Summary: Christmas Presents

We found out what our friend Grace wants during this time we call “Christmas.” We’ve learned that she wants either to go and be with the Lord or become stronger to the point where she can help others once again - NOW! We’ve mentioned Grace before. She’s an amazing 92-year old lady, who, up until two weeks ago, was visiting an incredible THIRTY elderly persons a day and comforting them. But she has a serious “problem with (her) heart,” she told us, and she’s very “tired.”

She helped my mother, visiting her on a daily basis, until one year ago, when my mom went to be with the Lord. My mother’s friends could no longer visit regularly, and so we prayed for a friend. God’s answer was Grace – she has been a very real friend to not only my mom and many others, but also to us. The kind of friend you don’t want to lose.

After teaching the Bible study in the convalescent facility last Thursday morning, my wife, Genevieve, and I, went up to Grace’s room to see how she’s doing. She was very weak and did not feel like talking. I anointed her with oil, held her hand, and began to pray. After a few words, she uncharacteristically interrupted the prayer, and said, “Don’t pray that.” I asked, “Don’t pray what, Grace?” and she answered, “Don’t just pray that I’ll get better. Pray that He will release me now or give me the strength to help others again.”

I stopped, and for what seemed like a very long “instant,” I could not pray at all; but then I did, finding that I was able to pray, “Thy will be done.” I did not (and do not) want to lose our friend. We’ve had several days to think about this, and I realize that if she is to be healed, I must PRAY as the Lord leads, and also, if it’s her time, I must let her go.

She’s READY because she believes the Lord has a time for us all. She also recognizes that God can heal her right now. Here’s a lady who certainly has love for others, and she has plenty of faith in the Lord. Grace has something else we all need – she has a very certain HOPE that when her “soul” or whatever you term it leaves this planet, she will be with the Lord. Grace has the same “desire” that Paul did, who said he had the “desire to depart and be with Christ,” for, as he put it, to go and be with Him is “very much better” than anything on this earth (Philippians 1:23).

Whatever we need, God will restore it in eternity. Those who have trusted in the Lord, will be with loved ones once more. You will meet Grace, and we will be with her again, too. God "heals the brokenhearted," now and forever.

A few days ago, we attended an “In Remembrance” service at a local church. The reality is that the holidays are especially difficult for those who have lost loved ones – the moments that should be filled with joy can instead contain a sense of infinite loss. There are those we love so much that we NEVER want to lose them, not even for a time. On the back page of the bulletin that accompanied the service was an old poem called “God’s Lent Loved Ones (Author Unknown).” Here are the words of that sad, but beautiful poem:

“‘I’ll lend you for a little while a loved one of Mine,’ God said,

‘For you to love while they live, and mourn when they’re dead.

It may be six or seven years or forty-two or three;

but will you, ‘till I call them back, take care of them for Me?

They’ll bring charm to gladden you and (should their stay be brief),

you’ll have their loving memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise they will stay since all from earth return;

but there are lessons taught below, My loved one must learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over in My search for teachers true;

and from the things that crowd life’s lane, I have chosen you.

Now, will you give them all your love? Not think the labor’s vain?

Nor hate Me when I take this lent loved one back again?

I fancied that I heard them say, ‘Dear Lord, Thy will be done,

for all the joys this loved one will bring, the risk of grief I’ll run.’

We will shelter them with tenderness, we’ll love them while we may,

and for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay.

But should Thy angels call them much sooner than we planned,

we’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.”

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