Encouraging Perspective on Death—When it SEEMS too soon…

Two words spewed by my math teacher used to cause me to hyperventilate…

Two words included in our homework helped me find an excuse not to complete the assignment.

Which two words equate to a guaranteed nightmare?

Story problem…

Ah well, some of you are laughing.  Some of you love story problems.  That’s your problem! Just means you’re a great deal smarter than this math-phobic-girl.

I forgot how much I detested story problems until our boys got to be old enough to have them in their homework.  Thankfully hubby John loves math.  Opposites attract, obviously!

My all-time favorite comic from The Far Side shows a pitiful, bewildered looking man speaking to an angel at the pearly gates.  The angel informs him, “Okay, now listen up…  Nobody gets in here without answering the following questions:  A train leaves Philadelphia at 1:00 p.m.  It’s traveling at 65 miles per hour.  Another train leaves Denver at 4:00…Say, you need some paper?”  It’s entitled “Math Phobic’s Nightmare”. 

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Today I’d like to tell you about a discovery of the best-of-the-best kind of “story problem”.  This excerpt I’m about to share with you will encourage you, especially if you’ve lost a loved one and their death seemed too soon.

Chris and Kerry Shook have written an excellent book called, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.  It’s a resource to read over and over.

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They tell of a pastor from Owensboro, Kentucky named Jess Moody.  Some of my relatives knew him.  Jess became friends with a young couple in his church.  One day the husband came to his office and was clearly upset.

He said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news.  My wife has terminal cancer, and it’s spread all over her body.  The doctors have told us she has only weeks, not even months to live.  Jess, she’s at the hospital.  She’s asking for you.  We don’t know how to handle this.”

Jess went to the hospital immediately.  The young wife and mother asked him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is like a thousand years.  Is that true?  Is a thousand years like a day to God?”

Jess answered, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.”

2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV)

Psalm 90:4 parallels this, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (NIV)

The wife then said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour.  I’ll be leaving my husband and the children soon.  He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?  Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands?  I’ve missed you.’

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.  I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’”

Jess Moody said two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was, “I love you.  Take care of our children.  I’ll see you in an hour.”

Heaven religion concept - sun rays and sky

Now that’s an eternal perspective! (This story can be found on pages 218-219 in the Shooks’ book.)

That’s the best kind of story problem for two reasons:

1 – The precious young wife and mother did the math for us!!!  Biblical math! Heavenly math!

2 – It gives us an encouraging eternal perspective along with the reminder that God’s timing isn’t ours and we must trust in His sovereign will.

Last week we talked about dealing with a sudden death.  Click on… Losing a Loved One Overnight…  We are still reeling over losing Stuart Thompson. But, we know we will see him again.

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Pictured from left to right:  Frank Thompson, Stuart Thompson, Woody Hoagland and Jonathan Slevin on June 20th, 2013.

As my friend Cynthia Kragthorpe said during hard times, “Last time I checked, God was still on the throne.  We cannot question His timing.”  She really encouraged me then and I’ll never forget her words.

I pray you may find encouragement to press on today, thanks to the Shooks sharing the young couple’s story of facing a death that seemed to soon.  There are countless ones of you out there who have endured a similar scenario.

Sweet Kristen Sauder, who I’ve talked about before (www.furtherstillminstries.com ), wrote a wonderful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal—A Journey through Luke 15.  As God would orchestrate, my reading for today says, “Securing a spot in God’s family doesn’t change the fact that you and I must keep hoofing it.

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Kristen gives us three great Scriptures encouraging us to press on:

Ephesians 4:1b says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Colossians 1:10 says, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy  of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

I Thessalonians 2:12, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Let’s not forget to keep Kristen in our prayers as she is patiently enduring cancer.  Her weekly blog not only has updates, but great faith-building words. (See her website above.)

Share this excellent Heavenly “story problem” with your friends and family!  Be encouraged.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed Fourth of July!!!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to two very dear friends and mentors of mine.  Both of these gals endured the tragic loss of an adult child.  They encourage me each time I’m with them to press on.  Their faith is their rock they cling to daily.

Please join me in praying for Betsy Heady, whose son, Paul, died at the age of forty.  And my friend in Indiana, Shirley Garwood, whose daughter Susan, died shortly after delivering her precious daughter Emma, Shirley’s beloved granddaughter, who’s now eight years old.

May God continue to bless you, Betsy and Shirley, and hold you tightly as you shine the light of Christ on us and many others.)

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5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

5 responses to “Encouraging Perspective on Death—When it SEEMS too soon…

  1. Betsy Heady

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your continual encouragement! I, too am a Math Phobic…..but the Lord’s heavenly math gives us all HOPE to endure, bring as many as possible with us, and look forward to that day of being reunited. To HIM be the glory!

  2. Gwen Paten

    Oh Elizabeth, I have recalled this story many times in my journey. I remember the Shook’s were at Rick Warren’s church when I visited several years before losing Mike & heard them tell this story. I was touched by it then & now cling to it’s truth. Thanks for always blessing me with your words. Love you sister!

  3. Nancy Aguiar

    Blessed by reading this, Elizabeth!! Thankful the REAL QUESTION is if we trust Jesus! That is me shouting a HOLY YES! Strengthened by your painful walk of faith, Betsy, Shirley, and Kristen!!! Love you guys! Trusting Him for the “minutes” ahead…

  4. Robin Chaddock

    I have read “One Month to Live” and I absolutely love it! Thank you, Sweet Elizabeth, for bringing refreshment and perspective into my week once more. You’re amazing!

  5. What a powerful and encouraging post, Elizabeth. “Too soon” for us translates as “perfect timing” for God!