Yesterday, as I was reflecting on a favorite Bible verse while driving through the Berkshires, I thought of this Scripture passage. So often, I have written this verse when friends have lost loved ones to remind them that their loved ones remain near. "We are surrounded . . . "
Upon returning home, I called my friend Cindy who has known me since her "Jesus" pin invited our first conversation forty years ago in the college library. Her father is 93 and has become increasingly frail. Cindy told me that she now speaks often with him of dying; and in doing so, this has allowed her to think more about how thin the veil is between our life here and those who have returned to God. She then told me, "'We are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses to the life of faith' and Mamie is part of your crowd. You have become like her because she is with you."
Oh, how precious a message from my sister in Christ. I have told my children that on the day when God calls me Home, something you think about at almost-60, Mamie will be there. And yet the veil is thin. I see her in the mourning doves that we once watched in her driveway when I was a child, doves that now feed on our back porch. The African violet plant given to welcome me here by a new friend again reminds me of her. Mamie was my father's aunt, my great-aunt. She lived just three doors down and was my safe haven growing up, the one who always had time and an open door. Our Daily Bread was next to her knitting chair; and I would sit next to her in the little country church down the road during summers when the Lutheran Church we attended didn't have Sunday School. Mamie lived a life of simple faith and gentle love.
Yes, I enjoy thinking that I have an unseen cheering section that surrounds and encourages me in my faith. As the years go by and the list of those whom I have loved who have winged their way Heavenward grows longer, I take comfort in thinking they are near. One day, Jesus will extend His Hand of welcome through that thin veil and I will join that crowd of witnesses to the faith. And those whose love and faith helped fashion my life will no longer be hidden from view. --Marilyn Shogren
Prayer for Today: Father God, we give thanks for all those who have gone before us into Your glorious presence, especially those ones who helped to shape our faith. Let the knowledge that they surround us give us the strength and will to continue to run our race with endurance until that day when we meet again. We ask in Jesus' name. AMEN!
Confession for Today: I confess that I will live by faith and not by sight. You have told us in Your word that those faithful ones are surrounding us in great number and so I accept their nearness as encouragement for my own faith. I will not waver as I run the race You have set before me and join in that great cloud when Jesus welcomes me home. I declare this by faith in His name. AMEN!