I have recently had the privilege of seeing a life of relentless faith lived out in fullness. Life sometimes brings you to places that you never saw coming. It was in one such moment where I felt this overwhelming sense of awe at how God works.
I love to write and speak about faith.
Faith in Christ is the essence of a fulfilled life.
What is faith?
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."-Hebrews 11:1
I was struggling with some feelings of uncertainly about my own future recently when I was given a glimpse of faith so big and so real that I was humbled, my heart was touched and my perspective was altered. I walked into Annelise's* room. Annelise could no longer walk, feed herself or even reposition herself on her own. Annelise was nearing the end of her journey in life. She could do very little on her own, she needed complete care. But her mind was sharp, and she was a brilliant woman.
I asked her how she was doing that day. It was my first interaction with her since my shift started. Questions like that often seem out of place in those situations, but I have learned never to assume an answer. Annelise was a smart woman and I respected her. She looked up at me from her bed, and her response really spoke to me. She looked at me and stated confidently, "I am as good as I can be," and she continued by encouraging me to live a life of faith. She said faith is what sustained her all her life and it was what was sustaining her now.
I have been a nurse for 13 years. And in these years, I have witnessed death many times. I have seen the unexpected death and the anticipated death. I have seen bitter people die bitter, angry and alone, literally carrying their grudges to their graves. I have seen lives full of regret and remorse at not having lived the way they should have. I have listened to those share with me that they would do it all differently if they could go back and get another chance. I have watched in awkward silence as family members were offering long overdue forgiveness to a dying family member who had wronged them. I have embraced strangers over the loss of a loved one because I felt their hurt and I have cried with them at the loss of life. Death always leaves a void.
But here was Annelise, boldly looking into the approaching certainty of her own journey on earth, and what I saw was humbling. She had such peace. She lay there barely able to move, hardly able to take a sip of water yet there was not a hint of bitterness or unease. Annelise had a deep, real faith in God. She looked up at me and said, "My faith sustains me. The journey was not always easy, but God is real and He has helped me through and He will continue to help me. I may not see you here on earth much longer, but I will see you in Heaven." I had tears filling my eyes now. I have so often witnessed fear, blame, anger, and hopelessness at this stage of life. But rarely have I first hand seen and listened to faith so vibrant and so strong, that this woman whom no one would blame for being bitter due to her debilitated state, was giving God glory for the life she was able to live.
I hardly have words to describe the beauty of that moment. The uncertainly that I was feeling about my own future melted away and sure felt small and insignificant when I listened to Annelise share how her faith in God sustains her. She reached out her hand and I held it for a long time, not saying anything, just letting the tears stream down my face silently and just being with her. It was not awkward, it was peaceful. Her heart was so fully at peace, there were no more words to say.
I told Annelise how her life was an example to me, and how I had great respect for her, and I hoped that I could have faith like hers someday. When I left for home that day, I brought this big sense of awe with me. Anyone can say words about having faith, but witnessing such powerful faith in action has a way of changing your perspective on life. It gives you a chance to reprioritize your thoughts and actions now before it is too late.
*Name changed for the story.
God, thank you for the life I have. Thank you for all the blessings in my life. Help me to be quick to love and quick to forgive. Help me to offer forgiveness freely. God, help me to have a clear perspective on what is important in my life. Help me to use my time on this earth wisely. May I be a bright light in this world for those around me. And God, may my faith in you anchor me through all the storms that life brings my way.