Thursday, June 21, 2012

O Death, Where Is Your Victory?


O Death, Where Is Your Victory?

On June 6, 2012, Anna Ruth (Senders) Riley’s days on earth came to an end.  Receiving word of Momma’s death was bitter-sweet news.  Having always been strong and vivacious, it was heart-breaking to watch the Alzheimer’s progress as the days passed.  As empty as life feels without her, it is a relief to know that the debilitation has come to an end.

Amazingly, in all her confusion and memory loss, Momma never forgot the faces of her six children.  She’d forget that we’d come to visit five minutes after we left, but she always knew who we were when we came.  We were the apples of her eye, even to the very end.

Life was difficult for Momma.  Her childhood was unstable and married life brought no reprieve.  After seventeen years of painful loyalty, she packed-up her six children hoping to leave the insecurity behind.  While raising us alone was over-whelming, Momma worked hard to provide the security that we all needed.  It was obvious to all who knew her that Momma’s life revolved around her “babies”.

At the visitation, family and friends came to offer their condolences to the six of us while Momma lifelessly rested at the end of the room disconnected from all that was going on around her.  My husband, Gary sadly, but accurately pointed out that this was a stark picture of her last number of years; however… it isn’t the end of her story!

The next day, at Momma’s funeral, her love for Jesus was proclaimed.  We were all reminded that her strength and security was found in Him.  The vitality which she demonstrated was credited to her Savior.  The Source of her strength was pronounced and the Hope of her resurrection was declared.  While Momma’s earthly body remained lifeless, the Life that dwelled within her was very present.  I can’t imagine anyone leaving that service without feeling connected to Momma and hearing that, “Jesus is Lord!”

Indeed, Momma had a gift of bringing laughter, fun and creativity into most any setting she encountered.  She always looked for joy in life and, even through all the hardships, she demonstrated an undeniable strength.  Consequently, leaving Momma behind has always been difficult for me.  Stepping away from her one last time was no different.  While she’d not really been “present” for a number of years, the graveside brought a deep penetrating awareness that the security which she provided and her excitement for life were fast asleep.  It seemed that if I lingered by her side a bit longer, I wouldn’t have to face that reality.

After the funeral luncheon, Momma’s six children gathered together to read over her will and sort through her last few belongings.  Regardless of how much or how little is left behind, few families escape the anxiety produced from anticipating such moments.  Will everyone agree?  Will there be animosity?  Will unresolved issues come to a head?  Will the whole scene become a disgrace to Momma?  One never knows what reactions such strong emotions might trigger.  While Momma had minimal material resources, she would have been pleased to know how very much we inherited from her.  Not only were there no disagreements, love and respect was demonstrated, relationships reconciled, generosity offered and fairness sought.  We reminisced, we laughed, we cried and we encouraged one another in our pain.  The security which was handed down to us and the excitement for life that we’d inherited was alive in that room among Momma’s children.  What joy these treasures brought in the midst of our pain.

But… were do we turn from here?  We must stand firm in the Hope which Momma demonstrated so well.  We must cling to the promise that death has no power over those whom Jesus claims.  We must hold fast to the miracle that just as God brings life to a dead kernel of grain that has been sown in the ground, the lifeless body must first be buried in the grave before it can spring forth again in victory.

Momma’s body, deprived of all life was sown in weakness,
yet we must never forget that the day will soon come
when her grave will open
the bands of death will be loosed
she will be raised in power into new life!

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven,
with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and (Momma) will rise (to) be with the Lord forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
 thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55, 57



P.S.  Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at:  You may also contact me at:
             Bonnie Jaeckle
             In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
             Diagonal Progress
             505 Jefferson St.
             Diagonal, IA 50845

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