“Mama, are you going to die tonight?”
“No, not tonight.”
“What about Daddy? Is he going to die tonight?”
“No.”
“When? When are you all going to die?”
“Doll Baby, we all have to die sometime. But Daddy and I are not going to die tonight. Hush, now. Go to sleep. I’m here.”

Every night it was the same conversation. Each time, my mother was patient sitting on my bedside, waiting for me to go to sleep before she left the room.

I was just a babe back then and outgrew her bedtime assurances. But the fear of her death haunted me all my life.

If I had only thought to ask my mother the same questions the last time I saw her back in October. Could she have told me? Would she have told me she was getting ready to die?

For months, I have asked myself where is my mother? Night time; bedtime is the worst time. I see her face and remember her voice, laughter and oh there is so much I remember. I can no longer pick up the phone and hear her voice giving me that instant assurance that she is alright. Where is she, God?

Painful words to have to speak — but I say them anyway — for they are true; the day will come when it will not matter to me where she is. 

But for now, it is a type of torment to wonder where a loved one is after leaving this earth. See, a few weeks before she died, she and I were talking about the things of God. Well, at least I was trying to. She had brought the subject up and I tried to take it to salvation. She was getting irritated. And even told me, “Maybe, I’m going to hell.” She said it kind of angry and kind of bitter. I felt something like ice go through me and a wall went up. How Lord do I respond to this? I had no words. So we dropped the subject.

I did not know what she knew at the time…that her heart was at 40 percent capacity. I did not know the things she must have had on her mind. But God knew. No doubt, she was afraid and she was preparing to meet her Maker. She was not sounding a trumpet. It was as personal as the God she believed in. Most of her generation is like that: strong, silent, independent and determined.

We had talked many times over the past few years about salvation. She knew it was not church that saved anyone. She knew it was not being good enough that gave you entrance to heaven. She knew it was not having your name on a membership roll. She knew all these things. She knew that it was what Jesus did on the cross.

My mother was not someone I could fellowship with. The God she believed in was a personal God. As a precious sister pointed out to me: Our parent’s generation belief in God was personal. They didn’t sound trumpets. They just believed. 

I’m glad my mother did not have to contend with false teachers of the past few decades. She would have been believing in a jesus contrary to the Word of God. She knew a phony when she saw one and no way would she have acted a fool by getting drunk in the spirit, barking like a dog, clucking like a chicken, smoking the Holy Ghost or trying to have her best life now. Surely, if she had been a follower of any of the modern day heretics, I would have some real cause of alarm. Her belief in God was simple:  Jesus died on a cross for us and we can only hope we go to heaven.  

More than once — in my self-righteousness — I would tell her, “But Mom, we can have full assurance.”  I understand now. I understand what she meant. Too many times, we take salvation for granted. 

We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself, I’ve had some fear and trembling the past few months. Yet, still not enough or I would find it in myself to repent for every wrong thought or thing I do. Like my mother before me, I fall upon the mercy of God.

God is not a fair God. It was not fair that His only begotten Son had to die for MY sins. Yet, at the same time, God is a just God. He sees all and knows all. All through her life, He saw my mother’s heart. The past few months of her life, He knew what was in her. He saw how she was preparing herself to meet Him. Looking back, even I can see it now. If I had not been so wrapped up in what I believed was going to take place in the world at the time, I may have seen it then. But I didn’t see it and as one friend told me: “It was probably meant that way. If you had known, I don’t think you could have handled it.”

So, I lay in bed and wonder. I ask God, where is she? I get no answer. All I get is; when we see Him face to face we shall be like Him. That is when it will not matter to me anymore.

When we become just like Him, we will have the justice of God so ingrained in us that any preceived notions of what we believe to be right and wrong will no longer matter.

Did you know that in hell there is love? Yes, it is true. The rich man who asked Abraham to give him just a drop of water also begged him tell his loved ones about the place he was in. He loved them so such that he did not want them there with him!  

I have comforted myself the past few months in remembering the last few weeks of her life. A subtle change had taken place in her. She became kind of sweet. Kind of soft. She still had her days of not feeling well, days of being stubborn as a mule and spunky to the point that her children did not know how to deal with her, but it was if a part of her had resigned herself in trusting something greater than herself and greater than those around her.   

I have comforted myself the past few months in remembering not how good of a person my mother was. But in the fact that she knew the simple truth: Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.      

One thing I do know — no matter where she is — if she could speak to me, she would tell me: Tell them. Tell my children and all those who loved me the truth. Tell all of humanity. Tell them about Jesus. Tell them the truth.

Until that day, when I see my Savior and Redeemer face-to-face, I will always wonder where loved ones are, after they depart from this earth.  But until then, I continue to comfort myself with this thought: When I can not understand His hand, I will trust His heart.

His heart for my mother was this: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. — Jeremiah 29:11,12 —

I can not help but believe that the last few weeks of my mother’s life she called upon the Lord in ways that she never had before. She was a strong gutsy woman full of vim and vinegar. Yet, she reached a point in her life where nothing and no one else would do, but God. A place where we all will reach sooner or later. 

It has taken me months to write this. I still have not done the truth justice. Someday, when we see Him face-to-face, when we will be like Him, ALL things will be revealed. But until then, I will trust in Him. His ways are higher than mine and He is perfect in all of His ways. 

My mother was right. We have such a beautiful hope in God. His mercies are new every morning. Our life truly is but a vapor. Nothing really matters but the truth. The truth is God loved my mother, saw her heart in all things, knew her inside and out, and He IS a righteous judge of us all.

May God be exalted in times of grief!

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