Dear sisters and brothers,
Each day that passes after Penny’s death could get harder and harder as the reality that she is no longer here sets in, if it were not for the support of family and friends, the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, and the light of the Scriptures. The phrase “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”(2 Cor. 5:8) keeps going over and over in my mind. To say that I miss Penny is an understatement. Yet I know from being with her until she took her last breath, that Ash Wednesday morning Feb. 21, 2007, her heartfelt desire was expressed in Phil. 2:21,23, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. . . I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far.”
I know that Penny is now cancer free, rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, but I must confess that there are times when I feel paralyzed by loneliness and the loss of her presence. How I must keep in mind the victory over death proclaimed in 1 Cor. 15:55-58: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers (and sisters) stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Penny gave herself fully to the work of the Lord. She left a book of remembrance for each of her children. When she was asked in it, “What best describes your life?” she responded, “An orphaned girl from the small town of Maywood, IL searches for love and meaning to her life and finds both in Jesus Christ, the One who takes special care of the orphans in the world. The minister’s words at my mother’s funeral came true: “Penny, God will take care of you!”
Now when you and I face many questions in those dark moments of loneliness, we must stand firmly on God’s promises of scripture as we remember Penny’s response to the question, “What advice about life do you want others to remember?”
“When you allow Jesus to fill your heart and life and you trust Him with every problem and decision and plan, He actively orchestrates the details of your life into an intricate and beautiful tapestry—a living portrait of His character and grace. Jesus truly is the joy of human longing. May you never take Him for granted, but love Him with all your heart—always.”
Yes it is hard to face the reality that Penny is no longer with us, but her life was a living legacy of God’s love and faithfulness. When she was asked “What spiritual legacy would you like to leave for others?” she answered, “I would like my husband, my children, grandchildren, and any others I have come to know and love to know intimately the presence of our loving God and to learn to pray about everything. I desire Godly wisdom and discernment to keep them from being deceived by the world. I have seen the corruption of too much money, too much work, too much distraction and too much pressure. When we depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit, our lives are more focused and meaningful.”
I thank God for blessing me with thirty-five and a half years of marriage to this wonderful woman who reflected real spiritual strength. She wrote, “Jesus is my source of spiritual strength and encouragement. I call on Him for everything large and small. I still rejoice at miracles and answers to prayer. If there is one lesson He keeps teaching me, it is “Trust Me! I’m learning to trust Him no matter what the circumstances or what I feel. I pray about everything because prayer weaves a golden thread of peace and comfort into my daily life.”
Penny has now gone to heaven. Before she left this earth she stated that when she got to heaven that once there after meeting Jesus face to face, she wanted to meet David to hear him sing and play music and talk about this life and walk with God. She would also like to meet Ruth and Esther and of course Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene plus many others. Well, Penny is now part of that great cloud of witnesses Paul speaks of in Heb. 12:1-3.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
As we face the future how we must remember we are not alone, just as Penny was not alone even in the midst of her battle with cancer. Her favorite verse was from Rom. 12:12 which says, “Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always.”(TLB) Penny, through her life, showed us how to live and be glad for all God has planned for us. Through her two year battle with cancer, she taught us how to be patient in trouble and even when facing death, how to be prayerful always. May her life and the example it provides be a challenge to each of us to do just that, as we live the rest of our lives on this earth God has created.
Your brother in Christ,