In Honor of Ms. Martha
Wed. Oct. 19th 2012
(Rev 3:5-6 NCV)
Those who win the victory will be dressed in white clothes like them.
And I will not erase their names from the book of life,
but I will say they belong to me before my Father
and before his angels.
Everyone who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
This past Friday morning, I received a phone call from my mother asking me if I could go to the hospital. You see, my stepdad was there with his mother. And though I was not as close to her as I was my own grandmother-- I VERY much cared for this woman, my children call, "Granny C."
My stepdad has been a part of our family for fifteen years. He lost his dad several years ago and has taken such amazing care of his mother. He has honored her, loved her, and, he and my mother have spent hours on end, and sometimes days on end with her and helping her all these years. And up until this last year they have done everything they could to make her comfortable in her own home. Several months ago, my stepdad had to finally make the decision to move her into an assisted living home. And he and my mother would go up there just about everyday and spend time with her. Tuesday's became their "card nights."
So anyway, on Friday morning, I went up to the hospital, and my stepdad and his sister were there (my mother had stepped out for a bit). After visiting with my stepdad, I learned that Martha's condition was not good, and there really wasn't anything they could do for her, and she wasn't expected to live much longer. They had her on a breathing machine, and was just trying to make her comfortable. I asked my stepdad if it would be ok if I prayed for her even though she was sleeping. You see, she hadn't been to church in several years and I really didn't know where her heart was concerning Christ. My step aunt came over to the side of the bed and held her mother's right hand while I held her left hand. I prayed-- not really out loud, but not silently either-- inviting God's Holy Spirit into our midst and welcoming Jesus. I prayed that Christ would fill Martha with peace and that in her heart she would know He was with her. I prayed for God's Spirit to comfort her, and that Martha would feel His presence and know Him. After I ended my prayer I sat for a few moments just humming. I heard my step aunt say, "Mother?" I looked up, and Martha had a smile on her face, and she opened her eyes. She only had them open for a little bit, but it was enough.
What really got me was, during my prayer, I could feel her putting pressure on my hand, as if she were trying to squeeze it. When I went to stand up and move back, she wouldn't let go. So I sat there for three hours hours holding her hand. Before I had prayed Martha's daughter had commented that it was cold in the room and she put her jacket on. Not long after I had finished praying, my mother came back and since I was holding Martha's hand with my right hand, I patted my mother's hand with my left. My mom took my hand in her's and stated how warm my hand was! And that it was very comforting feeling. A little bit later, Martha's daughter took her jacket off and commented on how warm-- and almost hot-- the room was! My thought was that it was "God's Holy Spirit."
This reminded me of a verse I had just recently read: Do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 5:19). The reason being is that, when I was doing a study on this verse what I have learned is that God's Holy Spirit will warm the heart and enlighten the mind. And that is how it was as I was praying for Martha. The warmth that seemed to flow between her and I, and then the warmth in the room. God was making His Presence known.
I went back up to the hospital that evening and sat with her again. And just as she had done earlier that day, she held my hand. But this time she was awake-- she couldn't talk, but she knew that me and my stepdad were with her. I prayed again, the same prayer as before. I noticed that she was struggling yes, but it didn't seem as intense and something about her, just seemed at peace.
The next morning, Saturday, my stepdad made the painful decision to remove the breathing machine that was forcing her air. Even with this machine, her oxygen level was very low and it was just prolonging her suffering. The nurse put on just a regular breathing mask. After a very short time, the doctor came in and said that her heart was starting to slow down. (They were monitoring her from the nurse's station so my family wouldn't have to hear all the noise) As he was checking her vitals-- yes, her heart was still beating but not very strong. I went over and picked up her left hand and in front of everyone started praying. I prayed the same prayer as before, but this time I also praised God for this wonderful woman we were there with, and the life she had. I felt my mother come stand next to me, and put her hands on my shoulder. I could feel her stroking my hair. I knew that my step aunt had joined us at the bed and held Martha's other hand. (My step dad had left to get something-- thinking he would have time.) When I finished praying I reached over and took my aunts hand while she said a very brief goodbye. And when we finished, I looked up to see that the doctor hadn't left, but was standing very quietly with his bowed in respect. After I finished praying-- he came back over and checked for a pulse-- there wasn't one. She had died while we were holding her hand and praying for her. It was so incredibly peaceful. A friend of her's that had been there with us, said she could tell the moment Martha passed way-- it was in the middle of my prayer, praising God and thanking Him for our time with her.
Martha was such an amazing and accomplished woman. She had been a judge here in our town. She loved her family and was a good mother to her children, a devoted wife while her husband was a live, and adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren. And I am very blessed in having known her. I am so honored that God gave me an opportunity to be with her during her final moments. And so very humbled that I had the privilege to pray with her on Friday-- her smile and the warmth of her hands when she opened her eyes for that little bit Friday afternoon, I will always cherish.
I am so thankful that God answered our prayers and that her passing was one of peace. I know that Jesus was with her to take her home. I know that God's Holy Spirit filled the room she was in, and gave her comfort when she was scared and couldn't understand what was going on. I believe it was His Hand on her shoulder giving her peace. And I am so grateful.
Thank You Lord, for this woman that we had the honor to have as part of our family. Thank You for being with her and my family.
In Jesus' Name,