It’s with a heavy heart that my first post back since our 40th anniversary celebration in Hawaii is about the untimely death of Janet’s mother, Nancy Boyd, during our absence. I’m sure that I will tell you about our anniversary in the near future, but tonight has to be about Nancy.
The chain of events leading to her passing unfolded quite rapidly. We left for Honolulu on Tuesday, August 20th and arrived late that afternoon. Someday on Wednesday, Nancy fell, which has happened more frequently this year, and by the end of the week her condition included the onset of pneumonia and on Sunday, the day after our anniversary, Janet actually spoke to her mother from Maui. Apparently, soon after, Nancy’s condition worsened and she passed away – something that nobody, including the doctors, ever anticipated.
We made arrangements to return to Williamsburg for the memorial service, left the ship and flew back to Richmond, VA through Honolulu and Dallas. I was privileged to be a part of the service on Wednesday afternoon. Nancy was not only a great wife to John and wonderful mother to Janet and her sisters, she was also a grandmother and great-grandmother. To say that Janet and I were surprised at her death is an understatement. Neither of us expected that we would return early to such a sad event.
Now I can sit here and tell you that Nancy is in a far better place, which she is, but that doesn’t diminish the pain and the hurt of losing a loved one. Janet and her sisters have exhibited a wonderful attitude this whole time and as I sit here and remember Nancy, I am reminded that I have known her since 1959, when I was a little guy – in fact, I knew Nancy longer than I knew my own mother who passed away in 1998. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-law.
Sure – I know people make fun of their in-laws but I couldn’t have done better. Both John and Nancy have loved me well and make me a welcome member of the family since Janet and I were married 40 years ago. Janet’s sisters have treated me with dignity and respect and all this is a result of Nancy being the glue that held everything together. There’s no question that John was the patriarch, but Nancy once told me that she liked things “nice and easy.” She wasn’t confrontational and has always been one of my biggest supporters.
As I mentioned during the memorial service, Nancy didn’t like to be alone. In fact, I don’t recall her spending a single night alone in all the time I knew her. If John was out of town, or ill in the hospital, she would come and stay with us or one of Janet’s sisters. I started to think about this in relation to the dying process. After all, we are taught that we are born alone and that we will die alone – but that’s not true. The Bible is very clear that God sends His angels to guard us and to protect us – even accompany us to heaven.
One of my favorite classes in seminary was angelology – the study of the ministry of angels. And one of the things that I learned early on is that God sends His angels to escort believers to heaven. Yep – we don’t die alone – we have God’s messengers taking us to heaven. How cool is that… I’m sure that Nancy has now experienced that for herself. Janet’s sisters were quick to point out that the end was quiet and peaceful – or, as Nancy would say, “nice and easy.” I can’t help but wonder how the angels greeted her as they came to escort her home. And I can’t even imagine what God said when she met Him face to face.
Nancy always said that her favorite post was the one I wrote on 9/7/11 – entitled “Face to Face.” She actually called me the day after it posted told me how much she missed our discussions “face to face” – and how it would be to meet God in person. Now she knows… Tonight’s verse is one of my favorites from the Psalms – Psalm 91:9-16. We learn about God’s angels and how they protect us from harm. And trust me on this one – there are many verses on the ministries of angels. We are told, “If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge— then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone….. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” This is one of the readings that I used at Nancy’s service.
My encouragement this evening is that you should know that God will also send His angels to guard and protect you. In fact, we are told that angels are the only created beings who are higher than believers on earth, yet serve us in heaven. And God lets us know that His messengers will escort us to heaven when the time comes. My prayer is that in times of trouble you will turn to the Father and pour out your heart to Him. He’s listening… and so is His Son, our risen Savior. More tomorrow – in the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…