Sleep did not come easily last night. My flesh was warring against my spirit. My joy and peace had been disturbed by yesterday’s activities. This old soul is no longer able to handle a lot of stimuli; and last night brought to mind many things, good and bad.
It was Emma’s birthday. The youngest of our six grandchildren, she turned to a beautiful eleven years. Since we had overslept the morning hour when we usually call I had to keep reminding myself that we still needed to wish her a happy birthday. Later when we called she had not gotten home from school.
Lee returned my call after work to talk about celebrating on Saturday. The conversation turned to the latest report from Brad’s uncle Mike, concerning his wife, Brad’s aunt, Zoe, who is dying of cancer. Her family and friends were talking about Mike’s Facebook posting about the ordeal they have been going through. While he has always been private about his personal life he is now speaking freely about things that perhaps Zoe should read. He speaks so well of her and her Christian faith since he knew her at the age of fourteen.
Jerry has a Facebook account that he never uses, but whenever there is something that we need to know we have access. As I read I was impressed by Mike’s writings, and, at the same time, my thoughts of losing my family members were beginning to recycle.
During the evening we tried two other times to reach Emma; and it wasn’t until later, after Jerry had gone to bed, that Lee called us from Zaxby’s. Sadness turned to joy again as we sang “Happy Birthday” and talked to Emma.
As I lay down to sleep my thoughts of Zoe and Emma intermingled ~ thoughts of the older and the younger; thoughts of death and life.
Zoe celebrated her 62nd birthday in January. Two months later Emma is celebrating her eleventh. As I have thought about these two girls I remember Zoe from her own witness of life in Christ. I had never known anyone with this name; and as names have fascinated me I looked up the meaning of Zoe when I first met her.
“Zoe means “life” in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).”
Because Zoe had done seminars for caregivers she was helpful to me when I knew that we would be taking care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. Then she and I were in counsel together to help Mr. Roney, a member of my church, when he needed to find help to care for his wife.
She and I both were caring for our mothers at the same time.
Zoe’s body is giving way to death. She is not walking in the “valley of the shadow of death;” but is now experiencing the darkness of the cavern of death. Christ has lived in her as His own witness. The life of Christ within her is carrying her through to eternal life with Him.
Zoe’s life in the flesh is waning. Emma’s life is only beginning, and we have seen the same life of Christ within her since a very young age. She has expressed her faith verbally and through her obedience to Him; in her desire for His word, in prayer and in her relationships with others. Like Zoe she is comfortable with speaking to others about her faith, and in putting hands and feet to her faith by helping others.
She and her sisters, with Lee, have helped Zoe with cleaning since she has been too ill to do things on her own.
Emma was with us two days a week when Mother was living with us. Even at the age of three Emma knew how to comfort Mother when she was sad. She has a wisdom that only God could give.
When Jerry had the three surgeries on his leg, including his amputation, she was as helpful and gracious as any adult would have been. Nothing was bothersome to her. She always took these things in stride, even watching the wound treatment and dressings. She, like her mother, and like Zoe, have many friends. We all see something rare in her; a life that only God can give; life in Christ, which transcends all of death.
Christ came to overcome death with life. The enemy wanted death for us. Through it God brings us to Him for eternity.
It is natural that death would keep us thinking about death; but the Spirit of life in Christ brings us beyond those thoughts to think of Him.
We can rejoice in Him even as we think of losing Zoe. I will always remember her and her part in my own life; and continue to watch what He is doing in Emma and the lives of our family, our church, and within this world; for His own glory and our joy.
God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
1 John 5:11-12
(As I was writing this Lee called. I thought she was going to say that Zoe had died. Instead, her news was about a worse death. A friend and neighbor she had known since middle school had killed herself. Because of this and two other suicides of people I knew in the last few months I will share a follow up with another article that I wrote two weeks ago entitled Self-Destruction.)