We all wonder about death: When will it come, what will it be like, will it be heaven for us? It's the getting there that is so full of God's surprises, the closer we come to that either far-off day - or near at hand day.
We think about it in relation to those dearest to us on earth. Our families. Our wives and husbands. Our children and grandchildren. Dear colleagues with whom we've worked and served at Jesus' call.
Here in New Hampshire, our precious older daughter, our newly retired minister, with her husband Bruce, was up at 3:30 am to meet the cab that was to take them directly to the Humphrey airport, to help them board their 7:00 am Southwest flight for Boston, then to catch the C & J bus for the two-hour ride to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where they were to rent a car nearby and drive the remaining hour north to Ossipee, to be a week or two with Kristen's aging parents.
How we and they had longed to see each other. They'd had little sleep before coming. We'd be up late, talking, we knew, despite their expectations and ours. They'd come to rest after their long summer's preparations for their daughter's wedding. It was time to find rest for the body, and peace for the soul beside, and on Ossipee's waters, we would all be renewed by the time together.
But, that very day exhaustion overtook me in my summer's long program to gain strength, and be renewed myself. I had a long lunch with a young person, once of Colonial Church, who each summer had driven from her home and ministry in southern New Hampshire to talk "church," and ministry and be encouraged by our time together over "lunch without end." We had both looked forward to this long conversation over New England clam chowder and salad in a fine Wolfeboro restaurant looking down up the beauty of Lake Winnepesaukee.
I could feel my struggle for breath as I walked from my car across the bridge to the Garwood Restaurant's side of the street. We met, and talked at length. We prayed, then parted with a hug. A tender, faith-filled time.
But, as I drove home, I knew all was not well with me. The over-taking exhaustion was palpable. Breathing came harder. What was going on?
We called Minnesota after dinner that evening to seek advice from our middle daughter, a Senior Nurse at Hennepin County Hospital. She called back, and was very firm. "You need to take Dad to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro tonight. Don't wait until morning. Acting quickly is important, with his history of hospitalizations and surgeries, and decades-long struggle with lung disease and bronchiecstasis."
Mother and daughter in New Hampshire swung into action. Bruce got behind the wheel of their rental car and drove us swiftly and safely through the dark, to the hospital.
I received wonderful, cheerful, helpful care by Emergency doctors and nurses at the hospital. Blood was drawn. Tests were made, X-rays were taken. The white count was high, indicating infection. But not quite pneumonia. A decision was made about a strong antibiotic - to begin that night. And with that, miraculously I was released to go home, where I longed to be. Kristen took the wheel and drove us home through the dark. It was 1:30 am when we reached our Tamarack Lodge. We were all tired. Our couple who had come for recuperation, was instead exhausted.
We prayed. They went to bed. It was now up to me to do recovery right - with balance and care.
Those who needed rest had acted in faith to help these old folks, their parents - willingly, silently, setting themselves aside, to help their hosts. It was late next morning when we saw each other. The faithful family, doing what their hearts and their loving faith told them - disregarding their own need.
Something they never expected had happened. They came through for their family. They followed the choice God gave them. In spite of their own need.
How strange and wonderful are faithful families. How wonderfully full of surprises that we know as miracles, from the God Who so loves us, and gives us life.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."