My mother wants to die, and there’s no talking her out of it. Why would I want to talk her out of it anyway? Why wouldn’t a Christian of a certain age “rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, ESV)?
So I empathized but pointed out the very next verse after the apostle Paul’s expressed preference to go home: “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”
My mother asked, more to challenge than to inquire, how she could make it her aim to please Him when she hardly leaves the bed all day. I replied with what the Bible says about old women and widows:
“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers, night and day” (1 Timothy 5:5).
That’s how a woman can please God, even in her bed: prayer and supplication. The advice was not concrete enough for my mother. We drew up a list. One was a praise list, and I made it a game. My first entry was “Beautiful day” (it was sunny and 80 degrees). She then offered, “No rain.” My turn: “Aimee’s leaf quilt on the wall, French doors, a balcony, hanging fuchsia, a spacious room.” After a while I added, “Forgiveness,” and Mom said that was the best one. I was glad.
“Is there anyone you need to forgive?” I inquired. “I did that already,” she replied peremptorily.
I asked, “OK. Is there anything that needs to go?” (In a court of law I might have been accused of leading the witness at this point.) I suggested a critical spirit toward my father, and she did not object. “It has to go,” I told her, adding:
“… to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard …” (Colossians 1:22–23, ESV).
Mom asked, “Isn’t God supposed to do all that for me in the blink of an eye?” (As in, “Leave me alone; I’m saved.”) I pushed back with Scripture that it is a process He wants to happen now, by the faith and suffering method, not by the anesthesia method:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved …” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV).
It is why you are still down here and not up there, I argued. There are no empty days with God, only days of “his kindness and forbearance and patience … meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Then after a while I went home to do my work, and my mother, I presume, commenced on hers.