On The Journey, Judy Bowman

“Praying with the dying”

When we opened the door of his hospital room, we could hear his labored and uneven breathing. My friend’s uncle, now almost 90, was in his final battle with heart disease. I’d met him a few times over the years, but the man in the hospital bed looked little like the burly, overpowering man he’d been until the last few years. He was thin and gray, with his eyes closed, grasping at the sheets with bony fingers, using all his energy just to breathe. He hadn’t wanted his doctors to put him on a ventilator, so all he had helping him was an oxygen mask. I felt terrible, watching his agony.

But it was more than the hospital smell and the sound of his struggling breaths that was affecting me. There was a heavy, oppressive feeling to this room. Imagine gravity suddenly doubling and you’ll get the idea. The air itself seemed weighted and thick. It felt like I was being pushed down into my shoes. My friend felt it, too He slumped into the only chair and I saw his shoulders fall forward. I didn’t like being there. It felt wrong and somehow, ugly. You know how they say you can sense the presence of evil? I believe it. Not that I thought my friend’s uncle was an evil man. He’d always been pleasant enough to be around, if a little bit loud. I’d never felt this sort of darkness around him before. But then, he’d never been on his deathbed before. So, as the old man struggled with each breath, my friend and I prayed for him. I have the Divine Mercy app on my phone and we spent the next several minutes praying those beautiful words out loud. I’d like to say that the dark, oppressive feeling in the room disappeared right away. Or that my friend’s uncle sat up, fully healed and asking for pudding. But none of that happened. Instead, he died later that night, alone, in his hospital room.

In the Divine Mercy prayers, we ask for God’s mercy on us, on the person who is dying, and for everyone in the world. Our sins offend Him every day and yet His great mercy is so much more than the weight of those sins. God delights when we ask for that mercy. We put all our trust in His love for us, in His blood shed for us on the Cross, and in the hope of the resurrection. The prayers are comforting and tender and are among my favorite devotions. I think I’m drawn to them because I know the darkness of my own sins and how very much I need His mercy. It’s a grace when you know that you sin. A grace I don’t deserve.

As we prayed for him there at his bedside, I imagined the angels who knelt there, too and prayed along with us. Surely his uncle’s guardian angel was there, and others as well. Were there other spirits in the room, too? Darker energies who feast on despair and anger and loneliness? Maybe their presence was the oppression and heaviness we’d felt when we entered the room. I don’t know. Maybe it was just the nearness of death. Our voyage through this life and into the next one is a mysterious one.. The love of Christ is our hope and our light through a world that is often dark and sorrowful. And yet, even HIs infinite love for us is a mystery, as well. I know that being with anyone as they approach death is a privilege and grace. Praying for them as they journey out of this life is a gift that should never be refused, no matter the difficulty. When you have that chance, be there for them. Pray for the mercy of God and for the grace to love and forgive until each of us take our last breath here.

We weren’t there for him when he passed from this life, but I believe our prayers were. I believe the angels were there that night, long after visiting hours were over, keeping vigil and praying for his soul. No prayer is ever unheard by our Lord. That’s another mystery of our faith. One of the great gifts we share as Christians is praying for one another. Our words rise like the smoke of incense (Revelation 8:4) and are sweet and pleasing to Him. We’re all on this journey together and we need each other every step along the way. Don’t ever miss the opportunity to pray for a brother or sister as they pass on to eternity.

“We are all just walking each other home.” — Richard Alpert

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Sunday was a rainy day, but thank God for the rain. This area needed rain so badly. We rejoice in showers of blessing from God, both physical and spiritual.

Pastor Flood brought a message for the need of revival. The world, and indeed, America, is in great need of spiritual revival. Revival is not a series of meetings. Although, meetings and the preaching of God’s Word are instruments of revival. True spiritual revival is the moving and convicting power of God’s Holy Spirit upon the hearts of His children. Revival begins with God’s house and moves forward seeing others come to know Christ and become part of God’s family. True spiritual revival by the work of the Holy Spirit is a refreshing, renewing, and dedication to the things of God surpassing our own desires. Why, then, does revival not last? The presence of God always indwells the believer, but it is a wonderful blessings to be aware of His spirit moving among and about us! Life is always laced with problems, issues, struggles, and the routine of life.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. He was not the Christ. He was the witness of Christ to come. John the Baptist had his own disciple following. They revered and respected Him. When he began speaking of Christ and to state clearly he was not Christ, they questioned, who could make them righteous or pure? (John 3:25) Who were they to follow? Following or belief ian John would bring them no good. Following, believing in Christ would bring eternal life. When one realizes they are a sinner, their first question is how can I make this right? The truth is they cannot make it right only Christ can and does if they accept Him as their Savior. John 3:27 teaches, “a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven”. Who makes right? Jesus!

The answer to spiritual revival is God. His Holy Spirit reviving and restoring. Not meetings or the speaker. John 3:30 gives the answer to lasting revival in lives, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. Lasting revival is not about the person. The saved have been bought with a price and life is not their own. The saved person must decrease if Christ is to ever increase in their lives. Increase comes from heaven. The saved are in Him, and He is in those saved. What is life? All are spiritually dead without Christ. There is no life outside of God. Man was created by God out of a lump of clay and He, God, then breathed life into man and man became a living soul. Saved or unsaved, life comes from God. Revival comes from the Spirit of God when His children surrender and confess sin. Revival last when Christ increases and we, Christians, decrease!

Continue to pray with us and for us. Pray for those suffering illness and disease. Pray for the ministry of Pleasant Valley Baptist. Pray for missionaries, military and first responders, for protection of our nation, Israel, for souls to be saved, and for our revival meetings beginning on June 23rd. Pray God’s Holy Spirit will truly revive our hearts and relationships to Him. Pray for Vacation Bible School beginning July 22-26 at 6:30 p.m. God knows every name and announcement on our prayer list and we ask you to join us in praying for this list of request. God knows and will answer according to His will.

Pleasant Valley Baptist wishes you a Happy Birthday! Best wishes to Louise Bailey on the 6th.

Remember our services are live-streamed on Facebook, but you are cordially and warmly welcomed to come and attend services with us. We would count it an honor to have you visit and be part of our family. Make plans to come soon, like soon!