5 04 2016

The other day I got in my Chevy Cruze and made the long drive up the snowy Garden State Parkway to get to the northern part of New Jersey which happens to be the area that I was born and grew up in. The reason for my journey was to visit a childhood friend that I used to live just two streets over from in the Morris County town called Cedar Knolls. I wish I could say that it was for a happy reason that I reconnected in person with Aprile. But unfortunately that terrible disease that begins with a “C” has wreaked havoc in the Predmore Family. There are only so many things you can write in a Facebook message. Some moments must be experienced face to face.

 I have to tell you that my former Junior High classmates are an amazing breed. Jan, Vivian, Melba and other talented women put together what they have labeled, “The Traveling Quilt.” Put together by bits of material donated by its participants, the quilt has been sent to those who receive it in a time of special need. Accompanying it is a journal where the recipients share memories of yesteryear and anecdotes of the present. There is also a “Male” version of the bon voyage blanket making its rounds which includes a piece of New York Mets memorabilia from Yours Truly. As divine love would plan it, the Ladies quilt arrived at the same time I did and while I am in no way as beautifully put together as their tapestry of love, I did come with a heart full of gratitude for a wonderful gal that is courageously navigating her way through a challenging diagnosis.

 Even though I am a Pastor who is directionally challenged and too stubborn to humble myself and use a GPS gadget, after my typical time of wandering aimlessly up by the Newark Airport, I did finally arrive at my destination. Flanked by my Fifth Grade Buddy Jan who was actually taller if not smarter than me back at Mountainview Road School and her hubby Mike whose brother John was a part of my congregation when I was a Minister in Randolph, we greeted Aprile’s spouse Ed and her teary eyed daughter Nicole at the front door. I knew right away we were on holy ground. Having already been assigned to Hospice care, it took a little while for Aprile to come out and be with us but when she finally did, I could see the glow in her eyes in spite of the frailty of her body. When we hugged, Aprile said to me, “You are much taller than I remember.” That comment made me laugh out loud since I hadn’t seen her since I was twelve years old!

 She got herself settled in the hospital bed in the living room and Janette immediately presented Aprile with the quilt. Even though I was intensely shy back in my junior high days, last Tuesday I was bold and courageous in expressing my heart and faith with my childhood comrade. I prayed that through me, Aprile would sense God’s presence in the midst of her pain. I hoped that she would know that the Lord had not abandoned her in this her greatest time of need. I shared with her my own trials and tribulations and season of sufferings and how hard this crazy world can be but nothing that this earth has thrown at me had been able to separate me from the infinite love of God.

 I have to share with you all an insight that God had given me lately. The reason we have internal struggles at times is because we were created to be eternal. God made us to live in relationship with him. Sin threw a wrench into that communion and we have been struggling ever since. Only by grace via faith can any of this chaos make sense. Only biblical belief gives purpose to our suffering. Only our trust in the resurrection gives us any hope after we die. Our physical bodies are passing away. From the moment we were born, we were destined to die! But have you ever noticed that it is only our outer self that is passing away? Does your Spirit ever feel like it is aging and falling apart? The answer is a definitive, “No!” Even in our elderly stage, we still feel like we are seventeen in the soul! This is because we are spiritual beings! When we die, only our bodies are left behind to be buried. Our immaterial selves have graduated somewhere! When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life and he that believes in me even though he dies, yet he will live!” makes all the sense in the world to those of us who have become dependent upon the Lord for our every move. Because of Jesus and all that he did for us, Aprile’s days are not numbered at all. The last breath she will take here will be her first breath in a new location and in that environment; all that has hindered us here will be kicked to the curb for good! The things that steal, kill and destroy will be no more! And that is the day I am longing for because I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! And I can’t wait to arrive at the venue where we will never have to say, “Goodbye” again.

 Every day Aprile has this side of heaven I will fight on my knees for her life. I know God only has to say the word and she could be miraculously healed for more adventures on this planet. But let us look closely at the words of our prayers. Ultimate healing will be heaven for me! If I get to be in the presence of Jesus and dwell in a paradise that is perfect in every way; don’t waste a tear crying for me and don’t you dare resuscitate me! I don’t want to spend just ninety minutes in glory! I want to remain there forever and a day!

 Life is a precious gift and most of us wait until it’s too late to get our priorities straight. Priorities are love God first and then love others! Worshiping stuff and wasting hours acquiring junk you can’t keep anyway is overrated. Only one life will soon be past and only what is invested in eternity will last. Please pray for my friend Aprile. Pray for relief from her pain and for wonderful hours multiplied miraculously as she spends memorable minutes with her family and loved ones! And please don’t wait until cancer or some other disease darkens your door before you turn on the light bright in your life! It may be February on the calendar but today is Aprile’s day and because of her courageous countenance etched in my mind- I celebrate her and all of my blessed friendships made even more meaningful by my relationship with my God.   




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