Clash of the Worlds: Peace in the Midst of Storms
Continued from Safe in Elohim's Protective Care
Down in that valley of humanity through the regular routine at work the next few weeks there was no peace, Jessi observed, her heart so moved, among several of her hospital teammates. Many, it was obvious, didn't know that lasting peace which she experiences every day, even amidst occasional difficulties and hard times. Thus, the "warfare" continued yet not against flesh and blood but "against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world's darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world." And so Jessi looked forward to that Friday when she would see Mr. Nicholas once again.
A Bittersweet Visit
"His condition has worsened," Emily said, greeting Jessi as she entered the hospital's lobby area. "He probably won't be able to talk. Even if he does, it will be difficult to understand him. But he's lying pretty still. He may be breathing his last," Emily continued.
Jessi greeted Emily and was also pleased to see little Justin and Jessica again. After introducing the three to Thomas-John, who brought her to the hospital, she and Emily headed for James Nicholas' room with some haste, as perhaps there was not much time left. Thomas-John sat with the twins, entertaining them in the hospital's waiting area, dazzling them in his attempt at solving a Rubik's Cube.
This time in seeing Mr. Nicholas was not such a glad occasion, he on life support, I.V. needles sticking in his arm, and an oxygen tube in his nose.
Slowly, Jessi approached him upon entering the room. An occasional beep from the monitors over his bed caught her ear, indicating by the respiratory scrolling through the machine there was still life.
She drew nearer his bed, she on one side, Emily on the other. Slipping her hand into his, lowering herself closer to him, she spoke softly yet with a caring smile, "Hi Mr. Nicholas. It's Jessi. Remember me?"
She felt his grip tighten, apparently indicating his recognition of her. Though breathing heavy and unable to speak, he did manage a slight smile. Then, Jessi realized, "Mr. Nicholas, you do remember me," she smiled all the more brightly. "Do you remember our meeting on that train that evening? I've been praying for you ever since and hoping I would get to see you again. I was also hoping not like this, however."
His grip tightened more, momentarily. Suddenly, a steady beep was heard from the monitors, then nothing, the graphs scrolling a straight line. His hand in Jessi's fell limp. A strange glow brightened Mr. Nicholas' body, then ascended through the air; Emily's tear-swollen eyes burst, tears poured down her face. Bending down over her dad, Emily kissed him. "Bye Daddy," she choked out through her tears. "I'll miss you, but I'll see you again."
Jessi was astonished, then noticed an empty cross around Emily's neck where once hung that crucifix.
This was the fourth death Jessi had witnessed in her young life. Before now, there was the recent death of her little friend Jenny. The first, however, was the losing her best friend Timothy when they both were children. Then, there was Grammy's death, a year before she graduated from high school.
Remembrance of Grammy’s Passing
"Hi Grammy, it's Jessi," Jessi announced enthusiastically as she entered Grammy's house on that bright spring day. School out for the Easter holiday, Jessi had more free time to spend with Grammy. She was an especially good company to Grammy now, Grammy being well advanced in years and ailing in health.
Jessi approached Grammy sitting in her favorite wingback chair, her feet propped on the accompanying ottoman, that old worn Bible from which she read so often and especially to Jessi and Timothy, on her lap. Jessi knelt down beside that chair, nudging Grammy gently, she said, "Grammy, are you okay?"
Grammy's head twitched, turning toward the voice, she remarked, "Oh, Timothy, my boy."
"No, Grammy, it's Jessi."
Then, recognizing Jessi, she exclaimed, "Jessi, oh, yes. Hi. How are you? I must have dozed off a bit. Have you come for your Bible story?"
"Well, maybe, but I've really come to see how you are doing, Grammy." Pausing briefly, she then asked, "Are you okay?"
Grammy, a little unsettled, straightened up in her chair, removing her feet from the ottoman, asked Jessi to sit down. Jessi, to please Grammy, took her position once more on that ottoman, as she had done so many times before even beside Timothy.
Placing her hands on Grammy's knees, looking straight at her, Jessi thought that Grammy looked especially ill this day. "Grammy, you don't look quite well today. How do you feel?"
"Oh, fiddlesticks," Grammy remarked and began opening her Bible. "I'm doing well," she said yet with a little quavering in her voice. Then handing the open Bible to Jessi, she said, "Here, you read the story today."
Jessi took the Bible and started to read where Grammy had turned to, yet not perhaps like she remembered Grammy reading to her and Timothy, "There was a certain rich man..." Jessi began.
"No, down a little further," Grammy interrupted.
Jessi began again at the next verse, "... One day Lazarus, a diseased beggar...
"A little further down," Grammy interrupted again.
".... As he lay there..." Jessi began, looking up at Grammy for further direction. She pointed as if saying the next verse. Jessi continued one more time, "... Finally, the beggar died..."
Jessi looked up at Grammy, who nodded. Jessi then continued, "...and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham in the place of the righteous dead..." a strange passage to be reading now, Jessi thought, this being spring and with the celebration of the Resurrection just around the corner, but then, looking up at Grammy, Jessi noticed that she had apparently fallen asleep, a strange smile on her face, as if she "imagined" herself with Jesus, as Jessi and Timothy had done so many times before.
"Grammy," Jessi nudged her gently. Then, feeling her pulse, she screamed, "Grammy!" Tears poured down her face.
How appropriate a death, where once Grammy who had not only imagined the true reality as she read the stories to her children, she has also lived it in her physical lifetime. She now experiences it fully, having now met her Savior face to face.
At Grammy O'Brien's memorial service the church was packed with people whom she had touched with her life through the love of Jesus. Per her instruction, her coffin was kept closed, as her earthly body was only an empty shell lying there, nothing to look at; her immortal soul had ascended to be with her Jesus, the One who granted her life, and now had reunited her with her husband and her children – Timothy and his parents.
Jessi was one who stood before the congregation and shared with tear-swollen eyes Grammy's influence on her own life, especially when she was a child, through those precious Bible reading times with her best childhood friend Timothy. Sitting amidst the congregation, listening to other testimonies of how Grammy had influenced so many to trust in Jesus, Jessi realized that for Elohim's children death is a grand adventure. Yet, there will be nothing more precious than that grand reunion day when they will meet again on those celestial shores.
A Life Okayed
Emily and Jessi left Mr. Nicholas' hospital room; the doctors and nurses now in charge of dismantling the life support mechanism, removing the I.V. tubes, etc. Jessi consoled Emily as they both returned to the lobby.
Yet, it was Emily who suggested, though weeping, "He's okay, you know. He's better off now." Jessi nodded. "I'm sure he did believe, too" Emily went on in a somewhat rapid succession. "In our last conversation together, all he talked about was your sharing with him and what he had seen in your life about your faith. I think it must have been in attending my church that turned him off, seeing all that tradition and rituals to supposedly make us right with Elohim. He just didn't go for it. But, even with the little time you've known him, your simple faith of caring is what brought him back, I believe. And then," she slowed down a bit, "I began to think more about it myself, after meeting you and having turned to a television program that held my attention with a presentation of what it really meant to be a child of Elohim. I then confessed Jesus and turned in that cross with Jesus on it for this empty one," she pointed to the cross around her neck, "now knowing that I have a risen Savior."
Inwardly, Jessi praised God for Emily's coming to that realization.
Upon approaching the lobby Jessi noticed Thomas-John entertaining the twins. "Hi Thomas-John," she said beaming, "Justin, Jessica."
"You're all smiles," Thomas-John responded. "You've had a good visit, I presume. Mr. Nicholas is all right?" Justin and Jessica, too, looked up excitedly, presently optimistic about their grandfather.
"He's doing just great now," Emily answered.
"I'll tell you all about it on our way home," Jessi said with that bright smile, taking Thomas-John's arm. "Bye Emily, Justin, Jessica. Keep in touch."
"I will," Emily responded. "And thanks for everything." Stepping in between the twins, she took hold of their hands; together they exited the hospital.
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© 2018 Charles Newcombe