Galena, Alaska is over 3,000 miles away from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Yet by God's gentle grace I was able to make that distance so that I could spend five precious days with a remarkable woman. She's my mawmaw, my father's mother. When asked what has been the hardest part about making bush Alaska home, it isn't the cold, nor the darkness, nor the cost of living. It has been the heartache of being so far away from family when health fails. Since living in Galena, Shell and my's families have had some tremendous health issues. And we've been 3000 miles away. When my grandfather died I was boarding a plane in Anchorage to come see him.
I did not want to experience that with my mawmaw. As I fly back to Galena I leave her behind. Walking out of her hospice room was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. The next time I see her it will just be a shell. Not the glory of the once vibrant tenatious Christ loving woman she has been. And this breaks my soul. Yet there is not grief without hope. She and I openly wept as we said good bye but as she spoke a blessing over me I was reminded again that In Christ death is swallowed up in victory. Her name is Lois and I am a living Timothy.
2Timothy 1:4-7 encourages me today as I read "As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
No fear of death lays upon the heart of a disciple of Jesus. Grief, sorrow, mourning, pain, and loss may be acutely present, but not fear. As she lives with a beautiful smile and prays for every nurse, doctor, and visitor, she fans into flame the gift given to her. And I pray her example would give to you what it gives to me. Unshakable hope in the faithfulness of Christ.