Within the past ten days we have lost three friends. Lost is not the best word, and we’re often prone not to use the word died, but passed doesn’t seem right either. Church emails report about those who have gone on to glory or who have joined their loved ones in heaven. I prefer the word used by John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress when he recorded the death of Faithful. He was transported.
On the same Sunday two of our friends, Barbara Wright and Bob Kumpf, were transported from earth to heaven. Barbara had been in the hospital and rehab for a long time, but when we saw her last summer it was a joy to see her smiling face and how she actively enjoyed her company. Her husband visited her almost daily. So while it was no surprise to learn of her death, it meant the end of our relationship with her on earth. She hosted many a great meal at their home so that her husband could do what he loved best – converse with friends. Bob’s death was a surprise, for we didn’t know of any illness. A friend reported to us his passing and also the beautiful memorial service. Bob, active with Emmaus, also had a mission and pastoral heart. He loved family and friends.
A little over a week later my special friend Sheila Oliver died after a long bout with cancer. She never complained, but her suffering and pain are no more. I say she was special, because we had a relationship built on trust. She liked to phone and talk about family and church. When I was the editor of the WGC newsletter, Sheila was my proofer. She did not want me to publish that, for fear that she might miss something, especially a name. Now the truth is out.
We will miss our friends, but grateful for how our relationships developed over the years. We pray for their family and rejoice in our Lord’s promise of eternal life. We can only imagine their transport and joy to be with their Savior and Lord.