Posts Tagged ‘witness’

Joanie was scheduled for surgery.  “I’m getting my affairs in order,” she told me.

Joanie had come into my life as an older, wiser friend not long after my mom died.  She became my mentor.  A reminder that God’s Word is all that matters.  A reminder that Jesus is that Word for my life.

“My surgery is to repair an aneurysm,” Joanie explained.  “It’s a routine procedure.  But, whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

A few days before the surgery, Joanie’s two daughters flew in to be with her.  Joanie called to tell me she had a grand idea.  “We’re going to have a joyful night on the town.”  Later, I learned that night was special indeed.  Over a leisurely dinner, Joanie and her daughters shared many memories.  They laughed, then cried, then laughed some more as they lingered over a single glass of white Zinfandel.  Later, they returned home to curl up in the living room where they continued their story-telling late into the night.  Somehow, I had no difficulty hearing Joanie tell her daughters, “I gotta tell you girls.  Whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

When Joanie’s son called to say he would drive down to be with her, she assured him there was no need.  “You stay with your family right now.  I’ll see you soon.”  Then she penned him a loving letter with words that can only flow from a mother’s heart.  The note ended, “Whatever the Lord’s got going here is fine with me.”

On the morning of the surgery, Joanie woke early.  She slipped out the back door to say good-bye to her two dogs, the faithful companions who greeted her this morning as they did every morning.  Coming back inside, she slowly walked through the rooms of the house, touching her lips and planting a “kiss” on the photo faces of her husband, children, and grandchildren.  She sighed, then picked up the bag she had carefully packed the night before.  With one quick glance over her shoulder back at the house, she walked to the car.  No one but her Father heard her say, “Whatever you’ve got going here, Lord, is fine with me.”

The surgery did not go as expected.  There were too many complications.  My friend’s body grew weak and could no longer fight the battle of life over death.  In the distance, she could hear the great choir of heavenly angels praising God.  “Whatever you’ve got going here, Lord, is fine with me.”  Then, a brief hesitation.  Did Joanie hear one of her daughters say, “We must let her go.”  Did she hear the other cry, “No!”  Joanie waited as if she were giving her daughter time to adjust her thinking and receive the same peace that was now flowing through the mother.  It was not easy, but both daughters agreed, “Mom is ready.”  And they entrusted her to God.

Days later, Joanie’s daughters opened the bag which their mom had packed for her hospital stay.  In it were all the things that a woman would take for recovery from surgery — a few toiletries, nightgown, photo or two of her family, books for passing the time, and well-worn Bible.  Looking through the items in the bag, they paused to remember the behavior of their mom the morning she left home for the hospital.  They heard her sigh and saw her lingering glance at the house.  They knew she had written a “good-bye” letter of encouragement to her son.  But, at the same time, here was a bag filled with the items one would need for life.

Joanie truly believed, “Whatever you’ve got going, Lord, is fine with me.”  She lived each day ready to do those things God had already prepared for her to do, yet she kept her eyes focused on the Savior who would one day carry her home.  In the time that I had know her, Joanie spoke with excitement about her eternal home with Jesus.  Yet, never had I met anyone more content to be in the present — loving souls and sharing the Word of life.

Joanie departed my life much too soon.  Plans had been made for her to spend a week in my home.  I anticipated that visit.  I needed more time learning at the feet of my mentor.  Learning how to adjust my attitude.  Learning to focus less on self and more on Christ.  That visit did not happen, but others will.  With all confidence, I anticipate daily visits with Joanie in our Father’s house.

With eagerness, Joanie expected Jesus to come for her.  She only hoped she would not stand before Him ashamed.  Therefore, whether she lived or died, it would be to the glory of her Heavenly Father (Philippians 1:20-21).

“Whatever You’ve got going here Lord is fine with me.”

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A long-time friend and warrior in the battle for life was taken home this week.  Her death was unexpected.  Hit by another car, she died instantly.   This amazing woman will be missed by family, friends, and all those she served throughout a life-time of agape love.

Agape love well describes my friend, Jan Ebert.  It is the name of the ministry to which she dedicated her heart and soul.  Some may ask: Why now?  Why at Christmas?

Knowing my friend as I do, I believe Jan would tell us that she now rejoices in the most unimaginable, yet longed for Christmas gift.  Her prayers have been answered.  She is sitting at the feet of her Heavenly Father singing His praises and basking in His agape love for her.

Jan and I walked into uncharted territory many years ago.  With others, we took a stand for life and co-founded Lutherans For Life of Iowa.  I became president.  She became the Executive Director of the AGAPE Pregnancy Center in Des Moines and served in that position until her departure from this earth.  Jan will be missed because she put  her love into action.  But, knowing Jan as I do, I think she would say, “Do not grieve!”  I believe Jan prayed many times: Come Lord Jesus.  And, for her, He has.

Jesus came down from heaven this Christmas to carry home my friend.

Jan knew she was a vessel in the Lord’s hands for whatever time God allotted.  She was faithful to do what was placed before her, recognizing her human frailties but trusting God for discernment and strength.  Her eyes were always on Jesus.  “The most important thing I am called to do,” she always reminded me, “is to share Christ with those in need.”  That’s exactly what Jan did.  She was an advocate for the women who came to AGAPE.  She prayed for them.  She recognized the deceiver at work in the lives of those women and, for that reason, she wrapped their bodies, hearts, and souls in the warmth of God’s Word.  She took their calls all hours of the day and met with strangers at their convenience.  Through Jan, God welcomed countless babies into the world.

Jan was a light in a dark world.  But, she could only be a light because she clung to her Savior, Jesus Christ.  This Christmas when I sing “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” I will think of Jesus — true Agape — coming to earth for Jan.  And I will hear Jan say to me:

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  Likewise, you should be glad and rejoice with me (Philippians 2:14-18).

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Today, I received the following from Don, a faithful friend and pro-life pastor:

Christ alone, Word alone, Grace alone, Faith alone.  Those might be seen as slogans, but they are far more.  They reveal the heart and character of God as He enters our history — our world — with His great salvation.  About a week ago, I was with family and friends in Oregon.  There were six of us, from different conservative and “evangelical” churches.  I asked the question: How many of you have heard a sermon on either abortion or homosexuality in the last year or two?  Answer: None.  By that kind of silence we have betrayed Jesus, the Word, and the people we should be serving with the Word of Truth and Love.  May God raise up people who will truly stand on His Word, His faithfulness, and even be willing to be ridiculed for Him if necessary.

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