The last rays of light were a riot of orange, yellow and red. Broad brushstrokes of brilliant amber, painted over a cobalt sky, swirled overhead from a horizon aflame, gilt-edged with rolling gold.
With the last light reflecting on the still rock pools before me, I sat awe-struck on the shore. What a glorious way for the day to come to its end, Lord, in such splendour.
I thought of the many lives I have seen who too, with the Lord’s touch, breathed their last in glory………….
Patricia had cancer. After a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which ravaged her body and depleted her emotional resources, she decided it was time to be comfortable and look forward to meeting Jesus.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Anglican who had been filled with the Holy Spirit, she combined quiet, reverend worship with quiet, bubbling joy. Christened as a baby, she desired to be fully immersed — an open expression of her love for her Saviour. Yet she was as emaciated as a Holocaust victim and as weak as a kitten. One day, a group of her friends helped her to the bathroom in her house and she was baptised in her bath. She emerged radiant, praising God that in her last days she could show her love through obedience to the whisper of the Spirit.
Two weeks later she was admitted to hospital. Since I was working there, I visited her every day and prayed with her. I could see she was deteriorating fast and there were times when she was suffering, but her talk was cheerful, optimistic.
Then one day, I went to her and she was uncharacteristically down. “I have had such a bad night, Dave I hardly slept.” I waited for her to tell me about her discomfort.
“The poor girl two rooms away has no-one to visit her. She is very ill and needs someone to be with her. I cannot go. Please, leave me. I’ll be alright. Go and see her and pray with her.”
At that moment, invisibly, the glory came. One could not see it, but I know the angels were bowing in wonder. In the heavens the sky was lit with brilliance as a daughter of the King breathed out the last flickers of the light of her life on earth agonising over the suffering of another. Just like her King.
And there were others.
There was Marion, terrified when she first arrived for her operation, chest rigid from emphysema, taking little gasps in a frail attempt to suck the oxygen from the air; yet favoured by God as we prayed, His Spirit descending and giving her a joy and confidence that stayed with her even as she chatted through her operation under a spinal anaesthetic.
Now, with the onset of complications, she chose to die in dignity rather than with a myriad of tubes, life support, and harsh, bleeping monitors.
As we prayed while her life’s light faded and she breathed her last, Jesus came tangibly into the room to fetch her. Never have I felt His presence more as, like an invisible sunset, Princely Peace settled in the room; a peace felt by all who entered, while, later that day, Marion took His hand to be ushered into the presence of the Father.
Then there was Jason, six years old and unconscious; dying, with no known treatment. As the father and I prayed, like the sunset breathing out its last light in glory, his light faded and he was with Jesus. The glory came to his father, standing by his bed; an agonising glory, sharing in the suffering of Christ, yet knowing that his beloved son was with the Beloved Son.
I sat by the shore a long time; till the brush strokes became grey once more and the glow faded from the horizon. I sat thinking of the tragedy that conceals a glory. The light fades and night comes, yet it comes with the promise of a new burst of light; a new day and a new beginning.
Each of my patients and friends breathed their last; yet it was not their last. As the sun faded, the Son was rising.