in God’s Own Time
This past weekend my brother in law was taken very sick with an as yet unidentified condition. Although he had refused to go to a doctor for weeks and weeks the family had come to the conclusion that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. He was forgetful of current happenings but remembered past things. He wandered outside and wanted to do the work he had done years ago even climbing on the roof to fix something. He was contrary and argumentative. He worried about someone stealing things from outside or coming in the house-to the extent that he wasn’t sleeping but stayed awake listening.
Then Friday he lay down to rest and fell asleep. He had not wakened up by Saturday afternoon when Helen and their daughters took him to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and a minor blood clot and an unknown condition in his brain, either a tumor they thought or possibly a series of strokes repeating over and over. Poor Helen was distraught. He is now in the hospital in Albuquerque and the prognosis is more positive than I expected. Thank the Lord.
The greatest blessing from this entire ordeal is that I found out just Saturday that Kathryn had had a chance to talk with her dad a few weeks ago and he got saved! What a blessing! As I was rejoicing over this the Lord brought Louie’s death to my mind.
One morning awhile before he died, he came home from work and after his breakfast he went in to bed. I had to go in later for something. When I did I found Louie lying there in bed with tears running down his cheeks. I was alarmed but he said he had just been praying for his family and asking the Lord to somehow bring about their salvation. At this time none of them were saved. A few months later he died.
I was heartbroken, shattered, but there was still a sense of peace. There was a complete assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God. I didn’t know how that was going to happen but I was sure of it. I saw no way it could come for ‘good’ and yet the Bible promised me that. We had a funeral here for him and then the body was sent to Gallup for burial in Rock Springs.
Brother McCormick, “McCormick” to all of the community, preached the funeral service and I asked him to please have an interpreter for it. So many of the community spoke poor English and in some cases very little at all, Louie’s mom especially. It was important to me and would have been to Louie that everyone have this single guaranteed opportunity to hear the gospel.
McCormick used two texts for the message. Psalms 101:1-4: I WILL sing of mercy and loving-kindness and justice; to You, O Lord, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely and give heed to the blameless way–O when will You come to me? I will walk within my house in integrity and with a blameless heart. I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the work of them who turn aside [from the right path]; it shall not grasp hold of me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil person or thing. I don’t remember his comments on this text at all. I remember best his comments on the second text. It was II Samuel 12:14-23 about how David’s child was taken from him by the hand of God for David’s sin. While the child was sick David fasted and prayed and humbled himself before God to the extent that his servants feared for his sanity and safety when they had to tell him that the boy had died. But when they gave David the news he got up from the floor where he had been prostrate praying. He washed himself and put on clean clothes and went into the Lord’s house to worship. (How beautiful was that!) Then he came back home and called for food to eat.
When his servants asked him why he was acting this way when the boy was dead but while he was merely sick he had been beside himself and prostrate before God. David answered, and this was the crux of the message, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live? 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me. That was McCormick’s message of salvation to the family and community gathered for the service; Louie is gone from us, but he is with the Lord. All we can do is prepare to go and meet him.
The Navajo have the custom of mourning their dead for three days; then on the morning of the third day they bathe and put on clean clothes and put away the mourning. It blesses me that in every situation God has prepared the way for His Truth to go out. How many thousand years ago did He prepare the happenings in David’s for this very day and this very message to reach our Navajo family gathered there with me that morning! For how many hundreds of years had He prepared this traditional ceremony, although not really a Christian ritual, to allow the opportunity for witness of His love? I never thought of that until this very moment. How can we ever conceive of God’s forethought and planning! My heart is absolutely thrilled.
The day after the funeral Mom said that the ‘three days’ had already been accomplished since the death and been nearly ten days before. Since we had all grieved for those days, she said we should do the ceremony then. So when the family gathered for the traditional washing and prayer I was able to relate to them how they were doing the same thing that McCormick just talked about David doing. I was able to say that Louie, as much as we loved him, was gone from us to be with the Lord and we could only get ready to go and meet him.
And now, thirty years, later I have come to see the fruition of his death! I saw no blessing in his dying when it happened. In my human mind it would have seemed better for him to remain as a witness. But God, in His infinite understanding and planning, had a better purpose! Today I see all of those who have been drawn to the Lord through Louie’s prayers and sacrifice.
The first was his niece who got saved and drew her common law husband into the church to the extent so that they were formally married even after they already had several kids together. They were married as a testimony to their intent to follow the Lord in their life. Then, and I don’t think I have my sequence right, but that isn’t of any great importance in God’s grand scheme of things, then Louie’s mother died and trusted the Lord to take care of her, calling for McCormick and a Navajo pastor to pray for her refusing the Native American priest. Then Louie’s nephew and his wife were saved and donated land for a little modular church building. Helen has trusted the Lord for several years and now, here is the word that Leonard has gotten saved!
How could I ever grieve that my husband had to die? Why should I have grieved when God has answered his prayer so wonderfully? It seems a long time in human years, but as nothing in God’s Time, but look at the astonishing results! And I don’t believe the blessings are over yet.