Passage to Heaven
The months had been stretched … twisting cruel … with broken bones, surgeries, pain, hours of pushing herself with the exercises of rehabilitation, followed by long lonely night hours; she was so weary … so ready … longing from the depths of her heart … to just rest in the arms of Jesus and draw that last breath … to move through the waiting threshold into eternity with her Savior.
The last two days … my little mother, Elizabeth, was so beautiful, as fragile and pure as a new baby. Her skin was luminous, the soft curls around her face gleamed with a new silver against the white cotton of her pillow. She was simply waiting … no more pain … the very air around her moved with an expectant peace.
The day before, my father was quietly brought into the room to see his Elizabeth. He held her hand, sitting in his wheel chair, his faded eyes searching her face while he prayed and told her he loved her. We heard him murmur, "My Elizabeth, always faithful ... always true."
Family and ministerial friends eased in and out of the room … whispering their prayers, saying their loving good-byes in their own individual space of heart and soul.
My children, how blessed I was to be her daughter; carried under her devoted heart, familiar with the sound of her voice in prayer – long before my birth. She knew I would be there with her … we had talked many times through the months of her physical travail: she listened while I spoke to her in my imaginative way of Heaven … with her sweet trusting look … accepting the scenes I described – just as I had listened to her throughout my childhood while she told the stories of Jesus.
Monday afternoon … her breathing was different … a constant gasp with each breath. Sitting beside her I heard the gasp disappear … & moved to stand beside her bed. Yes, she was breathing … silent sweet breathing … without struggle … and my heart knew.
Holding her beautiful hand, encircled with mine … knowing … it was time …
It was as if some loving spirit guided me to sing … simply the name of "Jesus," soft and steady … "Je..sus," knowing those two tones of His name would somehow envelope her soul and set her mind free from fear … to yield and flow with her spirit. She struggled gently to lift her eyelids … and, on the second attempt ... opened them ... looked into my eyes for a brief second ... then dropped that curtain to look instead at the visions of the soul.
"Je…sus Je…sus" His name … held every word and thought and feeling … the complete story of my mother and her God.
She breathed out the last long breath .... I could see a pulse in her throat ... faintly it beat three more soft pulses ... and then, no more.
At that moment … that eternal moment ... from the very fountain of my being came the joyous note of Hal-le-lu-ja ... on a higher cadence of melody. The singing served as my breathing … during that hollowed time when Jesus and His angels drew her soul away from this time and space.
Never fear death … with Jesus Christ as your Saviour… He simply takes you with Him … setting you free from this time and space.
The saints were gathered at the gate,
The angels were gathered at the gate
Heaven’s host were gathered at the gate
The beautiful gates of Heaven…
Heaven’s host gathered at the gate…
the beautiful gates of Heaven
The glory of God shown around them
While they gathered at the gates of Heaven…
Glory glory … glory, glory …glory glory …
How beautiful the face of Jesus…
Glory glory, glory glory … glory glory …
Hal le lu ja … hal le lu ja … hal la le ja
How tender is the
touch of the Saviou r
He calls His Servant home…
She has fought a good fight…
She has finished the course
She has kept the faith…
God calls His servant home.
With saints all waiting at the gate
With the angels all waiting at the gate
With Heaven’s host all waiting at the gate.
God calls his servant home
These are the lyrics of an anthem given to me several weeks before my Mother Elizabeth’s passing. I was driving over the freeways … going home from the hospital after being with her … and the music filled my mind … causing me to sing and lifting the pain from my heart. Many times I sang this to her in those last days. I can still her face and the perfect communion shining from her eyes while she listened. What a heritage God gave to us … her children & grandchildren & students. Someday we shall meet her at the gate of Heaven …. Hold fast to that faith and the truths of God’s Word she taught to us all.
Beth January 12, 2000