By Mary Alice Dress Baumgardner
As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.
On a bleak, February afternoon, my father, brother, sister and I gathered around Mother's hospital bed. We had just received her test results and were stunned by the report. Not only did she have a brain tumor, but also an inoperable tumor between her lungs. With cobalt treatments, she might have three more months to live. Chemotherapy was ruled out.
"I have always tried to live a good life, but I have committed one big sin," Mother said, her brown eyes looking up at us. "I love God so very much. But," she drew a deep breath, and continued, "I loved my family more."
Sitting up straighter, Mother whispered resolutely, "Whatever time I have left, I want to use serving God."
My father, brother, sister, and I sought the help of the Divine Physician. On Palm Sunday, two days after her last cobalt treatment, we helped Mother out of bed and took her to a Healing Service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, Maryland. Later, she told us that she knew "something happened" when Dr. Norris Wogan prayed for her.
We saw no immediate results. But we believed.
Mother phoned me in June to report that the chest X-ray showed "no signs of any tumor!"
In July, she called to say that her CAT scan showed no evidence of any brain tumor. "The doctor said it has just 'melted away' honey," she said. "God has healed me!"
For the next two years, Mother spoke at many churches, sharing her story, giving praise and glory to Jesus for healing her. We were astonished at her ability to speak before large groups. She amazed us with her energy and joy.
But something happened. Something no one understood. The doctors could find no medical explanation, nor could any clergy; nor could we. Somehow, symptoms began to return. No longer able to walk or take care of herself, she spent the last year of her life in a nursing home. I often visited her and would read the Bible to her. Sometimes I would prop her up in a wheelchair and take her to the Community Room, where I played the piano and sang the hymns we loved.
I could not understand what had happened to her. I prayed, "Dear Lord, if You are ready to take Mom home to Heaven, please let me know." But my faith continued to be strong that she would be healed again. I could not grieve over the circumstances because I could picture the day when she would come home and all this would be like a bad dream.
I thanked Jesus for being with us. I was able to find joy even in those darkest of days. I thanked Him for giving me "the peace that passes understanding." I trusted Him.
During the year Mother had been in the nursing home, she had difficulty speaking and had done no writing. Eventually, she became totally unresponsive. On February 20, 1980, she went home to be with the Lord.
As we were getting things together for her funeral, Dad opened her dresser drawer and discovered a piece of paper on top of her lingerie. All year, he had been in and out of that dresser drawer, taking things to her in the nursing home. The paper had not been there before, and Mother had not been home.
But on this slip of paper, in Mother's perfect handwriting, was a message: "When I die, please have this passage read: I Thessalonians 4:13-18." We rushed to get the Bible and we read:
But we would not have you ignorant... concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope... the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Amazed, we reread the passage.
Smiling through his tears, Dad looked at us and whispered, "An angel!"
~Mary Alice Dress Baumgardner.