Seven and a half years ago, she walked into the Bible study class I was leading. We were working on Priscilla Shirer’s study, Discerning the Voice of God. That fall there were many broken hearts in the class: a marriage ended, a baby died, dreams ended too soon, ministries changed shape, cancer knocked on the door and made an unwelcome yet grand entrance … and God spoke.
“Love like Jesus, and walk her Home.”
When Jesus intercepts your life, and you become one of His children, you have an opportunity to join the family business of loving like He loves and walking alongside others on their life journeys. Hebrews 13:16 reminds us, “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
This blog post could be another beautiful tribute to Emma. Many have eloquently posted these, and she is worthy of countless more. Emma and I talked every night on Messenger for the last couple of years, and I think I knew her heart. I’m confident she’d be blessed and touched by the precious words shared by those who loved her. I’m equally confident that she’d be saying, “Enough about me already, what about you? What about Jesus?” So many times, as I sat curled up on her cozy couch or the end of her hospital bed, she’d say, “We know I’m dying, but how are YOU doing? How’s YOUR heart?” That was our Emma. And if you knew her at all, you know that she loved Jesus, above all else, and just wanted us to love and obey Him too.
This post could be about the last few weeks of caring for Emma and specifically the call that came last Saturday saying, “You need to come now.” That’s too fresh and perhaps too intimate an experience to share. I’m certain God will speak clearly about whether or not that story will ever be told.
No, if I were running this post past Emma, she’d agree that it should be about Jesus and what He asks of each of us.
I can’t count the number of times Em would say, “There are not enough words to thank you for …” I always answered, “Em, I’m just loving you like Jesus and walking you Home.” We agreed that it was the most beautiful way to spend one’s lifetime, regardless of its length.
I saw a huge community of believers love like Jesus and walk with Emma’s family. For some, it meant making meals (oh-so-many meals!) or dropping off homemade bread or groceries. For others, it meant laundry and cleaning help, or giving rides to the kids. Still others sat with Emma in the last few weeks, keeping her company and doing tasks around the house. And while those who loved tangibly are great in number, those who PRAYED are innumerable. Some were only able to help once, and others helped countless times—yet no tally was ever kept—certainly not by the One whose opinion matters most. I pray that those who shared the journey will treasure knowing that they obediently did what Jesus asked by walking a stretch of the road with Emma. For that privilege, we can all be thankful.
A few months ago, I wrote about concentric circles that delineated how to avoid saying the wrong things when someone you love is suffering. The person who’s suffering is at the center. Children, parents, siblings, and intimate friends are in smaller rings than less-familiar friends and acquaintances. Though many may believe the “journey” is over and we can all “get back to normal” now, we know that Emma’s homegoing only marks a new leg of the journey for those of us who were the closest to her. It will take some figuring out. It will take some time, but we’re going to keep walking—one-step-at-a-time. And we’re going to keep loving people like Jesus.