As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained an understanding of the value of the “visitation” time with a bereaved family. I love just standing around talking about the loved one who is no longer with us. Sometimes in daily life people avoid talking about the person–I guess in fear of bringing up sad memories–but for most of us it’s just the opposite. We enjoy telling stories and talking about the person’s life.
Such it was at the visitation for Holly. After I met her grandparents, brother, uncles, and cousins, I stood closer to the entrance to meet visitors without interfering with the family. I would often introduce myself and ask their connection to Holly. It was fascinating to see reactions. Some pulled away; others got closer to talk about our mutual loss.
One group that entered was from the McDonald’s where Holly most recently worked. They wanted to talk about her last day at work–the day before she died–and what a shock her death was.
One lady, in particular, was obviously deeply grieved by her death. “I had some extra things to take home with me, and she walked me home that afternoon so I wouldn’t have to make another trip to get my things,” she said. “She always loved being helpful.”
I agreed. I could tell, however, that she had more to say. She drew closer.
“Something really bothers me, though,” she confided. “In all that time I knew Holly and we were such good friends, I never talked to her about Jesus. Do you know–was she saved?”
“Yes, she was,” I said firmly. “I was there when she was baptized and she was so joyful afterwards. She loved God and Jesus.”
She turned to her sister with glowing, misty eyes. “She was saved!” she said. “I don’t need to worry about her soul anymore.” Her sister beamed also.
For me, this was a cautionary tale: we need to talk to our friends about Jesus and not put it off.
But my daughter-in-law, from whom I often get wise advice, saw it differently. She said we must not beat ourselves up when it’s too late to reach someone; God’s Providence sends others to fill in the gap so our friends will know about Jesus. It’s not in our power to reach everyone we know, but it is in God’s power to send the Word to every person. Then it’s up to that person to respond, positively or negatively.
Holly was one who responded positively. She loved Bible stories, and she asked me if she could be baptized without any prompting from me. She loved God and prayed a lot. He loved her, and once, as I was desperately praying for her, He assured me, “I’ve got her.” That was some time ago, but the message was clear.
Now He really does have her. Thank you, God.