Mom flew away to Heaven at 12:17 this morning.
Sandra Turner: Born October 19, 1938—Died February 7, 2022, age 84.
That dash between the dates does not do justice to the life my mom lived, and neither will this post.
Suffice it to say that she lived a difficult, disappointed life. Her tough façade hid a tender, wounded heart, one I helped to create as a rebellious ne’er-do-well in my twenties. I became the son she needed at age thirty-one, after coming to Christ, then choosing to honor my mother.
The details of “the dash” don’t matter. But her testimony of Jesus Christ does.
Twenty-five years ago, she made a profession of faith, was baptized and even attended a small group that I led at the church where I was a pastor. But there was no growth. No talk of Jesus. No church. No Bible reading. Nothing.
When I visited her at the California nursing home in 2021, my goal was to see where she stood with the Lord, and if she still believed. Since it was still the age of Covid, we met outside her sliding glass door.
After we caught up a bit, I asked her some important questions: “Mom, do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord?”
“Yes,” she weakly replied.
“Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again? Have you repented of your sins?”
Once again, “Yes.”
I then read to her from Romans 10: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’”
That was the assurance she had—and I had—the assurance everyone has who puts their faith and trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. My mother, having nothing to offer, nothing to look back on, not much fruit to see, on that day, believed. And that was enough.
After praying for her, I recited Psalm 23, a Psalm of God’s faithful love and protection over those who are His.
Because mom was an exacting perfectionist, I prayed something stupid: “Lord, when mom gets to Heaven, I hope she won’t be disappointed.”
Ridiculous! Mom will be astounded at the place God has prepared for her, a place where no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived of the things God has prepared for those who love him, a place where He will wipe every tear from her eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
“The Lord’s people will enjoy light in the hour of death,” wrote Charles Spurgeon. “Unbelief dreads the evening shadows, the darkening night, the end of existence. But no, cries faith, the night is almost over and the true day is at hand. Light has come, the light of immortality, the light of the Father’s radiant face.
“Gather your feet up in the bed; see the waiting throng of angels ready to bear you away. Farewell loved one, you are gone. You wave your hand and it is light! The pearly gates are open; the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We cover our eyes, but you behold the unseen; adieu, dear friend, you have light at evening time that we have not yet.”
When the nurses called my sister yesterday to tell her that it wouldn’t be long before Mom passed, she rushed down to the convalescent home right away. Sadly, she found evidence of neglect and abuse when the Hospice workers came in to do their final inspection.
Via speaker phone, I blessed my mama and told her how much I loved her, trusting she heard my words. I reminded her that I will see her again in a few minutes, because there is no time in Heaven.
“We are not far from home; a moment will bring us there. Do not think that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory: When the eyes close on earth, they open in Heaven. It is blessed to die in the Lord. It is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment from Heaven, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones are already living.” (Charles Spurgeon)
I love you mom. Thank you.
I’ll fly away, oh, Glory
I’ll fly away
When I die,
Hallelujah, by and by
I’ll fly away