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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

23 Years Ago My Sister Was 'Swallowed Up By Life'

Twenty-three years ago yesterday, on March 9, 1987, my older sister Michele Olson died. Her four and a half year struggle with cancer had come to an end. As I remember it, one of our final conversations, in addition to speaking 'I love you' to one another, drew hope from 2 Corinthians 5.

She was dying. Together, our prayers were shifting from, "Lord heal!" to "Lord take!" She said to me and to my wife Kathy, "I don't want to die."

I tearfully spoke hope from 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from GOD, an eternal house in heaven, not build by human hands... For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Later, after what seemed like endless hours of unconsciousness labored breathing, she died. Or rather, my mortal sister, Michele, was 'swallowed up by life.'  Verse 5 adds the eternal purposes of GOD,
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.
In the valley of the shadow of death we – both the dying and the not yet dying – have great hope in Christ. According to this text, it is God's eternal purpose to take us to live with him forever, not in our old diseased, worn out mortal bodies. But in renewed bodies, 'buildings made not with hands'.

Since that day, I have had a keen awareness of the hope that is ours in Christ. That is, according to God's eternal purposes in Christ, 23 years ago today my mortal sister, Michele, was swallowed up by eternal life to be with the Lord— FOREVER!

May God grant that we live ever mindful of the gift and brevity of life, without fear of death, resting in hope that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and that in Him we too, will be with the Lord forever.