For years, Rosemary Gaines has been clipping these columns out of her local newspaper and stashing them away. It’s a humbling thought that she considered each one a treasure to be preserved.
You see, Rosemary has been a great friend to me, an encourager, and in this world that can so easily tend toward negativity, a friend like that is truly a blessing.
Well, Rosemary graduated to heaven in March, completing her journey through this world and venturing boldly into the next. I visited Rosemary almost daily in her final weeks. She was 89 and her health was failing. What I saw in those visits was a remarkable woman who looked death in the face and didn’t even flinch. For Rosemary, a committed child of God, death had lost its sting, because she knew what and who waited for her on the other side.
What a courageous woman Rosemary was. I was reminded of the passage from 1 Corinthians 15 that says: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory.”
John Wesley, a preacher from yesteryear, once observed that “Christians die well.” What he meant was that Christians leave this world with a supreme confidence that Heaven awaits, that there is no reason to fear.
I had always said of Rosemary that she was proof dynamite comes in small packages. Not quite 5-feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, she was one of the biggest people I ever knew.
So, in honor of Rosemary, I thought it might be fitting to share with you portions from a column I had written some time ago that speaks to the kind of courage the Lord gives his saints as they prepare to leave this world. It went like this:
Perhaps you heard about the wife and husband who interrupted their vacation to go to the dentist.
“I want a tooth pulled, and I don't have time for Novocain,” the wife said. “I'm in a big hurry to get back to the beach. Just yank it out quickly, and we’ll be on our way.”
Needless to say, the dentist was quite impressed.
“You’re an incredibly brave woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?”
The woman then turned to her husband and said: “Go ahead; show him your tooth.”
That old joke has been getting laughs for a very long time. How ludicrous is the notion that a wife would be willing to put her husband through the pain of having a tooth pulled without Novocain just so she can get back to sunbathing.
It’s easy to be brave when it’s someone else’s tooth.
You realize God wants us always to be brave, no matter the circumstances. And we can be – if we put our trust in him, knowing that he is right there with us no matter what we’re facing.
God tells us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
He’s there because he loves us. One of my favorite Bible passages speaks to this: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword? (Romans 8:35). “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
You might have reason to question the love of a spouse who would turn you over to a dentist to get a tooth pulled without Novocain, but you’ll never need to question the love of God.
Rosemary never ever questioned God’s love for her, and that gave her a courage that was a great example to everyone around her.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at P.O. Box 673, Owenton, Ky. 40359 or by calling 502-514-6857.