Good morning friends...
In a few hours I will drive to Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota to be with my extended family. I have 3 sisters (all younger than me) and back in May my niece-in-law, Jackie, (wife of my middle sister's son Grant) discovered she had stage four lung cancer. Jackie had never smoked or done anything to harm her body, as she was a runner who took care of herself. But at the age of 40 this disease took her life and on Friday morning it took her life. She leaves behind her husband Grant and their 4 children and tonight will be the visitation at the funeral home and tomorrow the memorial service. I wrote a note that I included with my sympathy card and I want to share that with you this morning.
Over these past months Jan and I have prayed so often for you and Jackie. We have prayed for healing with a great deal of faith, knowing that ultimately she would be healed, but wanting that healing to take place in this life.
Now the two of us find ourselves on a road “less traveled” and a road that we wish were “never traveled” as we start down a path without our spouse. In the time it took for Jan to say “What is happening to me?” and the short seven months it took for cancer to take the life of Jackie; our lives have been forever altered.
I have been on the road for only a few days; but I have been learning some very important lessons:
· Jesus is a Loving Shepherd who walks the road with me.
· I am filled by the Spirit with the presence and comfort of God in my life.
· My children and grand-children are phenomenal in their love and support; and they give me reason to put my feet on the floor in the morning and look forward to a new day.
· I am blessed with happy memories of a truly great marriage and the wonderful woman I was fortunate enough to call my wife.
· My support group of friends and family are simply awesome.
· My church and my faith sustain me in new and deeper ways.
When your Mom called and said through tears: “Oh John, I have to tell you that Jackie is now in heaven with Jan and Jesus”; it broke my heart to hear the news. I was on my way to church for an early morning men’s Bible study and I had to stop the car and take some time to catch my breath. This morning I got to thinking about “what is heaven like right now because Jan and Jackie are there”? I think the two of them have got heaven buzzing with a new level of joy and enthusiasm and energy and love for Jesus. I take comfort in that, even though I selfishly wish that both of them were still here with us.
Please know Grant that I will be praying for you with the intensity of one who is traveling this road with you. We have a real learning curve ahead of us to understand how to navigate this road, but we don’t travel alone. We have two fantastic women cheering us on to make the most of life; and God the Father is leading the way; and Jesus walks beside us like a friend who is closer than a brother; and the Holy Spirit is filling us with the joy and comfort and peace of our Lord.
Walk with courage,