I just visited my friend, Isabel, who has been suffering from a terminal respiratory illness for over eight years. In fact, when she first became ill all those years ago she met with me over coffee and spelled out her wishes for her funeral service and made me promise to honor her wishes.
As her condition worsened and she grew increasingly weak, she began to wonder why it was taking so long for the Lord to come for her. She's been ready for some time - her bags packed, as it were.
I visited her in her home a couple of weeks ago, where she has been for months under the care of her beloved, Bill, her husband of over 48 years as well as her daughter, Amy, and the wonderful people of hospice. As I sat by her bedside Isabel told me that she was ready to go, and didn't understand why the Lord hadn't already come to take her on to heaven.
It gave me a chance to talk about the Lord's sovereign will and his timing. I shared with Isabel that perhaps God still had something he wanted to do through her life. I reassured her that his timing is always perfect and he always works for our good and the good of others. I assured her that one day before long she would close her eyes on this life and open them in the presence of her beloved Lord, Jesus.
Today, as I held her hand and prayed there in her room in the Elizabeth House, our local hospice facility, I said, "Lord, even as John said in the Revelation, we ask that you come quickly," to which Isabel said, "Amen."
What a testimony of faith and patience her life has been, and what joy she has given to all who have come to be blessed by her friendship. And what joy awaits Isabel when she hears Jesus say to her, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come with me and see what I've prepared for you."