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May 12 2013

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Remembering Mom and praising God

When Mom gasped suddenly and took her final breath in this life earlier this month, succumbing to the insidious disease of Alzheimer’s, we were there with her. My brother Jimmy, sister Kelly, our aunt Kathryn and uncle Reggie (Mom’s brother and sister), and I were gathered at her bedside and watched her pass from this world. Then we said a final prayer together and thanked God for her life of sacrifice.

Mom always sacrificed for us, pulling my brother, sister and myself through innumerable struggles growing up in a home with an alcoholic father who had too many problems of his own to deal with ours.

At her bedside, so many of those memories came flooding back. I remembered how she was always there for us — when I joined the Cub Scouts, she became a den mother; when I played Little League for three years, she was at every game. She found a way to be involved in whatever I was doing, and she did the same for my brother and sister.

We live in an age of latch-key children, absentee parents, runaway brides and runaway mothers. Mom was the antithesis of all that. She made it clear with every decision she made that we were what mattered most to her.

Jesus taught that there is no greater love than to give one’s life for others (John 15:13). Mom exemplified this teaching. In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, practiced over and over and over again for decades, she gave her own life in so many ways for ours.

Because of all the religious-themed writing I’ve done in my life, I’ve had a lot of theological discussions with people through the years. The question I’ve been asked more than any other is how do you reconcile the apparent contradiction of a loving God who created a world filled with death, pain and suffering.

It’s a question posed by people who have either never read or not believed God’s Word, because you only have to read up to the third chapter of the Bible to discover the answer to this supposed “mystery.” In Genesis 1 and 2, we find that God created this world in absolute perfection. In Genesis 3, we see man corrupting God’s world, and the created order itself, through our sin. As a result, we are fallen people, part of a fallen race, living in a fallen world of our own making.

When we come to the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, we find that the only answer to this problem is the Cross and the shedding of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as full payment for the penalty of our sins. And those who have read through to the end of the Book know that God will in time restore this world once and forevermore to its original state of perfection. Jesus said of Himself and of faith in Him: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). His Word assures us: “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55). That means Jesus has conquered both death and the grave, destroying their power over every person who trusts in Him alone for salvation.

That is the reason, the only reason, I was able to rejoice when I saw my mother’s lifeless body in the casket. It is in times such as these that we learn if God’s promises are experientially true, if we experience them in the darkest times we will face in this world.

What I discovered once again, standing over Mom’s casket, is that I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that God is love, His Word is true and Jesus is Lord. And I was thankful as ever that there truly is peace in the midst of a storm; a peace that, as the Bible aptly describes it, “passes all understanding.”

Mom’s body was taken and buried, but the truth is that she is alive today and always will be. I praise the Lord for Mom’s life, and for the eternal life He purchased for every one who belongs to Him.

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