We tend to not think about death, but, it is coming, and really, when it is your turn and you stand before God—what will become of you then?
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (Ephesians 3:17)
My mother died several weeks ago. It was an amazing process—not in a good way—to watch her go from a real, living, breathing person to a lifeless shell. Granted, people die in different ways, but her passing from life to death reinforced for me the inescapable fact that life has an expiration date. If, as Jesus said, “…for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment,” (Matthew 12:36) we have a major problem.
My mother had heard the horror stories of neglected, even abused, nursing home residents and had never wanted to be placed there, so when she began failing over four years ago we took her in. It wasn’t easy, but I loved her and resolved to give her the best possible care I could.
Every morning I got her coffee, served her breakfast, and administered her pills and eye drops. I tried to sit with her when I could, and talk or read a devotion, and I listened, at least to a degree, to stories about a Siamese woman who tried to steal her clothes during the night and the bad men living in the basement which we don’t have. In the evening, I would empty her commode, floss and brush her teeth, again administer her pills and eye drops, and sometimes a laxative. I helped her bathe, took her to the doctor, and sat with her in the emergency room when she fell. I honestly felt I was doing a good job. I even specifically prayed that I would treat her in a way that would not cause me regret when she passed. Yet that last week, as it become apparent that she might not be coming back home this time, God showed me something.
I knew Isaiah 64:6, “…all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags,” but now I saw how it applied to me. During that last week as she lay dying in the hospital I saw all of my failures; all of the ways I could have made her life with us better, but didn’t. It really didn’t help that most of these failings were unintentional, due to the fact that I was only one person (with the assistance of a fifteen and ten year old) trying to do a job multiple people share in a nursing home, or that beside caring for her I was responsible for being a wife, a mother to two children still at home whom I homeschool, and landlord of two apartment buildings in another city.
The reality was that she was probably very lonely during her last years here with us. There were many times when she would have wanted someone to just sit with her while I went upstairs to unwind; when she would have liked to go shopping or for a ride; when she wanted soup and I had not made any because my husband doesn’t like soup and we have grown unaccustomed to it, and countless other ways in which I failed her.
Coming to understand this was miserable for me, but it highlighted the whole purpose of the Divine Plan. What I cannot do—because I am human, because I forget, because I get tired or impatient, because ultimately, I sin and simply cannot—Christ did. My righteousnesses really are filthy rags—but He is perfect.
So when it is my turn—and just as hers came, mine will too—I don’t have to remember the times I sinned and failed. Psalm 103:12 promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us,” and Hebrews 8:10 tells me, “…I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” The reason–the only reason–I can face death and the holy, righteous Judge–God Almighty–is because of Christ.
This, then, is the gospel. It is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) When I stand in judgment—because “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27)—the only hope of forgiveness, of escaping a just recompense for all of my wrongs toward my dear mother or anyone else, of a future with my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer God, is that He sees the Holy Spirit of Christ in me, and this is my only hope of glory!
Dear Lord, holy Christ,
Dwell in my heart through faith; let the Father see Your Holy Spirit in me, because You are my only hope of glory!