My husband’s Mom, Thea Blocher, just went to be with the Lord at the age of 91 after a lifetime of love for her family and friends. Roy’s Dad passed away in 1980, and she has lived independently since that time, most recently in a three story townhouse where she stayed fit running up and down the stairs, gardening, and being serious about an active lifestyle. We give thanks for her life and we give thanks that death does not have a sting because we know we will see her again in heaven. We do not grieve without hope.
The story of her last weeks of life is a special one, as God used the time to work in the hearts of some family members who had not been walking with Him. So many times in my life I have been reminded to continually be praying for my ‘top ten list’ of special people who do not yet know the Lord. I know you all have your list, too, and if you are like me, some of the names have been on it a long time. You probably have wondered, like me, what God’s timing will be to draw them to himself, and you may have told yourself “His ways are not our ways,” as I have many times.
Thea’s final journey began when she was rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties in early September. We almost lost her then, but God’s ways are not ours and He knew He had some ‘heart-softening’ to do, so she recovered and we moved her to a sub-acute nursing care center where she stayed for several weeks. The family visited constantly and some family members who were on our ‘list’ began to show more spiritual openness that ever before. They could see the strong faith of Roy’s Mom. She knew she was going to a great reunion in heaven with her husband, her mother, her father and many others from the Blocher clan.
We almost lost her once when she was in that nursing care center, but again God had other plans and more ‘softening’ to do. When it became clear that Thea’s heart was weakening and that she was not going to get better, we were able to move her back to her home with hospice help, and a live-in caregiver. More family members came to say their goodbyes and more spiritual openness was felt. Every day, my husband Roy sang the song “In the Garden” to his Mom and then his sister started joining him, making it a beautiful duet. Family connections continued to get closer and closer as we all shared love and concern for each other. More and more we felt the freedom to speak openly about our hope and belief in where she was going. It really was a beautiful thing. We thank God for all of this time we had together.
One evening Roy and his sister had a chance to have a conversation over dinner that was a ‘divine appointment’, to be sure. As he recounted it to me, I could tell that the Holy Spirit was guiding him to say many things that took her back to the beliefs of her youth, answered her questions and challenged her to re-think who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It wasn’t a ‘pray with me’ event, but at the end of the evening, she thanked Roy sincerely and he knew that God had truly been at work.
Soon after that came the day when we were sitting with Thea and we sensed the end was near. Roy’s sister asked me to read the 23rd psalm, which I did with great love for Thea. I even personalized it to encourage her that even though she would walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that she would not stay there, but go to the other side, and that she did not have to fear because her Shepherd would be with her, with his rod and his staff guiding her. As I was praying,Thea’s labored breath became calmer. I know she heard me. Then Roy sang “I love you Lord” and his sister told her Mom she loved her and finished by saying “Mom, it’s ok to go…and she went to be with the Lord. We wept and hugged, and Roy’s sister told me that she knew her Mom was in a better place, having a great reunion with her loved ones. I believe that her words reflect the work that God has been doing in her heart.
We are encouraged to see God at work in this way, even during this hard time—and we want YOU to be encouraged, too—He is working on the hearts on your ‘top ten list’, too. In His perfect time, He will draw each heart to himself. Let’s not get weary in ‘well doing’ or in praying.
We are grateful for the hope of heaven. We give thanks to God Whose ways are best.
President, Body and Soul Ministries