Thomas was 81. Many of us witnessed his physical changes during the last decade of life. Yet, his heart for impacting people for Christ never wavered. So the news of his stroke caught us off guard.
My friendship with Thomas and his wife Molly began almost 50 years ago. We served God together in a Christian organization, and I never envisioned I would have the privilege of being Thomas’ executive assistant for 27 years.
Time had passed so quickly. Now it was standing still.
Thomas laid in his hospital bed for 14 days, unable to speak yet able to hear. Most of those days his three children surrounded around his bedside. During that time God reminded them of their father’s comment, “Why do people say all those nice things about someone after they’re gone? Why don’t they tell them while they’re still living?”
That birthed an idea. “Why don’t we invite people to say what they want Dad to know now?”
Emails poured in and they took turns reading each one to Thomas. They held the cell phone to his ear so he could hear a call or a voicemail left at a designated number. Once in a while he’d mumble a weak response; other times a tear would flow down his cheek as he listened to words of endearment. Some who lived nearby visited in person.
This “living memorial” went on for days.
I sent an email because I didn’t trust my emotions to hold up while I expressed my love, admiration, and appreciation for all he poured into my life that shaped who I am today. When he lingered, I asked God for strength to call so he would hear my voice before his journey to heaven. I especially wanted him to know I’d keep on serving God for the rest of my life.
A couple days later he was gone. Immediately transported into the presence of God because he had embraced God and begun a personal relationship with Him.
I wondered, “What will my life be like without seeing Thomas, hearing his contagious laughter, or receiving his words of love, friendship, advice, and encouragement?”
Brokenhearted, I turned my question to God. God helped me see that Thomas had finished the work He had given him to do. He’d left a legacy that had helped countless people know how to have eternal life and serve God wholeheartedly.
Now it’s my turn to continually build the legacy I believe God wants me to leave behind by helping others know God and live for Him.
The way I spend each day is important. I never know when it may be my last.