Raymond Arthur Waugh, Sr.
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Some years ago, I was privileged to be very near and very close to my beloved wife during the final years, months, days and moments of her earthly life. Since she had been a most dedicated and committed Christian from the time of her redemption as a young lady in a missionary Baptist Church in East Texas in 1935, she was very confident of the truth of the Word of God and the eternal provision that Jesus had made for her both for time and for eternity.
Consequently, when her eyes could no longer focus, and she was no longer able to read the Word of God that she loved, she delighted to have me read especially from portions of the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John wherein the love of God for His own is so very prominent, and from the Psalms. Then, at times she wanted to hear again and again about the glory that is ahead for all of us whose faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
She was perfectly content with the reality that God had a purpose in her sickness, and that it would be all for her good because of His love for her and because of her love for her Savior. At times, she would lie back in bed and say in effect, "Is it not wonderful just to be able to rejoice in Him and to wait in faith." As a result, we often would rejoice and then rejoice again in the wonder of the truth:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Romans 8:28-30).
Occasionally, we would come across some so-called Christian radio or Christian TV program wherein some supposed man of God, preacher, or pastor was appealing for people to send in their prayer requests on the pretext that these men had a better access to God, and that they could act as intermediaries between God and men and cause God to effect healing, prosperity, or worldly ease. Even in her dying condition -- some of which was interspersed by hepatic comas -- she was able to recognize all such ungodly men as frauds. In fact, more and more, as the long days and the sometimes even longer nights came and went, she became more and more conscious that she had immediate access into the very presence of God, knowing that very soon she would be fellowshipping and conversing with her Savior personally.
Just one time, during all of the agonizing four and a half years when morphine and dilaudid could not ease her pain, she asked me to pray that our Lord would take her on home to heaven. Thankfully, I was able to explain to her that I could not do this as her departure was best left in the love, the wisdom, and the purposes of God. She never broached the subject again. And, in the hour of her passing, we saw the wisdom and the purposes of God.
Throughout her long ordeal, she had one continuing prayer; namely, that she might witness effectively to each one of the many who came to visit and to work with her. She was wonderfully successful in every instance except for one. One of her nurses that worked only with terminal cases was a Mormon who was always so professional that my wife was never able to witness to her during the last two and a half years of her life.
Thankfully, however, one of the dear ladies who expected to be here during my wifes final moments had to leave to pick up her children. The Mormon lady came then, and was here when my Beloved took her last little breath and went into the presence of Jesus. She was in the presence of my dying wife as my eldest son and I, along with my youngest, rejoiced in that moment and gave thanks to God for her life, for her testimony, and for her presence then with Jesus.
We were never able to obtain a positive response from the dear Mormon lady who was there at the moment of her death. Soon, thereafter, however, this very delightful, mature, efficient Mormon lady nurse took on other responsibilities in the community that precluded experiences such as she had with our little family. I, personally, have had one additional occasion to see her in her new responsibility, and she again, however, made it very clear that she did not want any extraneous conversation. I wonder, even now, however, whether she may yet be living in the consciousness of the heavenly reality that was ours around three Oclock on the 17th of February, 1982?
Satan, needless to say -- death being our last enemy -- means for death to be a very dark experience for all who must participate. Thankfully, however, for all who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ death is not darkness. Rather, it is brightness. In that moment when the saints of God pass from the darknesses of this worlds trouble, trials, and tragedies, they go immediately into the very present of God and among the saints of all of the ages.
In a very dark human moment, in the distant past, there was much weeping because of the death of the man, Lazarus. Jesus so delayed His visit to the grave of Lazarus, that everyone would be able to know that he had not swooned or fainted. Then, it was in the very presence of dead Lazarus that Jesus had some wonderful words to share with the grieving sisters of Lazarus. To them, at that moment, death was a time of great darkness and a time for hopeless weeping.
Thankfully, Jesus had a totally different approach. For Him, the death of Lazarus was an opportunity and a time for testimony and for witness. Therefore, we find Jesus saying to grieving and distraught Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead; yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die . . ." (John 11:25-26). There, in the very presence of death and in the presence of all of those friends and loved ones who knew that Lazarus was dead, Jesus said, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die . . ."
This, I believe, is the message that David is attempting to get us to understand in the words, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). This was the confidence to which my dear wife held throughout her dying years, months, days, and moments. She knew that when she closed her eyes for the last time here upon the earth, she would open them in the brightness of heavens Glory. It was her momentary and her continuing desire that she might convince all with whom she came into contact of this wondrous truth.
Many, many years after David had expressed himself so wisely, a thief was justly dying by crucifixion for crimes that he had committed. Yet, in the midst of his agony and the tragedy of his experience, this malefactor recognized that Jesus was innocent of any crime, though He was dying with the guilty. This one expressed his repentance with these words to the other dying thief, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:40-41).
And then to Jesus, the repentant thief cried, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42). The response of Jesus was immediate, just as it is when we pray in faith even today. We learn that Jesus said to this repentant thief, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). So, that moment which may have seemed to be very dark for the dying thief there on one of the crosses at Calvary really and actually took on the brightness to which Jesus had directed the heart of Martha when He said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die . . ." (John 11:26).
Thankfully and wonderfully, all of us who have ever "believed on the Son" (John 3:36) and all who have "confessed that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh . . ." (I John 4:2) can be assured that we will never die. In the midst of the darkness that men reference as death, we have the assurance of the brightness that we shall never die. There may come a moment when we close our mortal eyes in a last human sleep, but we shall immediately thereafter open them in the realms of Glory with the Father and the Son at His Right Hand, and in the midst of all of the saints of all of the ages.
So, in the midst of the darknesses of this past year, and in the midst of the darknesses of the present year, we who have believed on the son of God have everlasting, eternal, endless life. Though we may struggle in the process of our living, recognizing as Job of old that "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1), still every day we get just a little closer to our home in that Heavenly City.
There, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall be any more pain; for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4). There, all darkness will be forever past. We have the assurance, that in that City, we shall have "no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Revelation 21:23). There, we shall experience the wonder of the beauty of "them he also justified; and whom He justified, then he also glorified" (Romans 8:30)
We shall dwell and abound in the brightness of Heavens Glory!
We may think on the dark side, but we live on "The Bright Side"!
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