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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The end of Emy’s odyssey

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For the past few days I’ve been reading Homer’s “The Odyssey.” Today, as I was finishing the story, I got word that a dear lady in our church, Emy, had gone to be with the Lord.

Emy had been battling cancer for a long time. Though doctors had told her there was nothing else they could do for her, Emy maintained her joyful, upbeat attitude. Our church prayed for Emy and her husband Jim regularly, and we lifted them to the Lord in our family devotion time as well.

But for Emy, her constant prayer requests – even as she navigated the final weeks of her life – were often requests for others, and not for herself. She’d ask the church to pray for her doctors and surgeons, not that they would know how to treat her, but that they would be open and receptive to the gospel through her witness. She asked the same for others to whom she was witnessing. She led regular Bible studies at a local shelter for abused women longer than anyone would have dared to imagine, given her physical condition.

I didn’t know Emy well, but from what I observed about her, I came to the conclusion long ago that she was a true model of godliness and holiness. Our church will miss her and feel her departure deeply.

As I wrapped up “The Odyssey,” I thought about how the story is such a poignant example of life for the Christian. Odysseus spent 20 years away from home, desperately longing to return to his beloved Ithaca. Throughout his wanderings, he encountered adventure after adventure, from the massive Cyclops to the luring sirens, from the dreadful Scylla and Charybdis to the enticing goddess Calypso. But no matter where his travels took him, and no matter what fantastic places he visited, he always desired Ithaca more than anything else.

Similarly, our lives, no matter how different they may be, are nonetheless full of obstacles and adventures. Some may have greater challenges and difficulties than others, as Emy did over the past several years. Her life was not an easy one. But like Odysseus, Emy never lost sight of her final destination. Today, as her life on this earth ended, she finally reached the shores of her heavenly Ithaca — a home for which she has been longing — where she will forever be with the Lord, who has been her heart’s greatest desire.

May her spirit, her faith and her love for God and the church spur us who remain to follow her example.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” – Psalm 116:15

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