I love to hear from readers–especially when they agree with what I’ve written! The following is from a woman who read the Christianity Today excerpt of The Art of Dying. For her, witnessing an elderly person in her congregation and going to her funeral had a profound impact on the younger woman’s life.
I’ve attended my current church for more than 15 years. For a long time, I’d watch a woman in her 80s slowly make her way around the church on her walker. She was quite stooped and would have to look up to greet people, which she always did with a smile and a pleasant greeting. To pay tribute to her, I want to use her name: Marge Sager.
Six years ago Marge was in a bad car accident when someone hit her. In trying to put her back together, doctors found her to be full of cancer. They put her in hospice.
Marge soon died. At the funeral, I was astonished to learn about this faithful servant of God. She worked in jail ministry forever. She also served in prison ministry until the very end of her life. She corresponded with "her women" for decades. Hundreds of them.
Based on her cancer, she must have been in great pain for a long time. No one ever suspected it; she was always "fine." She was always concerned for others and refused to talk about herself.
Just as you write in your article, I left Marge’s funeral thinking long and hard about my life. I’d been involved in ESL ministry for years and loved every single student at first sight. I was/am also totally smitten with my Lord Jesus Christ.
Leaving Marge’s funeral, I said to the Lord, I’m 57 years old. What if I live 30 more years, like Marge (and my mother)? It’s not at all too late to equip myself for better service to the Kingdom. So I enrolled in a Master’s program in ESL. It was brutal; my tears and despair would fill a well. But my teaching is much improved and that gives me a strong platform for biblical input in every class. Students want to be in my classes. I do Bible storying in my classes.
I’m 62 now and having the time of my life. My students include Buddhists who are very close to coming to Jesus, and a Muslim couple whom I’m sure will come to the Lord. Just today I had an email from a friend of a friend in Taiwan. The woman is not a Christian and I don’t know her. She asked if I would consider giving her daughter practice in writing English through Bible stories, online.
Thank you, Marge Sager, for my degree and for expanding my outreach.
The second lesson I took away from Marge’s funeral was not to drag others down with my aches and pains – not even my family. That’s not easy, but I do want to emulate her in this. Others. Focus on others.
You wrote, "At a funeral, ‘you get these coordinates’ to position yourself in life…" I repositioned my coordinates as a direct result of Marge Sager’s funeral. I pray that God will allow me to serve Him faithfully until the end of my days, whenever that might be, as Marge did.