Written Oct. 4, 2014

A week ago my dear friend died in the night, confident in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus and eager for Him, her Best Friend, to return in the clouds. Only two weeks ago I was sitting on her bed, holding her hand and watching church. She rejoiced with the angels as we watched the baptism of one of her international grandchildren. She was able to watch her missionary son officiate. Very quickly her body transitioned and within the next week she was gone. Useful for God to the very last breath.

I miss my friend Claudia. My children and I loved her dearly. Several times this summer she took them to the zoo and out to eat and let them explore her country home. Often her husband Nick sent garden produce home with them at the end of the day. The last outing was just over month ago. She was deciding whether to continue chemo treatments and called to see if she could help me by taking the kids for me. I am still in shock by her thoughtfulness of us when she knew her days were limited. Days… Little did we know that her doctors would be so accurate in their estimation. ONE month to six months, they had told her. That’s a small number between thirty and one hundred-eighty. As far as I know my life is still being measured by years, not days. That next Sabbath my imagination was attune to what it must be like to have only one month to live. What would I do? Where would I be? And with whom would I spend that time? What would I think about? What would my prayers be like?

From Claudia’s bedside her family relayed their thankfulness for the prayers and loving support that had been extended to them. Included was the remarkable message that they were praying for US.

Prayer. An activity of connection with our God, the one constant that remains when my world or body is falling apart. The practice of prayer becomes second nature, as regular as breathing, until the last breath given. The benefits continue, too. Empowered by heaven and taken to the furthermost corners of the planet, our prayers make a difference in people’s lives. We can pray for anyone. We can pray for the celebrity on TV whose life seems out of control. We can pray for people in Africa who are working around deadly epidemics, like Ebola. Children in Asia who are trapped by sinister schemes need our prayers. Praying can benefit the high school student who bags our groceries, the driver of an injured vehicle we pass, the parents of a student we see waiting for a tardy slip, or even the one who shares our bed.

I awoke revitalized after a night of much tossing and turning. Thankfulness permeated my thoughts. I realized I had been aware enough to have been earnestly praying for the past several hours, but not filled with typical pain in my restlessness. It was as if I was called to intercede and pestered just enough to keep me going. My faith strengthens when I pray. I believe God will work His best and I take delight in cooperating with Heaven. Perhaps I will send a little note or text or even seek out a hug for the ones that came to mind in the night. For others, quiet continuing prayers may be the most appropriate.

Later today I will walk in a lily-stenched lobby and sign a thick guestbook, pause before a montage of personal momentos of my friend, and stifly shuffle into a packed church. My eyes will leak and my heart will pound and I might even laugh a little at a funny story someone may share about my friend. No doubt someone will mention Claudia’s prayers and how they were of great benefit to many around the globe.

Claudia and I prayed together years ago when her cancer returned for the second time. She loved being active for the Lord and didn’t want Satan to thwart any of God’s plans for her life. I prayed God would “use her up” for Him until the very last. With humbled awe I realize that our family was one of the last she helped. When I think of the special times my boys had with her, I am so thankful. Telling them she was dying was not easy, but my 6-year-old was quick to respond. “I’m going to be just like Aunt Claudia. I will take people to the zoo. I love Jesus and I will help people all my life.”

This morning he crawled up beside me and asked what I was writing. I told him how I had been tossing and turning in the night but that I had enjoyed praying for people. “Maybe people have been praying for YOU.” He looked up at me with a sweet, early-morning smile and added. “I have been, too.”

See also: claudiaparks.blogspot.com