In the weeks before Tom died, the Lord ministered to me from Psalm 23 about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. At first, I knew we were walking together, Tom and I, hand in hand. Death loomed over us on both sides and cast it's shadow on us, but the valley through which we walked was peaceful and quiet. As we neared the "end", I could see a great, warm light at the other side of the valley. It was the destination to which the valley led. A few days before he died, the Lord showed me that I needed to put Tom's hand in His for the rest of the journey and release him to his Shepherd. That was so hard to do, but he was so weak and so far "gone" that I wanted him to move on quickly and be free of that body of death; so I prayed and saw myself put his hand in Jesus', almost like a father hands over his daughter's hand to her betrothed. In Ezekial 47:1-12, Ezekial had a vision of a river coming out from the temple of God...the river of life. In verse 5, he says that "...the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in - a river that no one could cross." The Lord showed me that Tom had to cross that river and that I couldn't go with him; only the Shepherd Himself could lead him across into Life. And so, on March 12th, just after midnight, Tom and Jesus crossed over that river into Life and death no longer had any hold on him!
Psalm 23 is about going "through" the valley - implying a passage that is entered and exited. It hit me suddenly and hard that only Tom was going to pass "through" and come out the other side ... the kids and I would remain there - in the shadow of death - for quite some time. And so, here we stand in the shadows - our memories.
Last night, I began going through the many cards that others have sent or that were brought to the Memorial Service on Saturday. So many kind and comforting words, memories and sentiments were shared, and again, I was blessed by knowing how much Tom meant to so many people! The printed sentiment on one card, though, seemed to sum up this time and my experience of it. I'd like to share it with you today ...
"The time comes when those whom we have loved the longest and the best will travel far ahead into a place of joy and rest...And we must walk a lonely path through the shadows for a while without a certain kindred voice, a dear, familiar smile ---Yet each day brings us nearer to horizons yet unknown and even when the way is dark, we never walk alone,For memories travel with us toward the happy destination where we will join our loved ones in eternal celebration."