Life is uncertain. We begin this new year fully aware that it could be our last. Young wife and mother Kara Tippets knows that it will be her last year. This month could even be her last month. Kara has stage four terminal cancer. After a long hospitalization she went home for Christmas, and to begin hospice care. Kara is the author of The Hardest Peace (David C. Cook Publishers, 2014), and has been blogging about her illness and her faith in Jesus at http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com and at http://www.facebook.com/mundanefaithfulness . The following piece is adapted from her December 29, 2014 entry.
I woke slowly this morning. From my vantage point in bed, I was able to see the sunrise. My baby was curled in the stretch of my back and I could hear the crackle the fire my guy had built downstairs. I didn’t have the strength to travel to his side, but I loved the comfort of hearing him; knowing he was using the quiet to speak with Jesus about our story, our hearts, and our children. There is a constant pulse of an IV the doctor sent me home with Friday. The horizon outside my window was mostly gray; a snow is promised in the day’s forecast. For a moment, a beautiful pink filled the horizon, and then it suddenly faded back to gray. It felt like a gift to watch and see this simple moment…
I am thinking a lot lately about the living we do. We live by degrees, and now I’m learning how we also die by degrees, and in it all there is beauty… How do we move beyond our comfort and into a realm greater than our understanding? We find a comfort in Jesus, and in knowing His love… It takes courage. It causes heartache at times, but there is always a return. Loving big always grows a spirit in strength, a strength that causes the spirit to continue to try.
I am learning what it is to die by degrees. Parts of my are body failing, and parts of my abilities are vanishing, and what then? Yesterday, I kept thinking, “Some time ago I drove for the last time and I did not even realize it was the last time.” I don’t remember the last time in the drivers seat. I just realized now I will never again drive. It is one event that marks the fading of a life, and I have no feeling other than wonder over the fact that it’s over. That chapter is over… And there will be other strengths that will languish…
I listened to my husband make the impossible phone call this morning. He called hospice. He told him that his young wife was dying. They were gentle and gave us a time they would be here to meet with us. That is a call you never expect when you are still getting your footing on living and loving and confidence in faith and who you are. But our hands have been pulled off of our story, and peace enters. Jason walked into the room and said, “I did what I needed to today.” He called Hospice because I am dying.
So, there it is. My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have, is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well; living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my loved ones close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray about my hopes and fears for them. I get to laugh and cry and wonder about heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus, and He will provide the courage I need. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, and His love, will cover us all. And it will carry us in ways we cannot comprehend. My story is a good story, even when it feels so broken.
Will you trust Jesus with us? Love us today by imagining how you can press love deeper into the place you live, extending yourself into the corners of your world in a way that shines with the light of Jesus. Give away what was never yours to keep. Love us by not meeting our story in pity, but pray that Jesus would tenderly meet us as we walk these hard steps together. Will you walk in grace with us to my last breath? Will you trust that Jesus knows the moments, He holds the moments, and He will take me away to the land of no more tears at exactly the right moment; and He will also shepherd and love my family after that last breath.
Psalm 90:12 — Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Romans 14:7-9 — For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
John 14:1-3 — (Jesus said), “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
This prayer is from Kara’s December 22, 2014 entry:
Dearest Jesus, would you hear the heavy cries of our hearts? Will you accept our feeble attempts at worship through this season? Jesus, would you tenderly keep us and love us well? This is to be a time where we remember the humility it took for you to enter this place. But you did come,… and you overcame death, and in the power of that resurrection and that suffering, you showed us all grace. Yet, we are still dumb sheep, ever forgetting the true meaning of this season. Thank you for growing your beauty into my children. In their eyes I see many things: fear, worry, and uncertainty; but I always see love. Love has a way of rising to the surface if you let it. Lastly Jesus, would you let me go home for a bit to be wrapped in the love of my people?