A greeting card sits in my purse, the worn envelope still sealed as it has been for a few years now. The address is beginning to fade, but each line is familiar after years of addressing the envelopes almost every week. This was my last letter written to a dear friend and woman of the faith which I never got to send. Today, I took time to sit back and remember her. Kathy challenged me, encouraged me, and forever made a mark on my life. For the years that I knew her, she could not talk, walk, or freely move on her own. The tandem of MS and ALS took so much from the very active lifestyle she lived for years, but she never gave up her faith, and she could host the presence of God like no one I had ever met. Her life was devoted to worship and prayer, and I was always humbled to be included in those prayers.
When I was in college, I had the privilege of taking my lunch hour at least once a week to go and visit with her with a small group of my classmates. We would talk to her, sing, and visit with her. The time went all too quickly. After I graduated and moved back home, Kathy and I continued to keep in touch. One of the highlights of my week was picking out a new card or two for her, writing her a letter and mailing it to her. I did this almost every week for several years. When I would visit, I would see the cards she had received hanging throughout the room on walls and tables. As the illness took away Kathy’s ability to speak, she utilized a voicebox which she could control with a sensor and her eyes or slight movement of her head. It would take a lot of focus, and a significant amount of time and energy for Kathy to use this box to write even a single sentence. Knowing the time and difficulty invested in this task, in part, is why the conversations she shared and the emails I keep from her are held so dear. When she wrote, she would speak of the goodness of the Lord in her life, and would encourage me in my walk and faith.
One such conversation, Kathy told me of a song called, “My Deliverer is Coming” sung by Rich Mullins. This song and CD would at times play on repeat through her house. She believed every word. In the midst of MS and ALS, with all control and physical ability slowly being stripped from her, Kathy believed that her deliverer was coming. I watched and heard as the treatments she was receiving allowed her to begin moving her legs again and regain some movement, she was progressing and astounding the doctors. We all continued to pray and believe for her healing…
In Luke 22:14-20, Jesus shares the last supper with his disciples:
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
“Do this in remembrance of Me…”
What Jesus asks his disciples to do in his remembrance is a sacrament that points to a foundation of the Christian faith – the cross. In 1 Corinthians 11:26, it says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” This speaks to this sacrament, and this remembrance pointing not only to the cross and the death of Jesus, but also to the present participation we have with him through faith, and finally, “till He comes” – pointing to the second coming of Christ. As we still today share this communion in remembrance of Jesus, we share in the pledge of His return.
Our deliverer is coming.
As we remember what the Lord has done for us, we wait in anticipation for our deliverer to come. This remembrance is different than a memory experienced or simply told to you, because it is not bound by time. This remembrance exists looking back at the work Jesus did on the cross, looking in the present where we participate through faith, and then looking ahead in hope for the second coming of Christ.
I was there the day Kathy’s deliverer came to take her home and free her from the MS and ALS which for years held her body captive, but could not touch her spirit or shake her faith. The letter I never had a chance to send still sits in my purse as a reminder of her life. I remember the time, prayers, and encouragement which Kathy invested in me for those years, and in honor of her memory, I write a letter every month to someone else in hopes that my prayers and words and testimony shared speak to their heart, and in turn, encourage them in their faith-walk and to hold to the hope we have that our deliverer is coming.