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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Patricia's Story ... A Legacy of Wonder

Hi Friends,

I've just returned from the memorial service of a friend who was such a gift from God to me. Her service, just as her life, was a testimony to the grace and wonder of the God she loved. So, as I grieve and bask in the glow of a life well lived, I wanted to share an excerpt from my latest book, Waiting for Wonder, that talks about Patricia and her legacy of Wonder.

This is from the final chapter:
We become who we really are in the wait. And who we are matters.
            I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve seen it while sitting on a couch next to a friend dying of ALS. I’ve seen it in hands, once nimble, trembling as they barely pecked a computer’s keyboard. I’ve heard it in speech, once clear, once sure, now slurred and halting. I’ve witnessed the truth, the beauty, of a woman who knows how to wait, a woman who changes her world.
            I hadn’t seen her in over a month except across the sanctuary at church. But that day, two friends and I stopped by her house to pray with her. When I walked in the door, I saw that she was thinner than before. And her hug was weaker. But her smile was the same. And her countenance glowed.
            We settled on the couch and asked how she was doing. I expected to hear about how hard it is to live with ALS, about the difficulties of not being able to tie a shoe, button a shirt, type an email, or go on the long prayer-walks she used to love. I’d gone on one of those walks with her and experienced the joy she once took in them. Now she could barely shuffle across the room. I knew I would cry, and I did . . . but not for the reason I’d expected.
            Instead of telling us about the progression of her disease, she asked about me. She asked how was I holding up with Jayden’s new diabetes diagnosis, was I finding time to draw close to God in quietness and solitude, was I able to make space for myself to renew my soul? She told me she had been praying for me. I shared and received her love. Then I received a greater blessing.
            She leaned in, her voice lowered. “I’m so glad you came.” She smiled. “I want to tell you what God has done.” She pulled the computer onto her lap and tapped at it with one shaking finger. Pictures flashed on the screen. Sisters, nieces, relatives who had always been hostile to the love of Christ. She had been praying for them for years, decades, without even the tiniest softening of their hearts toward God. And still she prayed, and waited, and prayed some more. Year after year, decade after decade.
            She pointed to a twenty-something girl on the screen. “You remember my niece? A friend of hers died, and then she heard about my disease. She’s going to church now with that friend’s family. She accepted Christ.” Her face glowed with joy. “And that’s not all. My sister is going to church with her. The sister who wouldn’t even let me talk about God. When she was here visiting me because of my ALS, she asked me if we could go to church.” Then she told us about others who were becoming open to God’s love since her diagnosis. A runaway daughter had come home. Another sibling had been able to talk of God to their aunt. Story after story of loved ones who were opening their hearts to her because of her disease, and so were also opening their hearts to Jesus after years and years of waiting.
            Through this horrific disease, God was moving in ways she’d been praying about for decades. Years of praying and waiting and seeing no movement, and now as ALS ravaged her body and threatened her life, she glowed with the joy of seeing God’s work in the long wait. She was filled with a wonder that ALS could not steal.
            And I wept at the sight of that wonder, the wonder of a faithful servant whose soul was formed in the waiting, a woman dying of ALS and yet filled with such hope that even as her body fails, she glows with the faith of one who knows she’s truly loved.
            And I know that the wait was where the work was done. It was in those years of prayers with no answer that she became this beautiful woman of God, a woman who will leave a legacy of love.
            Not one prayer, not one cry, not one moment of all those years was wasted. God used them all. It all mattered.
            And now God was using the disease that would take her life. And in the midst of it all, she had no regrets. Because when she gave her life to Christ, she meant it. She still does.
         That’s Sarah’s kind of faith. That’s Sarah’s kind of legacy. I am blessed to have seen it. The whole world is blessed.
         That is a life that has waited well. That is a life that changes the world, that blesses the world.

         And I am amazed.