Saturday, June 8, 2024

A Tribute for My Friend

I want to pay tribute to my friend, Diana, who has passed away. "Gone to glory," as my grandma would've said. 

I didn’t know Diana well.  We were friends and classmates in our high school class of 1972, but I came to our small town late, in my junior year of high school, and so did not have the lifelong connection and friendship with her that the other 20 members of our class may have enjoyed. However, when you graduate high school with a group of people, the tie can remain close, as it has done for our class.  My connection with Diana remained through class reunions and occasional conversations over the years.  

When Diana moved back to our hometown and then had to endure cancer treatments, I had the opportunity to get to know her better.  I can only say that her calm acceptance of her multiple cancer diagnoses was an inspiration to me.  I was offering my support to her one day when she said very matter-of-factly, “I know the Lord, I know where I’m going, and if I die, I die. Cancer is really no big deal.”  She threw around that “C-word,” cancer, without flinching.  And often, in my interactions with her during the past year especially, she would end up encouraging me.  You know how when you decide to reach out in Christian love and charity toward someone and when you get home you realize you were the one who was helped?  Diana was a calm and encouraging counselor for me regarding my fears of medical procedures.  “It’s really not so bad,” she said, when I confided my fears of having an MRI.  “You’ll be fine.”  


We can have peace regarding Diana, because she is now resting safe at home with the Lord she loved. We can feel happy for her while we reserve the right to be sad for ourselves, and we will continue to lift her sweet mom in prayer, along with her brothers and their families.  We pray for them in their grief.  I would encourage Diana's mother to continue to enjoy her life, the taste of good food, the camaraderie of friends, and the activities she so enjoys, at peace in the knowledge that Diana is safe at home and that she will see her beloved daughter again.  That assurance belongs to those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; we don’t grieve as those who haven’t placed their trust in Him do.  


The idea of death is frightening to most of us and the death of a beloved friend or relative brings us uncomfortably close to the awareness of our own limited lifespans. But when we waste time fearing how we might die or when we are leaving out an important truth.  I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who said that we aren’t given dying grace until we are actually dying.  All other imaginings about death are made apart from the grace we will be given when it’s actually our turn to walk through the Valley of the Shadow.  I was privileged to see that wonderful peace and grace in Diana, to understand that she had been given dying grace on the journey she made through sickness and finally, on Wednesday afternoon the 27th of May, to the release of her mortal flesh as her spirit flew home.  As Christians, death is not a location but a passage; we only pass through the shadow and immediately into life again.  For those who have professed belief in Christ as Savior, God has set His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing the life to come.  


Diana, I am grateful to have known you and am happy that I will see you again.  So glad you made it home safe!  


God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16