Cynthia has just gone

After a sunny and cloudy, windy and cold, achingly beautiful April day, Cynthia breathed her last and danced into the presence of the Lord. The hospice nurse called me after 7 PM and said, ‘Drive carefully but come right away’. When we arrived three good friends were sitting with her; they left as we surrounded her bed. I was able to talk her through her last 30 minutes on this earth, reassuring her yet again that we would be OK, that she could leave behind all her back pain and allergies and arthritis, and that her dear Dad Howard was waiting for her . . . he who studied light all his life would have even more to tell her about it now, having lived in absolute Light since his passing in 2003.

Weeks ago I was crying out “It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this!” We had first fallen in love exactly 40 years ago, in the time of the lilacs blooming in Illinois in 1972. As soon as that cry rang from my heart, I heard the echo of the first time it had sounded: when God Himself cried it out as Adam and Eve left the Garden, and the blight of death and destruction started to spread over and through all of Creation.

No, it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this: evil and selfishness and nasty diseases that spring out of nowhere and destroy precious people were NOT part of His plan. But we know that our Redeemer lives, and that His love triumphs over death.

Since I wrote yesterday about His terrible love, I realized that although literally thousands of people were praying for Cynthia to be healed and to stay here, the Lord Himself was jealous for her to be in His presence. I have often taught, too glibly, that God’s love is infinite; but what that means right here and now, for me, is that His love for Cynthia outweighs all of our prayers . . . His love is dense beyond our imagination.

Many of you have also heard me teach this principle: “When we pray, we are trusting God; when He doesn’t answer, He is trusting us.” God Himself has entrusted us with unanswered prayers for Cynthia. He is trusting us to go on trusting Him, and to follow Him not because of what He does for us or what we would want Him to do; but to follow because He is God, and we are not.

By His grace, we are trusting Him, and at peace in His sovereign decision to not answer our prayers. We do not understand; but as we have trusted, we have peace. Phil prayed a beautiful prayer after Cynthia’s passing; Amy and Alice are in peace too.

Dear ones, the Lord Himself has entrusted us with unanswered prayers, and that is an immense privilege. Cynthia trusted Him until the end, and on through it. And now she no longer sees through a glass darkly, but face to face.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Tom, for Phil, Amy and Alice

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Cynthia’s last day on earth

Steve and Marie Goode had to leave this morning to return home to Bangkok, and we had tearful goodbyes as they hugged us all and left to continue to do what God has called them to do.

I said to Marie, ” You were here when she needed you the most; and when we needed you the most. You have fulfilled your assignment; now go in peace.”

The old English word ‘godsend’ now has several new layers of meaning for me, each time I think of Steve and Marie; and of all the others who have stepped up in this situation, in so many ways and from near and far. These past weeks Cynthia’s room has been one of the most wonder-full and awe-full (original sense of the word) places on earth: full of joy and laughter, at any sign she hears and recognizes who is there; praise, as we sing with her; prayer, as different ones pray as they are led; deep fellowship, as friends who haven’t seen each other in many years meet again; new meetings, as people hook up (“How did you meet Cynthia?”), especially with her dear sister Alice; tears and intense pain, as we see her ravaged by this dread disease; and above all else, love. The terrible and sometimes incomprehensible love of God . . . it remains love, but incredibly more intense and fiercely jealous than we can imagine. I have so often prayed Ephesians 3.14-21 for our UofN students and staff, and for myself above all; but I never imagined that this is one of the ways my prayers would be answered.

Overnight there had been a deterioration in Cynthia’s condition and we arrived early this morning to find that the nurses had provided her with some oxygen being directed into her mouth from a small tube. This was to help her with her breathing which had become much more laboured. Her time here is short . . . .

Thank you for all your prayers,

Tom, with help from Elaine Leakey, for Philip, Amy and Alice