God Creates Us for Fellowship with Himself and Our Neighbor
I am a homebody. An introvert. Home is a comfortable place for me, a refuge. Staying in my cozy living room with a book or sitting at my desk studying God’s Word or writing can be enough for me. I get lost in my own world. Watching the people through my front window is so much easier than thinking about what to say to people I don’t really know. But God calls me to do more. He created me for fellowship, first with Himself, and then with my neighbor.
When asked what the greatest commandment in the law was, Jesus replied,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-39)
On Friday, February 17, my mom passed away. She had been sick for almost two years. Today, Mom rejoices in heaven. All of her pain, gone. She sees her Savior face to face and casts her crown at His feet. The best parts of me are because of the lessons I learned from Mom. I will miss her all the rest of my days, but the things Mom taught me are a legacy of her unconditional love.
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from my mom. Wisdom was not found in school, but in the day-to-day examples set by Mom at home.
Lessons I Learned from Mom
Be faithful to God
Every day, Mom took the Methodist daily devotional, the Upper Room, and her Bible and spent time alone with God. But she didn’t leave the Word in between the pages, she lived the lessons she read there. She prayed for her family and friends. Mom was faithful to go to church her whole life, but she didn’t just sit in the pew. She served however she could: making soup, filling communion cups, being on committees. And she encouraged her sisters, Sandy and Bev to go to church with her.
Give others the gift of yourself
Mom gave love, kindness, and caring in so many ways. She helped others even if she had something else to do. If someone couldn’t drive, she picked them up and drove them to church or to the market. She baked Christmas cookies and fudge and gave them away. She called people who were alone.
Put your family first
Mom would go without so we kids had whatever we needed. She made sure that there were treats like a candy bar on Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store to get the weekly pasta.Mom opened her home for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and holidays so the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—could be together. She and Daddy took my daughters, Kim and Erin, on vacations to Yosemite and Sequoia. When Erin lived in Hemet, she brought Zach and Katie to Mom’s every week to use the washing machine and take the kids swimming.
Let your children be who they are
Mom encouraged each of her three children. She went to every tap dance recital, Girl Scout badge ceremony, mother-daughter tea, and basketball game. To keep me supplied with the books I craved, she drove me to the library every week. But she didn’t freak out when she realized I went into the bathroom every night after dinner to read and then hid the book in the hamper. She made me stop reading until after the dishes were done though!
Never stop learning and growing as a person
Take risks and venture outside your comfort zone. She traveled with Daddy to the Orient and Europe. When she first moved to Sun Lakes, she took swimming lessons. For twenty years, Mom loved doing aerobics with her friends. At seventy-five, she got a computer and a tablet and kept up with friends and family on Facebook.
Make life-long friends
Mom and her friend, Marilynn, met in elementary school. In their fifties, they started weekend adventures several times a year. When I was in elementary school, Mom and her friend Alice met for coffee every morning after the housework was done. Alice moved to New York fifty years ago, but last month, Mom and Alice chatted by phone. Mom looked forward to her Breakfast Club every Friday, and every year on her birthday showed me all the cards she received, “And not one is a duplicate,” she said with amazement. She loved her newest friend, Laura, deeply. Mom was delighted when she got Laura to eat broccoli and fresh cranberries and watch Call the Midwife. And Mom’s life was enriched by Laura’s care.
Never give up on yourself or others, keep trying
Even in pain, Mom made her bed every morning. She tried chair aerobics when she couldn’t do her regular aerobics any more. She liked reading the paper with a cup of coffee while she enjoyed the beautiful view out her kitchen window. “God is always good,” Mom said constantly. “He’s given me a great life.”
My life is better because of Mom and the lessons she taught me. She never said I needed to know these things; this was how she lived.
Her example and her love will always be with me. They are the best parts of me. The lessons I learned from Mom are gifts I will treasure and use forever.
I call to Him and plead with just His Name. The only word I can manage as I watch pain cause Mom to grimace, even though I can tell from her breathing she’s asleep. Finally. Her arms move up and down in a dance of their own, fingers plucking at the blankets, tubes in her arms and nose.
I ask the Holy Spirit to intercede with unspeakable yearnings and groans too deep for utterance. Comfort Mom. Make her aware of Your Presence, Lord. In the midst of her confusion and pain, may she have peace that passes understanding.
It is hard to watch her suffer. Tears run down my face when the x-Ray tech moves Mom and she cries out. I want to bang on the window and yell, “STOP!”
And I wonder how God stood it when they drove the nails into His Son’s hands and feet. How could He bear seeing His Son hang on the cross, burdened by sins that weren’t His own, so I could be saved? How did He manage the pain while He watched His one and only Son suffer such agony? Did He want to yell, “STOP!”
He could have. He could have intervened. Decided it wasn’t worth it. Decided to rescue Jesus and leave us to the sin we chose.
Instead, He allowed the humiliation and pain to continue. He turned His face away from His Son. Heard Jesus, in despair, ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Why let Jesus suffer? How did God bear it?
Love kept Jesus on the cross.
Love helped God bear the pain.
Love for me and you.
For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life-John 3:16.
The suffering, pain, and agony were endured by Jesus the Son and God the Father because they provided the only way to bring the people He loved into an eternal relationship with Him.
That love–unconditional, indescribable, incomprehensible–gives me hope as I sit at Mom’s bedside, praying.
A God that loves that much, enough to give everything, is trustworthy. Instead of despair, I am filled with hope. While now is painful and hard to watch, I know what the future holds. Joy. Unspeakable joy.
Because of the love of the Father and the Son.
And as I bow my head again, I whisper, “Thank You.”