Monday, February 05, 2007
The bravest person I've ever known has gone to be with the Lord. Timothy was a 13-year-old boy at our church who battled cancer for 5 years. I got to know the family a little when their youngest daughter, Rebekah, was in my 3-year-old Sunday School class. Rebekah told me many times about her "bubba" and how he was sick. My heart goes out to her as I know she is missing her bubba today.
I don't have the words to express how wonderful Timothy's spirit was during this whole ordeal. I'm just going to reprint what his dad wrote in a recent email. This was written during Timothy's final stay in the hospital.
Thursday, 1/25/07, 10:00am: Timothy is awake and fairly alert, eating breakfast with shaky hands, needing very little assistance. Over the next minute or two, as he, Kay Ann, and I are talking, Timothy's body slowly—but steadily—slumps, his thoughts and words drift, his voice shakes, he speech becomes slurred. His spoon flails aimlessly at the mashed potatoes he's trying to eat. Suddenly his eyes roll slightly in two different directions and his head lists far to one side. I rise from my chair, take the spoon from his hand, gently press my cheek against his, and whisper some calming words—hopefully a lifeline of reality and assurance he can hang onto. In the minute or so that follows, my emotions begin to swell and I tell Timothy (as I have so many times before) how much we love him and are proud of him. No response. My emotions continue to swell. I tighten my hug, press the check just a bit more and whisper some "sweet nothings" into Timothy's ears. Still no response. I say, "Timothy, are you coherent?" Seconds pass without a response. I say again, "Timothy are you coherent?". After a few more seconds, eyes still closed, head still listing, Timothy responds, "Piiiiink Flamiiiiiingos!" My cheek still pressed against his, I said "WHAT?" then I backed away to check out the bigger body language picture. At that, Timothy suddenly and literally bolted to life, eyes wide open and said, "HA! Just kidding! Got you, Dad!" The momentary fade was real. The recovery just as real. The final punchline... all Timothy.
Some verses about our heavenly destination have become dear over the past months. We learn specific things about life on the other side from Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 6:9-11, II Cor. 4:16-18 & 5:10, to list only a few. We've also been reading the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn and I strongly recommend you lay hold of a copy. There are many other verses about heaven we've shared together as a family and more specifically with Timothy. I'd like to share insights, but now is not the time.
I asked Timothy what words he would have for us should he be promoted. He thought for a moment, then replied, "See ya on the other side." We endure with joy our ministry for a few short years on this earth and look forward to meeting up with many of you "on the other side."
A most important footnote. Having spoken with him this morning, Timothy wants each of you to know, as he knows, the certainty of your salvation and position in heaven after death. In his words, it is "unacceptable for you not to join him someday for a reunion in heaven." At Timothy's' concurrence and for those of you who may not know for certain if heaven will someday be your permanent home, we encourage you lay hold of the free gift bought and paid by Jesus on the cross as is so well described in John 3:16 and other verses listed below.
If any truth has been gored into my soul through this trial, it is the absolute zero worthlessness of our ability to be righteous before God and earn heaven on the basis of our works. Take Timothy as an example. The suffering of the innocent for something he, from a parent's perspective, does not deserve. The cancer is deadly, the treatments (like our attempts to work our way to heaven), though well-meaning, ultimately bring hurt without cure. So as the chemo, such are our attempts to earn heaven. God has recognized the insufficiency of our works to achieve the standard of perfection for His heaven (Rom. 3:23).
Take Jesus—the only true innocent, out of love for His created mankind and need to atone for and cover sin, voluntarily humbling himself, becoming obedient to the suffering of the cross, momentarily forsaken while bearing the wrath of God, taking the full penalty of our sin on His broken body... that "whosoever believes on Him (His sacrificial work on the cross), should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Now imagine man's rejection of that painful, humiliating sacrifice to pursue a life of works to gain the favor of God and ultimate entrance to heaven. If I were Jesus (humanly speaking), I'd be hacked watching children I've created and loved, literally to death, ignoring the high price I just paid while trying to be good enough to earn heaven. It was the very fact that man was and is hopelessly lost in sin that Jesus decided to pay the penalty by death (Rom. 3:10-20 & Rom. 5:8).
Take a few minutes to read the following verses: John 3:16; John 5:24; John 6:40; Romans 3:9-28; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:1-10; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5,6; II Cor. 5:21. Also, see I John 5:10-13. Note in verse 13 the ability of one to "know that you have eternal life." If you believe that God loved you so much that He gave Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and you, by faith, by confession of your mouth by prayer (Romans 10:9), you may be assured of your position of heaven at death... thanks to Jesus. Free gift. Can't be earned, can't be lost. Accept the free gift today.