I have been attending Bible Study Fellowship for the past several months and am really enjoying it. It is something I have wanted to do in the past, but because of my schedule I could never seem to be able to take part in it. We are studying the book of Numbers and I am getting so much out of it...more than I thought I would when we first began it.
Yesterday's lecture was from Numbers 20 and the reminder this is truly a chapter of mourning as they dealt with the death of Miriam, Aaron and Moses, but also a message of God's grace. The woman who lectures reminded us the impact sin in our lives causes not only for us but also for others. It affects our influence to others.
I thought of this passage in reference to my own mother. For much of her life she felt the sinful paths she had often taken pulled her away from God. We tried to convince her if she would ask God to forgive her for all of the sins of her past, He would indeed offer her forgiveness and she could be a new creation. She didn't feel worthy of His grace or His love for most of her adult life and it influenced everything she said or did.
As I read Numbers yesterday I was reminded of how God's grace often comes in unexpected ways. In the Bible God's word tells us Aaron, though he had wandered in the wilderness with the grumbling Israelites would actually not take them into the Promised Land. he and Moses had not honored God when they struck the rock to get water instead of just speaking to the rock as God had commanded.
However, God in His great mercy allowed Aaron to see his son take over the priesthood and enabled him to die surrounded by his people. As I sat and read those words I realized this is what God also did for my mom. The last three weeks of her life she was surrounded daily by myself and our children and our grandchildren. She was loved well by us and by the Hospice nurses who treated her with compassion and kindness.
On the Monday before she died our grandson Robert was worried that she would not go to heaven. He came and spoke to her and told her he wanted the assurance he would see her again one day. She told him she felt God would not want her in heaven, but she was certain she would go to hell. With tears running down his cheeks, he said, "No Nana, all you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive you and He will and then we will see you again.
The next day the chaplain from Hospice came in just hours before Mom lapsed into unconsciousness and prayed with her and again reiterated she could indeed be with Jesus for all eternity. After he left she called me to her side and whispered, "tell Robert he can be happy as I will see him again." I didn't know if she was just saying this to give us peace or if she had really had indeed finally surrendered her past to Jesus.
An hour later she lapsed into unconsciousness so all I could do was pray. As I sat by her side over the next two days I prayed...I recited Psalms to her and told her we loved her and Jesus loved her. The evening of her death I remember sitting there knowing she was taking her final breaths and praying she would feel peace while holding her hand. As she drew hew last breath her eyes opened wide and she looked up and was gone.
Forever, I will be grateful for that glimpse of God's grace...of His mercy not only to my mom but also to our family. I wish with all of my heart Mom had understood His forgiveness long before then as I think of how different her life could have been, but always I am so thankful it is never too late as long as we have breath to surrender the past and to hold onto the One whose story will lead us all to the Promised Land.