Today, the day that I am writing this “Your Pastor Speaks” article, is Monday, April 11, 2022. Today would have been my mom Mary’s 89th birthday, but she passed away last June. On this week after we have celebrated the resurrection of Christ, and his work upon the cross has ended, and his work within and through each of us has begun, it is on my heart to honor him and him in my mom as an example of “what now?” for the lives of each of us as believers.
Growing up, my mom saw some examples of faith around her, but she never came to faith in childhood. In fact, even after she had married my dad Jack, who was a teacher and pastor and a wonderful example of faith to her for many years, she herself did not come to faith. Yet while we tend to want to deal in “right nows,” God deals with lifetimes, and late in life, in her 70s, Mary came to a personal, genuine, life-altering relationship with Jesus Christ. It was life-altering for me, too; now she was not only my mom, but she was more importantly my sister in Christ.
Mary had been a fearful hermit of sorts prior to that but, liberated by her faith in God through Jesus Christ, she bravely embraced personal relationships, and learning, and public activities, and even airline travel to other states. She met monthly with three dear women from her high school days and, when God opened the door, she would share her faith.
It was a whole new life for Mary as she allowed Jesus’ work within her to grow. This new life, however, was not without its daunting challenges, and the day came when Mary needed to face the biggest challenge from her former life – the fear of dying, and specifically dying while under anesthesia. Mary’s dentist told her that they needed to operate on some teeth, and that he would need to “put her under” during this procedure. The teeth were problematic, and at least an hour would be set aside just for the surgery.
She told the dentist “yes” regarding the surgery and then, when we had left his office, asked me to pray with her. We thanked God for setting both of us free from fear, and we asked him for his very best for her during the operation.
The day came for the surgery, and Mary had her “game face” on. I prayed again as we drove to the surgery center and, shortly after we arrived, they took Mary back for her surgery. Although they had set aside at least an hour for the procedure, no more than 10 minutes after the surgery had begun a nurse came to the waiting room and summoned me to the post-operation area.
“She’s all done; it’s amazing,” the nurse said. Understandably, my mom – though awake – was still completely under the full influence of the anesthesia. “I’m ready, Ben,” she said confidently, “They can go ahead and start.” “They’re all done, Mama,” I replied. “Really?” she said incredulously. And then she went silent for several moments, and I symbolically disappeared from the room.
Then she spoke, very quietly, but unslurred, and with almost frightening assurance. “You see, satan? You lost. Jesus just asked me to climb one more mountain, and you lost. Thank You, Jesus!” And then she cried with joy. Until the day she died, Mary did not remember this conversation between her and satan and Jesus.
I, however, will remember it until the day I die. I told her then, and I tell you now, that we all long to have a faith so genuine, so intimate, so impactful that it comes out of us just as it came out of Mary, even under anesthesia and without her conscious knowledge. So Jesus has died for our sins. He has risen again.
What now? We make note of an example like Mary’s, we swallow hard at its requirement of us, and then we humbly pray, “Heavenly Father, if you would be so kind as to help….me, too, please?” Faith like that which you produced in Mary. Me, too, please, Father. Me, too.
The writer is a bishop in The International Church Network, a network of 400-500 churches in North America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.