Making final preparations

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Do you believe the best thing you will ever do is be prepared for Heaven?

Last Sunday I settled in bed to watch the weather and write a message in a sympathy card before going to sleep. Searching for comforting scriptures to share in the card and finding notes I used at Mema Fussell’s funeral inside my Bible pricked my heart to write this story. Seasons of grief surfaced as I read my thoughts about her life, Papa’s sorrow, and God’s promise to wipe away every tear and mend broken hearts.

In capital letters I wrote, “Final Thoughts…How long is eternity? Imagine forever in a place with no sadness or sorrow? Are you prepared to go to Heaven today?” With the sympathy card waiting for the scripture and my signature, I realized one card would not be sufficient for the many sorrowful, sad people in our community. So, please read this story with prayerful, loving support for our broken-hearted friends adjusting to life here without their loved ones. Sharing the card’s message with each of you seems fitting.

“You have lost – Someone so special. We want to keep our loved ones with us forever, and it hurts so much when forever comes too soon. The loss is so great. Suddenly acceptance is required. No permission asked …What if the spirit of your loved one has not left you, but has moved inside your heart to live, never to be forgotten? Once we love someone, that person becomes a part of us and remains with us for as long as our memory of them lasts. Treasure your memories now. Try to focus on the time you did have. Let the blessings that you shared bathe you with love, encourage you with comfort, and inspire you to go on. In the silence of your loneliness and as you struggle to adjust to this loss, please know that you’re being remembered often …”

Placing the card on my nightstand, I picked up a treasured gift given to me when James passed away — a small book with big messages titled Healing After Loss. Reading a story a day helps keep grief away. The entry for Oct. 7 tendered my heart as I hope it does yours.

“As the months pass and the seasons change something of tranquility descends, and although the well-remembered footstep will not sound again, nor the voice call from the room beyond, there seems to be about one in the air an atmosphere of love, a living presence…it is as though one shared, in some indefinable manner, the freedom and the peace, even at times the joy, of another world where there is no more pain…The feeling is simply there, pervading all thought, all action. When Christ the healer said, ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,’ he must have meant just this.”

Stages of grieving come and go without warning. Yet, in God’s perfect timing, a sense of peace and joy seep into the hearts of the ones left behind who are learning to live life here without their loved ones. The seasons following death give a sense of hitting rock bottom and coming back slowly but surely.

Deuteronomy 33:27 reinforces what God can do when we believe in the depths of despair and gut -wrenching grief. “The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Families across our nation are grieving from sudden tragic losses and/or long, hard battles with diseases. Sometimes we are so tired. Grief is tiring. Sorrow can sap our strength and the one who was always there to support and strengthen us is gone. So, in mourning – who is there to help us?

How blessed we are to live in faith based, close knit communities where family and friends, even strangers, rise up to help hurting people feel peace and promise. When fatigue and despair seem to remain our constant companion, Christ comes to our rescue. God sends help and hears the cries of His grieving children. His sweet, sweet spirit resides within and people pray us through the tough times that can cripple unless we trust Christ to help us go forth in faith.

Words from today’s devotion perfectly end this story written for all the broken-hearted, grieving, hurting people in our community (and across our nation) who wonder if the sun will ever shine again. “Now is the time to believe and to say, ‘Come to me. Fill me with your presence. I cannot handle this by myself. Help me. Be my energy and my rest”!

God promises to bind our wounds and heal our broken hearts, to dry every teardrop, and to bring good from the bad things we encounter according to His plans for our lives. He sees our crying at night and brings joy in the morning. Our heavenly Father never leaves or forsakes us. Being prepared for Heaven is the best thing we will ever do for we will spend eternity with the Lord and loved ones too.

Closing my book, Healing After Loss, when I thought this story was finished brought a wink from God I humbly share with every grieving family. A sympathy card sent to James when Sarah passed away fell from the book on my keyboard. I read it with joy – unspeakable joy that has taken many seasons to feel again; I share it with faith that in His perfect timing joy will rise up in your hearts again too.

“When you are hurting, come to Me and I will bind your wounds. When you need to be assured, come to Me and I will give you My embrace. When you can no longer go on, come to Me and I will carry you. When you need comfort, come to Me and I will wipe your tears. When you are uncertain of My love, come to Me and I will speak My heart to you. Always remember that in your need you are coming to the One who came for you.”

Remember when you can’t see the sun…it’s still there…and so is HE!

By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and the Learning Station.

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and the Learning Station.