching death. The one thing I didn't do, was grieve myself.
Until I stood at the foot of the cross this morning to read God's Word and reminder to each of us, especially verse four: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
The irony this morning, the knowledge and reminder about the lack of grief in heaven made my tears fall hotter and faster. Then God used Christine to remind me He was there to wipe the tears because it is through Him I am saved.
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them. They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “
I am making everything new!” Then he said,
“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty
I will give water without cost
from the spring of the water of life.
Those who are victorious will inherit all this,
and I will be their God and they will be my children.