Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” ~ John 14:1-4

As I wrote last week a few days after my arrival in the United Kingdom: “As some of you followers of my blogs and FB posts have surmised, I arrived in the United Kingdom this past Tuesday on another kind of re-acquaintance mission, only this time with members of my own extended family. It has been some ten years since I was last here, and there have been some unavoidable losses of family and long-time friends in the meantime – Time, after all, eventually runs out for each and every one of us while inwardly we all have a tendency to keep pushing the inevitability aside for “future consideration”; a future consideration that can be fulfilled in the next minute or so, or with the next breath!” Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34


Turns out that my words were almost more than prescient, but prescient will do for now as I unfold the events of the past ten days or so. Literally while I was snoozing on the overnight flight bringing me here, 90-year-old Uncle Jack about a mile down the road from where I am right now, was being rushed to hospital with a searing pain in his back (which turned out to be a crushed vertebrae) together with a few other aches and pains from a chest infection, acute respiratory distress, prostate cancer, blood-thinning treatment etc., etc.

Sister Diane, Uncle Jack age 26, cousin Reg, Uncle Ralph and me wedding day morning 1951

Sister Diane, Uncle Jack age 26, cousin Reg, Uncle Ralph and me wedding day morning 1951

Without going into too much detail, the surgeons called in his immediate family and gave the prognosis that attempting to repair the vertebrae was very risky at his age, even if he came through the procedure, but there was no guarantee that it would heal sufficiently to ease his discomfort. Therefore they recommended a morphine drip to take away the pain and let him go quietly. This past Monday, the surgeons called in the family once again, and gave him 48 hours. Well, the warrior that he was went beyond the 48, but he finally succumbed Friday morning, January 22 2016, at 9:50 AM.

In Cloud by Day/Fire by Night, Chapter Twelve, I describe in Abiding Comfort the very topic I am writing about right now – the sending off across the great divide of those loved ones who are basically on life support. As I write in the Reflection at the end of the piece: “In the years since I penned these words I have been given the privilege of releasing and sending more than a few people off across the divide into the presence of our Lord and Savior. Especially so in hospitals, when people have been attached to life support systems with very little chance of survival were they not on such machines or pain-relieving drugs”.

Me and Jack at his home July 2004 at the age of 78 always hale and hearty...

Me and Jack at his home July 2004 at the age of 78 always hale and hearty…

Death-bed confessions, I must admit, are not really my forte, but when you remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus it certainly brings a whole lot of things into perspective. I remember one time Mark Rutland coming to Dallas and telling the story of when he was a young pastor at a small country church in Georgia, being called to the local hospital at two in the morning. When he got there his elderly congregant was comatose on the bed, and the attending nurse informed Pastor Rutland that the other family members had been alerted and were on their way. Settling down by the bedside, he began to read some scriptures and quietly pray for the patient. All of a sudden quite out of the blue, the octogenarian gentleman sat bolt upright in the bed, raised both arms as high as he could, needles and tubes flying everywhere, yelled out at the top of his lungs “Oh! But it’s beautiful!” and fell back on the bed as dead as a door-bolt. Talk about an instant send-off! Paul, from I Corinthians 15:54-58:

Jack's wife Florrie, me, and cousin Janice.. c.1984

Jack’s wife Florrie, me, and cousin Janice.. c.1984

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory .. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law .. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ .. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord..

So rest in peace Uncle Jack Harrison and be reunited with your beautiful bride Florrie who has been waiting patiently these past nine years for you to show up and enjoy the treasures of Heaven with her. And be at peace at last.

His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d; 
O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d, 
But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing: 
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen; 
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.

From George Peele’s Sonnet: A Farewell To Arms, 1590


Which brings me to an item I have been holding in my archives for just the right moment to give it due diligence and respect. Steve Jobs is arguably one of the great pioneering wiz-kids of the past century in his chosen field of entrepreneurial hi-tech wizardry, if not THE top wiz-kid, but his life hasn’t been without its troubled times, particularly when he got tossed out of the company he founded, only to be brought back to restore it to its former glory.

In respect to his personal life, Steve Jobs remained a private man who rarely disclosed information about his family. In the early 1990s, Jobs met Laurene Powell at Stanford business school, where Powell was an MBA student. They married on March 18, 1991, and lived together in Palo Alto, California, with their three children. It seems his personal life was always one of isolation and controversy, leading up to early 2009, when reports began circulating about Jobs’ weight loss, some stating his health issues had returned, including his having had a liver transplant. Jobs had responded to these concerns by stating he was dealing with a hormone imbalance and after nearly a year out of the spotlight, Jobs delivered a keynote address at an invite-only Apple event on September 9, 2009.

Steve Jobs shares his last words just days before his death...

Steve Jobs shares his last words just days before his death…

On October 5, 2011, Apple Inc. announced that its co-founder had passed away. After battling pancreatic cancer for nearly a decade, Steve Jobs died in Palo Alto at the age of 56, far too young most would say, for a man of his many talents. As I stated in my opener above: “Time, after all, eventually runs out for each and every one of us while inwardly we all have a tendency to keep pushing the inevitability aside for “future consideration”; a future consideration that can be fulfilled in the next minute or so, or with the next breath!” As is obvious from the pic accompanying this segment, Steve Jobs was barely alive when this was taken just days before his death. He did however, share his insights with us before his demise, the content of which might well surprise you, being cognizant of the guarding of his personal life and his propensity for privacy. I found this very enlightening…

STEVE JOBS in his own words:
I have come to the pinnacle of success in business. In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success. However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed. At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death. In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.

Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth. It should be something more important: For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.

No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me. I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love. This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, He will give strength and light to go ahead. Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.

What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.

You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you. Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life. Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls. Please treasure your family love; love for your spouse, love for your friends…

Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbors.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne, No Man is an Island, Meditation XVII, 1624


Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Matthew 6:20-21


So there you have it in a nutshell, what one might call the vagaries of life. On the one hand a quiet gentle man awakes in the middle of the night in pain, and two weeks later he has passed into Eternity. On the other the world’s most recognizable billionaire cannot stem the tide of decay nor the fact that he cannot take his billions with him, yet recognizes on his death bed that God rules in all things. Our deepest desire in the quest to attain knowledge should be to expand the world around us, not solely the mind within us. The potential behind achieved knowledge is lost when it is concealed. Think of a world where Einstein never published, where Martin Luther King kept his dreams to himself. Think of how many world changing ideas are engraved into the brains of those no longer living.

For our souls need shelter; and the only one who can be a refuge for the soul is Jesus Christ. He is our hiding-place, our haven of rest. Consider these words from the book of John: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. ~ John 15:4

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!