“Keep on loving one another…” Hebrews 13:1
Let me first apologize once again for the lack of a blog the past two weeks. I traveled from DC to South Carolina twice in two weeks to assist my brother and sisters in caring for my 89 year old mother, in what became her last days. She passed quietly into eternity on Tuesday, July 25 at 1:30pm EDT. My wife, Sandra and I had just taken over the “watch” from my brother and his wife, who were headed back to help in post -operative care for their daughter and grandson.
My mother was with me on March 17, 2011 when my father passed away early that morning. We had spent the entire night singing, praying, and reading scriptures of hope and heaven to him. At one point, she turned to me, and with a look of deep conviction, asked me to do the same in her final hours. Two weeks ago, I was spending the night at Charlotte Medical Center while staying with my mother following a surgical procedure to set her broken femur. While we were together, I advised her many elderly people do not recover following such a devastating event, and asked her what she would want her funeral to look like if God did choose to take her. After some gentle coaxing she shared with me her wishes which were completely followed at her memorial service.
On her last day on earth, Sandra and I entered the room and immediately began singing scripture songs, hymns, etc., while praying and reading those scriptures out loud. After only twenty minutes of this, I was led to speak to my mother, telling her if someone (like my dad, a loved one, or even Jesus) was there reaching out to welcome her into heaven that she had our blessing to take that hand, and we would be just fine. My sister, Mary, arrived shortly after with her two grandkids. Mary and I became involved in setting up a Pandora station of old hymns, when my mother suddenly opened her eyes – though only for a millisecond. I made some corny remark like, “O, look! She’s taking a look at her adorable son.” I immediately followed the remark with, “Wait! I think she just took her last breath.” After notifying the nurse’s station, her nurse came in and checked her, informing us that the heart was in its final faint efforts to beat. A minute or two later, the nurse pronounced her dead, and I informed my sisters and brother.
I was in awe of how quickly and quietly the event happened. The bible tells us that we will all be changed in a moment… in the twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed (1 Co. 15:52-58). Though the passage is specifically describing the return of Christ, it also seems to describe my mother’s final moments. You see, she had not opened her eyes for two days, and in that moment, I believe she was experiencing her last vestige of earthly life as her new eyes were seeing a glorious heaven, and those gathered around her to welcome her. It is all a part of how God loves us… and how He provides His grace during such moments. My mother knew very well God’s saving grace. God had provided her many years of living grace, sustaining her through hardship, heartache, and the hectic pace of caring for her many children. Then, in her final moments, God graciously supplied her with His dying grace. It was such a sacred moment.
We are to love each other just as persistently, just as devotedly, just as sacrificially, just as enduringly as God loves us. The writers of Hebrews describe several ways on how to love one another:
1. As brothers and sisters. (v.1) I don’t know about you, but my brother and sisters fought like cats and dogs when we were children. However, when we became adults we put aside our childish ways and really learned how to demonstrate love to each other.
2. Through kind hospitality to strangers. (v.2) This verse informs the Believer, that there may be times we would be doing so to angels, though without knowing it.
3. Visit those imprisoned, empathizing in their suffering. (v.3) How would you feel if you were behind bars and no-one came to visit you?
4. Love your spouse with purity. Live with the knowledge that there will be an accounting for our actions… you see, it’s not just about what we believe… it’s about how we behave.
5. Love your church by honoring your spiritual servant-leaders who instruct you in The Word. (v.’s 11-17) By following this exhortation, their work will be a joy – not a burden.
There are a few significant five-word phrases that I would like to give your attention to:
- “…the marriage bed kept pure…” (v.4)
- “…God will judge the adulterer…” (v.4)
- “…Never will I leave you…” (v.5)
- “…never will I forsake you.” (v.5)
- “The Lord is my helper…” (v.6)
- “…I will not be afraid.” (v.6)
- “Jesus Christ is the same…” (v.8)
- “Have confidence in your leaders…” (v.17)
- “…they keep watch over you…” (v.17)
- “Grace be with you all.” (v.25)
I’ve enjoyed our journey through Hebrews. I hope you have, as well. Next week, we will begin a journey through the three letters of John.
Blessings to all,