My mother-in-law Betty passed away tonight. She was a prayer warrior and a testimony of faith in Jesus. She was actually my husband’s stepmother, but like his dad, Allen (who passed in 2010), she always treated me like one of her own. She had many admirable qualities, but her steadfast faith in Jesus, her Savior, was one of her best. There were many family dinners and occasions where the family’s expression of faith was led by Betty and Allen and provided my daughter with a legacy of Christian faith and living that I am grateful beyond measure that my daughter was able to experience.
I know I will miss her, but in my sadness I am remembering some verses that offer some comfort. The first is Hebrews 12:1-3.
12 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This online source explains the “cloud of witnesses” this way.
“We are surrounded by the saints of the past in a unique way. It’s not that the faithful who have gone before us are spectators to the race we run. Rather, it is a figurative representation and means that we ought to act as if they were in sight and cheering us on to the same victory in the life of faith that they obtained. We are to be inspired by the Godly examples these saints set during their lives. These are those whose past lives of faith encourage others to live that way, too. That the cloud is referred to as “great” indicates that millions of believers have gone before us, each bearing witness to the life of faith we now live.”
Betty now, along with Allen, and the other loved ones who have gone before us are a part of that “cloud of witnesses”. I can’t help but think of Mark Schultz’s song, Cloud of Witnesses, and the words toward the end of the song. I can imagine Betty, despite her 93 years on this earth, running “the final mile” to the throne surrounded by all those who went before her, and who is now in the arms of the Savior.
So when it comes the time
That heaven calls
They’ll come running to see the ones who’ve gone before,
Ran the race and made the journey home,
To find waiting for them at the finish line,
They will run
And they will see
A cloud of witnesses
Lined up on a street of gold
As they run the final mile.
That leads them to a throne.
And through the cloud of witnesses
They see God upon the throne.
And as they fall into His arms,
They know they’re home in
A cloud of witnesses,
Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
In closing, I’d like to note 1 Thessalonians 4:13:
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
I will miss Betty and I am deeply saddened by her passing. I understand from family members that she passed peacefully. Though some tears may fall, we now know that she is rejoicing.