I was a horrific friend this week.
Months ago my friend was told there was nothing more medically they could do to treat her cancer. In the last week things progressed rapidly.
As much as I knew I should go see her, I didn't want to, not so soon after watching my other friend, the pastor, wither on hospice and die.
Who would blame me?
Apparently the pastor I took care of would and did.
Since his death, my family has been reading his devotions before bed each night. Last night's devotion was about being merciful and compassionate to others, especially those suffering.
Because I loved and respected my pastor friend so much, his words, with scripture to back them up, cut the way scripture is supposed to.
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
We don't get to choose the hurts that come into our life. We don't get to cast a vote on the timing.
These days require faith.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" Hebrews 11:1.
Lord, I trust You will be with me. I trust You know what You are doing.
When devotions were over I headed to the hospital with prayers for strength and a good visit.
God gave us a GREAT visit.
We sang our favorite psalm, I read the resurrection account and Jesus' words to the thief on the cross: "Today you will be with me in paradise," and Psalm 27: "The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?"
And because tomorrow night marks the beginning of a new year of women's bible study, the study I have picked her up and driven her to these last three years or so, I asked if I should pick her up tomorrow night.
"I don't think I'll be there," she said. "Just honk as you pass the house."
We talked about heaven.
I asked her if she knew my friend, the one who went to heaven a few weeks ago. She didn't.
"I'm not sure if they have nametags," I told her, "But when you find him, tell him I'm ok."
I'm ok with this latest task God has given me. Someone has to minister to the dying. And if he wants to choose the biggest emotional mess this side of heaven and give her unwavering strength just to prove He can, than let Him.
His grace is sufficient.
"Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5.
The morning brought me back to my friend's side, singing her favorite songs with a group of friends. And when she was too weak to keep her eyes open, her lips still moved.
As long as the Lord gives me my wits I will forever remember the image of my friend praising God with what little strength she had. I will remember her taking her young grandson's hand and telling him to keep playing music so he, too, can worship God.
Once again I was reminded the privilege was mine.
There is no greater calling than to be used by God wherever He uses you, for however long he uses you.
And then He calls us home in His perfect timing and His perfect way.
And when I'm on my way home I want to be surrounded by my friends, singing praises and reading the Word.
I want to tell them, "I won't make it to the bible study this week, but you can honk as you go by."