Many years ago I found myself as a new young pastor in a small church in Eastern Canada. I soon learned that I didn’t know much about ministry or how to trust in the Spirit to lead and guide my ministry. I made loads of mistakes, upset a few people, and bumbled along to the best of my ability. But, during those five years I made some awesome friends who made ministry fun, rewarding, exciting and successful.
One of those people was Heather. I met her through mutual friends who I met through some other mutual friends. Heather and Ruth hit it off right away and along with their friend Kathy they brought sunshine, laugher and music into the lives of all their friends. Heather, Ruth, Kathy, Daryl, Bob, Jack, Kevin and Ed, besides being good friends, were also the musical backbone to our little but growing church family. Many an evening I spent listening to Heather sing and play piano as the group practiced or just hung out making music. Later we would just sit around talking, eating popcorn and Kathy’s amazing Whoopi Pies or playing crazy senseless games that made us role on the floor in laughter.
Heather passed away Wednesday and with her passing there is a hole in my heart, for not only did I lose a good friend, but also a personal sense of loss that transported me back to a wonderful and exciting time in my life. Yet I can only travel back there now in my mind because one of the nicest most caring people I ever knew is no longer here share those memories.
Howard Hughes was one of the richest men in America and when he died he left a truckload of money, but he left no legacy. It is said only two people showed up for the funeral. Heather has left for those of us who love her an amazing legacy of memories and love.
I sat by her the other day and asked her how things were spiritually with her and she answered me that God and her were fine. She told me that she believed Christianity was not about Churches and such, but about knowing Jesus in the heart and allowing Jesus to guide and lead in your life. I couldn’t argue with that.
Christianity is only so many words until you come face to face with some crisis in life then it becomes real and an amazing source of comfort and support. It is easy to cry out against God about the injustice of facing pain and life draining illness, but it takes real courage to say, “I trust God regardless of the storms in my life.”
Heather faced life with a smile and lived it as a Christian, she faced death like we all would with sorrow. No one wants to leave their loved ones, friends and dreams but when the time came she did not shirk back but faced it like a warrior. She had the assurance of eternal life and when she opens her eyes she will see Jesus face to face.
Non-Christians mock and criticize our belief in God, but the reality is that when they come to the end of their life they have nothing—just emptiness. When their loved ones pass away there is a finality to it that leaves people feeling broken and helpless. When their eyes are closed for the last time, that is it, it is lights out. Loved ones may mourn, weep and struggle with bitter lost but they cannot change a single thing.
We Christians have no fear of death because it holds no power over us because we have been purchased back from sin, Satan and death by the substitutionary death of Jesus. We know that since Jesus has been resurrected that we too will be resurrected to live forever. We will see our loved ones who have died in Christ once again. Life for a Christian is not the be all – end all that it is for our modern culture, but instead is seen as a stage of life. Our faith is in the after life and eternity in the presence of Jesus our Savior.
I will see Heather again and as my friend Kevin says I will give her a big brotherly hug. I rejoice that Heather and I are Christians and this is not the end of our friendship because death holds no power over those who are in Christ Jesus.