God’s Love in the Final Moments of Life

#Retrospective, this post originally published June 19, 2018.

I watched as she gasped for breath, struggling to talk. A warm summer breeze blew through the open sliding door and ruffled a few loose strands of her gray hair. Nearby a pulsating machine pumped oxygen to her through a small hose with the end clipped to her nose. Somehow she managed to prop up her frail, thin body in the living room chair.

She was dying and yet this feisty woman I had known for years was still very present. She didn’t care for the help hospice offered and she told the social worker to leave. She was tired of people asking, “How are you doing?” She was tired of people visiting her. She was tired and just wanted to be alone, yet she let me sit there with her and listen to her complaints.

This was often how my visits with her would go. Yet with each visit over the last six years she would open up a little more about her troubled past; about the trauma she experienced in her life. She would share her anger and frustration with family, friends and workers in the assisted living place. Sometimes we would talk about religion and faith, but she would always stop discussing it when it became personal. I could never quite get her to the point of talking about having Jesus in her life.

In these final moments of her life I longed for her to know the peace of Christ, but she would not have it. I hoped that in some way I was able to at least help her experience the love of God just by sitting with her and listening to her. After about 45 minutes she told me she was tired and apologized that she wasn’t better company. I told her it was okay, gave her aged and frail body a gentle hug and said, “Love you.”

Then this tough, old woman, who told me she would rather be alone, said to me in a strained voice, “Love you too. Thanks for stopping by.” I smiled and repeated, “Love you.” As I left the room I wondered if it would be the last time I would see her. I was sad that I was not able to get her to see that Jesus Christ could give her the peace she longed for in her life.

Later, when I talked about this visit with someone, they assured me that just being with her was showing the love of God. “But I have no idea whether she is saved or not?” That’s when she told me, “Salvation is not a formula. God is a much better judge of the heart. Just be glad that God invited you to join him in his work.” She was right. I only needed to be grateful that I was able to be there with her.

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. – Psalm 39:4-5 (NIV)

© 2018 Chris G. Thelen

23 thoughts on “God’s Love in the Final Moments of Life

  1. A beautiful post, it had me reliving the last days of my dear mum. I miss her dearly but she is with her Lord in a lovely place.

    1. I just lost my mum last October. This post reminded me of her last days. I pray the Lord will comfort you as you grieve your loss. Blessings.

  2. “Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” 1 Timothy 5:25

    There are hidden joys to be gathered in the day of judgment and rewards for the faithful. Not one tear, not one expression of love will go unnoticed. The ONE who saw the woman with the mite will surely see the offerings of your heart.

    Love the story!

    1. That ‘s a great verse. Thanks for sharing. My time with my step mother in-law in her final moments was a real blessing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Blessings to you.

    1. So true. God is ever present. It reminds me of Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

  3. In your obedience to God, you were the hands and feet of Christ to this dear woman, Christ. You never quite got her to talk about Jesus but His love poured through your life and into hers.
    I grew up Baptist. Every conversion experience had to be a “Paul on the road to Damascus” event. Yet this isn’t everyone’s experience.

    1. I believe God is very creative in how he reaches people. So many times he has presented me with an unexpected opportunity to share the gospel from my heart in a way no formula could address. People want to know it’s real. Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

  4. I love your quote, “Salvation is not a formula. God is a much better judge of the heart. Just be glad that God invited you to join him in his work.” I have had the privilege in the past – and so your story really touched my heart. Thank you for sharing. God bless you!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. It is such a privilege to be invited to join God where he is at work. We just need to be constantly aware of His work and obedient to His call. Blessings.

  5. Jesus respects us so much he will not force us to love him. Jesus gives each of us that great privilege and terrible responsibility to choose for ourselves if we want to return the love He has lavished on us. My greatest joy comes from when those I love choose Jesus. My greatest sorrow is when they choose “themselves.” This is Jesus’ experience as well.

  6. Thank you for this post. My best friend died in March and I had gone weekly. She was in a lot of pain and taking a lot of meds. I did my best to tell her about the Lord, but she wanted to talk about her grandchildren and the past good times she had had. When I left her on Thursday the 15th, I sobbed in my husband’s arms, knowing in my heart that it was the last time that I would see Heidi. She was moved into hospice the next afternoon and died that night. I was inconsolable because I didn’t know if she had the peace of knowing Christ or not. God spoke to my heart that He is the final judge and He is a God of mercy and grace.

    1. I am saddened to hear about the loss of your best friend. It is so difficult when we cannot share our walk with Jesus with those we love. Thank you for sharing. Yes, we have to leave it in God’s hands for indeed he is a God of mercy and grace. I pray you will feel the peace of Christ as you continue to grieve.

  7. Sacred moments that affirmed all we can offer is His love. Christ pursued in each gentle session of listening to her grieve. Her battle over, we don’t know how she met Him on the final hill. Be at peace, friend. You were faithful.

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