(by Wendi Stewart Colaiuta)
A brave mom reached out to hold her son’s hand one last time as he passed from this earth into the arms of JESUS, courageously thanking Him for what she’d been given – thirteen beautiful years with her son and the assurance that he loved JESUS and was safely at home in heaven with Him!
A devoted husband watched as his wife gave their young daughter one last kiss, said her deeply emotional goodbyes, and drifted into a sleep she would not wake up from on this earth. She courageously thanked the LORD for what she’d been given – the ability to make Him proud with the time He gave her and her dream come true of waking up in heaven with her Savior!
These dear ones are perfect strangers to me and yet their stories of bold faith in the face of heartbreaking grief gripped me to the core. Tears flowed freely as my mind flashed through pictures of the countless times my own kids have slipped their hands into mine, the times my husband has held me close, the gift we have received every time our eyes met and we could experience a thought, a moment, a question, a realization, or a slice of life … together.
I can’t help asking myself the hard questions … do I realize what I’ve been given? What have I done with the time I’ve been given with those I love so dearly? The thought of losing any one of them rocks me to my core. It is clear they are treasures to me! I absolutely thank the LORD for the priceless gift of each of them.
What does the LORD call me to do with those gifts? This pit in my stomach tells me that I am holding on too tightly. More tightly to these gifts than to the Giver? As I pray for deeper understanding, I hear a familiar question cross my mind, “What would JESUS do?”
This prayer of the LORD JESUS in John 17 gives me a really good list to follow:
JESUS looked up to heaven and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that I may glorify You, for You gave Me authority over all flesh; so I may give eternal life to all You have given Me. This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true GOD, and the One You have sent – JESUS CHRIST. I have glorified You on the earth – I have finished the work You gave Me to do … I have revealed Your Name to those You gave Me ... They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, because the words that You gave Me, I have given to them. They have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them … Holy Father, protect them by Your Name … Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth" (John 17:1-19).
In all that I do as a wife or a mother, these are important goals to remember:
- Always glorify GOD, my Father.
- Help my loved ones to know the one true GOD, to find eternal life in Christ.
- Faithfully do the work GOD gives me to do – until it is done!
- Always reveal GOD’s Name – point others to Him, give them His Words.
- Help them to see that all that we have comes from Him, including each of them!
- Pray for them – that GOD (not me!) will protect them and grow them by His Words of truth!
Revelation 4 describes the throne room of heaven. Around GOD’s throne are twenty-four elders, each seated on their own throne, dressed in white with gold crowns on their heads. The only things they hold or wear have been given to them by the One who sits on the throne – a designated place, a white garment, and a gold crown. What GOD has placed in their hands they offer back to Him. They place their best treasures from Him at His feet. In this way they honor Him!
"They lay their crowns before the throne and say, 'You are worthy, our LORD and our GOD, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things and for Your pleasure they were created'” (Revelation 4:10-11).
Is it really any different for me? The things I hold in my hands or in my heart here on earth have also been placed there by the One on the throne. What does GOD call me to do with those treasures? What could be better than laying them down at the feet of the One who entrusted them to me in the first place?
By laying my best gifts before GOD’s throne I honor Him:
- I recognize that the gift is from Him, and I thank Him for it!
- I acknowledge that the gift has its own purpose for Him that is better than any plan I could conceive.
- I return ownership of that gift to Him, the One who can care and protect that treasure far better than I ever will.
- I free myself from the stressful and selfish white-knuckle gripping of that gift, to receive an even greater gift – the JOY of watching Almighty Creator GOD work in and through that gift, free of any burden or personal expectations.
If the LORD does not return first, the day will come when I hold a loved one’s hand for the last time, give them one last kiss, hold them tenderly as our Savior calls one of us home. I pray that it will be a moment that is flooded with more thankfulness than regret, inexplicably more joy than sorrow. That I will courageously and genuinely thank the LORD for the beautiful years we have been given. And rest in the assurance that His grace has enabled me to make Him proud with the time He gave me.
"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand" (I Chronicles 29:14).
Read more here: John 17 – Revelation 4 – John 1:3 – Colossians 1:16 – I Samuel 1:27-28