The Way to Live-The Way to Leave

 

In September of 2018 while on a spiritual retreat in Colorado, I peeked at Messenger. It was the kind of retreat where we were asked to put all technology aside, but I did happen to glance at my phone and saw something from my cousin, Greg. We lived 1000 miles apart which made keeping in touch difficult. Because it was unusual for him to message me, I knew it had to be something important. It was. He was asking for prayer. He had passed out in a restaurant which landed him in the hospital for testing. The doctors feared he had leukemia. The fear was confirmed.

Greg was a farmer. A friend has the right word to describe farmers: tough. Yes, farmers are tough. Greg had strength and toughness. But, he had something else, too: gentleness and a great capacity to love and spread joy. He poured out that love and joy to his teenage daughter, Sydney. He couldn’t bear leaving her. She’d already lost her mother 9 years ago. So, Greg fought hard for one and a half years. Two weeks ago yesterday, his final earthly battle was done.

I called Greg frequently during his stay at MD Anderson in Houston. His stay was long: eleven months. Our conversations were gifts to me. I remember one of his comments, “It’s a win-win, no matter what happens.” He said those words with joy and assurance. He could say them because he knew he had the hope of Heaven awaiting him. He knew that’s where he was headed, either sooner or later. Of course, he desired later, but he was entrusting it all to Jesus whom he loved and had given his life to years earlier.

God, through His goodness, grace, and mercy provided a way for me to attend Greg’s memorial service. Actually, God worked a miracle in order for me to be there. Yes, there was intense sadness for Sydney, Greg’s mother (my precious 90-year-old Aunt Nancy) and Greg’s brother, Mike. And, sorrow for all the rest of us who loved Greg. But, what we received from the memorial service gave comfort and even joy.

The pastor and shepherd, Rick, who’d spent much time with Greg, shared what Greg whispered into his ear one of the last times he saw Greg. Greg’s declared, “It is well with my soul.” How could Greg say that? He knew Who he belonged to and what he had to look forward to. It’s evident he’d surrendered everything which included his every breath to the keeper of his soul: Jesus.

Greg left the proof that he’d surrendered it all. This proof was included in the words he wrote that were read at the funeral: “Everyday God gives us is a blessing. When I’m gone I’ll be with him. What a blessing.” In these words printed on the memorial program, Greg again affirmed, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

This proof was also in the words of the two songs Greg wanted sung: “When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary, when troubles come, and my heart burdened be. Then, I am still and wait here in the silence until You come and sit awhile with me. You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains, You raise me up to walk on stormy seas, I am strong when I am on your shoulders, You raise me up to more than I can be.” And then the song Even If by Mercy Me “. . . I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand, but even if You don’t my hope is You alone.”

Greg left us in a way that brought glory and honor to the One who made him. Greg’s hope was in Christ and him alone. He breathed his last breath knowing all was well with his soul.

Questions we must answer: How is my soul today? How will my soul be the day I take my last breath?

What we do right now in this very moment will determine the answer.

6 thoughts on “The Way to Live-The Way to Leave

    • Thank you for your meaningful comments. It is so true that Greg’s story impacted me in many ways and will continue to bring glory to God. It was a life well lived. Blessings and love to you.

  1. My precious friend, Kristi,

    I love your posts! All from the heart and helps us all focus on Jesus more! In all the ways we Christians can connect with each other and with the sermon Bruce Chesser did on how the red wood trees connect their roots to hold each other up we can do that as well!

    I was dead tried Thursday night a long day even took my shoes off in the cold and walked bare foot I was so tired. Got the mail and there were Valentines Day cards I did not even open that night. Then before going to Vanderbilt Friday after a change of plans I read them, feeling so loved was able to love on everyone I saw through the love of Jesus. I think the love and joy in those cards ignited the love of God in me that was tired at the time just from acts of kindness from others. Even an Intern told me she just wanted to hug me. What I am trying to say just like with your post we never know what a blessing we are being to other and how God will use it. It’s so exciting to live for Him and try to serve Him just by caring. We never really know how we might touch another life for God!

    I love your title in this post! Hope we both can continue to live no matter what for HIS Glory and leave by His Glory!

    I love and miss you precious girl!

    Blessings and love to you my sweet sister!

    Jessie Coker

    BTW When my Jeff was in kindergarten at Indian Lake with teacher Debora Sutton I used to help with art! Debora was such an organized person her science projects would go with their art! She was expecting their first baby! She told me her husband did not want the baby. I knew where they lived on Wessington Place and that she was not going back to Indian Lake but we moved our children to Hendersonville Christian and I had to pass over Wessington Place to take them to school each morning. I felt the precious Holy Sprit prompt me to go see her and even remembered what it was like when I was at home to have our first wanted baby. I never used that opportunity! Debora hung herself in their garage she and the baby both died. I do not blame myself but I did miss a opportunity. Now even if I don’t know for sure about something I would rather error on the side of doing something than not doing it. ( I don’t know why I told you about this.)

    • Jessie, I loved everything you shared!
      What a blessing you are to so many including me. I got a smile out of you walking barefoot and then going to mailbox and finding those valentines. Even though you were exhausted you had some playful moments. One of our granddaughters goes outside barefoot even in the winter.:-) God loved on you through those valentines and then you loved on others. That’s truly passing on blessings as God intends it. The story about Debra Sutton is such a sad one. I appreciate you sharing it. It is a reminder to me, too, to listen to those promptings from God, big and small and to follow through on them.
      I think you go to Israel next month. I know you are excited. It will be wonderful!! Blessings and love to you, too, my dear friend.

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