At Heaven’s Gate
Yesterday afternoon I brought communion to an LPC member. Her name is Grace and she is under hospice care and does not have long to live. It had been about a month since I last visited with Grace. She was much weaker and very frail. Simple sentences were not easy for her to form and she spoke barely above a whisper, but she had things she wanted to say. She talked of her family, as she always does – her children and the seventeen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. More than anything though, she wanted me to know that she was ready; ready to go, ready for what is next, ready for death – ready to be with her Lord.
Grace is in some pain, but she has no fear.
As I opened the black communion kit, pouring the grape juice into the small glass and placing a cube of bread on the brass tray, Grace whispered, “Thank you.” I began to say the words of institution, “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it…” Grace was repeating every word, the precious lines deeply rooted in her memory from all those years she had come faithfully to the Table.
Likewise as I shared the Twenty-third Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer. Every word remembered.
Sitting at Grace’s bedside, her hand in mine, I was struck by the reality that the next time Grace is at table with her Lord it will be in the Kingdom. “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) I told Grace what I was thinking and she nodded and again she said, “I am ready.” No resignation in her voice, rather a quiet sense of joyful anticipation.
Grace is now confined to a sickbed, indeed, her deathbed. No use denying the reality or softening the words. But so much more than that, Grace is at heaven’s gate. That gate will open soon. And then such joy. No more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things passed away. As the hymn says, “Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.”
Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.
I knew that Grace was tired and so, I just sat for awhile at the bedside. Then she surprised me. She began to pray, but not for herself. She prayed for me. A prayer of thanks and for God’s strong protection. I have never felt so humbled. A prayer spoken on my behalf from heaven’s gate, soon to open.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
See you Sunday
At Heaven’s Gate