(A chapter from my book.)
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7, 8)
When we left America on Christmas day, 1991, we knew that our precious friend, our pastor’s wife, was extremely ill with cancer! However, when we had gone into the church office on Christmas Eve afternoon to say “Goodbye!” to her and our dear pastor, she had had such a radiant smile on her face! As we drove away, we had fervently hoped that God was healing her!
The next time that I saw that smile, it was even more glowing and I didn’t see it with my natural eyes! It was on an early Monday morning in March, 1991, that I had awakened from a vivid dream! It had been so beautiful! So real! We were in Tbilisi, Georgia and the presence of the Lord in our bedroom was palpable! Earl also awakened and seeing the tears on my cheeks, he questioned me.
“Lois is in heaven,” I had told him! “I saw her face and it was glowing with the most dazzling smile I have ever seen! She spoke to me and said, ‘It’s OK, Janie! It’s OK! It’s beautiful here!’”, I explained through my tears!
Two days later, we received the email from Pastor John telling us that she had passed away at somewhere around 5 PM on Sunday evening, which would have been our 6 AM Monday morning, in Georgia.
Lois had found out that she had cancer at nearly the same week that we had a strong “call” that we were to leave our home and all that we knew and “go forth to build Christian schools for our Lord.”
After getting the diagnosis that Lois had “inoperable cancer”, Pastor John called us to come to church early for the mid-week service, so that the elders and wives could anoint her with oil and pray.
She came into the church that night and I remember that she sat down a few pews ahead of me. I asked the Lord what I should say to her. He reminded me that I had some “promise cards” in my purse. The first one that I pulled out said, “No matter what you may have to go through in this life, just remember that you have a friend that is praying for you.” As I gave her the card, we embraced and I spoke into her ear these words, “It is just to know Christ. Through the power of His resurrection and fellowship of His suffering…it is just to know Him!” I shall never forget her words to me! “Yes, and Janie, and I am so excited!”
This is what I wrote in my journal on March 2, 1992, the day after Lois’ passing:
“Put upon me your beautiful spotless glorious Robe of Righteousness and give unto me a meek and quiet spirit. I know that we will fail here if we do not let these old natures be crucified and let You, Jesus, dwell in us and do in us and through us what you want done in Tbilisi, Georgia. It seems we made a terrible mistake! But You don’t lie and You don’t make mistakes, so I will believe! I will die! And then, I will begin to really live for You! I must! You will live out and through me, Oh, Blessed Jesus. I love You, Jesus! Heal our bodies and strengthen them and make us wise and understanding.”
Later that same day-“My daughter-do you not feel the comfort of the old wool shawl around your shoulders? (A precious lady that we had met in Moscow had placed the shawl around my neck one extremely cold day and given it as a gift of love.) “This is a symbol of my loving, warm, care over you. Relax and rest in it. Do not fret or grow fearful or anxious in any way. You are My vessel-fit for the Master’s use. Many souls will come to know Me through you in this place. Glory!!”
Then later I wrote-
It’s not the wrinkles or the lack
That causes me to regret time lost.
Instead it is the knowing
I’m not totally dead to self, no matter the cost.
Yes, my outer man is decaying.
But may my inward man be renewed.
To be humble and sweet like my friend Lois.
That it might be said, “Just to please my Lord; this she pursued!”
Oh, teach me how to wait on You, Jesus.
That from strength to strength I will go.
I shall fly like an eagle, if You go before me.
For out of my life Your waters will eternally flow.
The first loss to me came at the tender age of 7 with the death of our beautiful mother. She had been diagnosed with leukemia when I was a baby and told that she had a year at the most to live. But Mother was a fighter and she lived six more years. My wonderful father, 11 year old brother, her parents and thousands of friends felt the loss when she left us for glory that day in March 1951.
Just like I had done everyday since she had gotten too weak to walk much, I ran into her room after arriving home from our one-room school house to tell her about my day in second grade! However, I couldn’t get her awake and became alarmed! Our Godly, paternal grandmother was there and she gently took my brother, Billy, and me to the kitchen where she told us that Mother was not going to wake up here with us, but that she would awaken in Heaven and that she would be perfectly well! I was amazed!
We had been praying for Mother’s healing for so long! I was incredulous that she was really going to be healed! Grandma said that she would have no more pain and be so happy with Jesus! I was trembling with joy and anticipation; not for me, of course, but for our wonderful, dear mother! At that time, there was no sense of loss, only deep peace and a comfort that only the Holy Spirit could give a little girl’s heart at a time like this! I am extremely grateful for the grace that our Lord gave to us all!
We were all around her bed as the doctor told us that it would not be long! Her mother and father on one side, my brother Billy and Daddy standing at the end of the bed, I was there beside her and the doctor was sitting on the bed taking her pulse. Suddenly, she sat straight up in bed; her eyes looking past Daddy were straight and clear. For several weeks, because of her weakness, Mother had not been able to sit up. Also, her eyes had been dreadfully crossed. At that moment, we all knew that she was looking where we could not see and she said clearly, “Yes?” I knew! I think we all knew! She was answering to the call of her name!
“Oh, death, where is your sting?”