(This entry was inspired by a posting I did on my friend Pat's Facebook profile. Pat died about 6 weeks ago, but her profile is still up and when I see it I often get to thinking. It's just been on my mind.)
I've known Pat for many years through our church. I knew her to be a happy woman who loved her Lord, family, church and gardening. I am ashamed to admit that while she was alive I didn't necessarily think she would list these items in this order. Being on staff at my church for a while I was often aware of promises people would break to help with this or that ministry and it made me pretty bitter. I know myself, I am a terrific flake. Because of this I think I had trouble appreciating what Pat DID do without thinking about what she didn't do. After all, point the finger elsewhere before it is pointed at me, right? This is in no way intended to critic my friend, but instead myself. I never just looked at her and was grateful for what she did give.
I didn't get to go to her funeral so I feel strange thinking of her as dead. But when I go to church and see the roses she recently trimmed starting to grow, I feel she is gone. I also can't help but see how dedicated she was to taking care of our church campus. She used her gifts to honor God's as best as she could. What right did I have to expect more? Can I say the same about myself? An emphatic no!
She is also helping me to grasp a bit of the reality of heaven. It is not some mythical place, but an actual place of reward for those who love Jesus. Pat loved Jesus. Now she is seeing Jesus face to face-physical and literal!, learning things about God we will never know until we go there, and singing "Holy holy holy" to God without getting tired or losing her voice. She is now the person God always intended her to be, without the side affects of life's hardships, the learned insecurities or fears and without the physical problems that shaped her daily life. I cannot be sad for her. I can't help but be happy for my friend.
So Pat, thank you for all you did. You are with Jesus RIGHT NOW! How freaking cool is that?