At 9:53 this morning I picked up the phone and began dialing Claudie's phone number. I sensed a prompting to put the phone down and call her later, around 11:00 to be exact. I've learned that these gentle promptings belong to the precious Spirit of God who lives within His children and that I need to quickly obey and not push forward with my plans.
I busied myself with paperwork and at 10:58 I again picked up the phone and dialed her number. A young lady answered and I told her who I was and asked if Claudie felt up to talking. Her response was "This is Tina, Claudie's daughter, and my Mom died this morning." All I could utter was 'I'm so sorry, so very sorry'. Soon another voice, a very familiar one, came to the phone. Claudie's Mom, crying and telling me Claudie had died at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Her entire family was with her and I was told she died peacefully. A sister then took the phone, explained that the hospice nurse had arrived and they needed to talk with her. She thanked me for calling and said good-bye.
Once again I felt shocked ... her death happened so quickly. Less than a week after learning of her illness she's gone. Gone where? I don't know. I didn't get to talk with her as I thought I would ... I thought there would be more time. I did write her a letter & mailed it on Monday morning. I told her all I remembered of our younger days, how we met, spending the night at one another's homes. The hope chest she had nearly filled by the age of 17. (Do young ladies even believe in hope chests any longer?) Claudie was absolutely certain she would get married; me, at that time, not so sure any man would have me. She never doubted she'd find the love of her life and she did. Thankfully, I did too.
In the letter I also said this:
Perhaps the most important part of this letter is that I need to ask you if you’ve ever put your faith in Christ, Claudie. Have you come to the knowledge that we all need a Savior and we all need to be forgiven? I sincerely pray that’s already happened in your life. If it hasn’t, would you ask Him right now to forgive and save you? He will do it if you but ask. He died on the Cross that we might live eternally with Him. Life here is but a short time, or so it seems. Life however, goes on … the Bible tells us that for Christians, ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’ 2 Corinthians 5:8 It is my greatest desire to see you again … if not here, then in heaven.
Where is she tonight? Where did she go when she took her last breath here? I don't know. I wish I could say with certainty she's in heaven, as Pat knows her Mom is there and Trish knows her Daddy is there and I know my Dad is there ... but I don't know and I don't like the way this feels.
What I must rely on is that God is a just and faithful, loving God. He answers prayers when we can't give them voice. He knows the beginning and the end for each of us.
What I must do is stop waiting for a 'better' time to talk to someone about their soul and where they will spend eternity. Now might be the only opportunity we have to speak of those things. I've heard it said that we shouldn't bombard people with the gospel ... take time and get to know people before telling them about salvation. Get to be their friend first. That's all well and good if you know for certain you and they will be alive in a week, or two or twenty. But what if today is the one and only opportunity you have to share it and the only time they'll have to hear it?
I ask God to give me boldness to witness of His mercy and grace and the wrath that awaits those who reject His Son. I ask God to give me boldness to speak the truth in love and not be concerned about offending people. In our effort to not offend, we'll remain silent and all the while that unsaved soul is dancing on his grave, and for the unsaved, that grave leads to judgment, wrath and everlasting hell. May God, please God!, put a fire in our bones that will not be shut up by the world, the flesh or the devil. All three of these whisper "there's time, there's time...don't worry so, there's time..."
"Behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6:2
May we awake and be aware of what's going on around us. We are at war, we live in a battle zone and the enemy of our souls lurks about, seeking whom he can devour. May we be on guard for ourselves and for one another. May we warn people and encourage them to come to Christ while there's time to do that. May we better understand the God of Scripture and for our soul's sake, may we never attempt to make Him into something He is not.