Faithful To The End

Everyone in our small town knew her. She was an icon of hard work and deep involvement in all that was good in our community. She labored endless hours in our church. She was always teaching, cooking, visiting, singing, and involving herself and her talents in all that we did. Her hard work and leadership had marked our community. Our Senior Citizens Center owed its existence to her hard work and tireless effort. She made it happen. When others believed it impossible, too hard, too difficult, she made it happen. We all knew her, admired her, and wished that we had more like her in our town.

We all watched with terror and tears as ALS, (Lou Gehrig disease) stole her mobility and involvement from us. We stood on the side of that hard wind and watched as it blew her proud walk and fast gate to a slow stumbling movement. Then the stumble required a cane and soon a walker, and in time a wheel chair. We stood in that cold wind of ALS and watched as the wheel chair gave way to the bed and she was no longer seen in the life of our town.

Somewhere in that time she wrote me a letter, it went something like this. “What I hate most about this ALS is that it has stopped my service to the Lord. Everything I did, I sought to do as “Unto, Him”. Now I am locked in this frame that will not work and cannot even attend the worship service. I hate this disease for it has robbed me of my service to the King.”

I went to see her the day after I read that letter. We talked of so many things. We spoke of budget battles with our Senior Citizens Center, and how difficult it was to get the ‘Meals on Wheels’ working. We talked of church and sermons; of Sunday school lessons and VBS sessions she had taught. Then I explained that I had come to remind her that she was still a great servant of the Lord. I told her that while she was locked in that body which would not work; her mind was still good and I needed her prayers and it would be a joy for me to know that each time I stood before our people that she would be at home lifting me in prayer before our Heavenly Father.

I saw a new joy come over her as the sparkle of her eyes rediscovered how valuable her time that was left would be to me. She held my hand and promised that I would never get in the pulpit that she would not be praying for the congregation and me.

On one of my twice-weekly visits she told me in a broken voice that before long she would be unable to talk. The doctor had told her to expect it at most any moment but that her mind would not stop working and she would understand what was going on around her and would be aware in her heart of those who were helping her and caring for her needs. She looked me firmly in the eye and said, “Pastor, when this voice will not speak I want you to look deeply into my eyes and know that I am praying for you. As long as I have a thought I want you to know that your name will be lifted before our Lord. Look in my eyes pastor. You will be able to see that I know you are here and that I am keeping my promise.”

That dark destroying wind took her voice but as I stood over her bed I could see in her eyes that she knew I was there and that she was praying for me. As I would stand after kneeling beside her bed and praying for her I would look into her eyes and there in that bound body she was thanking me for coming by and she was praying for me.

The final storm surge came and she left that rigid body of no movement to a glorious body of eternal life. As I stood before our town and we shared in her life, most of them felt that she had stopped being, long before that day. When she was no longer seen and then when she could not even speak with those who dropped by, most felt that she had stopped. But I knew I knew that Mary Lou was faithful to the end. I had looked into her eyes and I knew; I truly knew that she had been faithful to the end.

Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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