She was my age (52) when she passed but we had distinctly different lives. All her life all she ever wanted to do was to be a medical missionary in India to help spread the Gospel. Probably the last place on earth most Christians would admit to want to go to in order to serve the Lord (if they were being honest). That dream was cut short along with everything else most normal people do. She contracted Lyme's disease which went undiagnosed for over ten years and it took a devastating physical, mental and emotional toll upon her.
Kathy never married, never had children and couldn't even hold down a job. She lived with her mother until the very end; hardly able to dress or get out of bed and function but I could never tell from the cheerful sound in her voice whenever I would call to speak with her. She spent every waking moment mostly alone, reading the scriptures, doing Bible studies. I visited her whenever I could (she lived 700 miles away from me), called (when she was able to come to the phone) and wrote letters and sent her my books since that was her only form of entertainment: reading. She never forgot my birthday and would always send a cheerful letter, never complaining but wishing with all her heart that she could just be free of all the pain and loneliness and be with Jesus, her precious Savior. The last time I got to see Kathy was a several year's ago on New Year's Day. We were already in Northern California and made a special trip to see her (pictures below). She was her usually bubbly self and I knew then that it was probably the last time I would ever see her again because of the distance between us.
When I was writing my second book, Make a Wish, I so wanted to include a wish fulfillment story for Kathy because I knew her days were limited and she had so few things in life that she could enjoy. I really wanted the Lord to speak to her through this story. I wanted to bring her comfort and meaning for all the years she had suffered what seemed to be (on the surface anyway) a life devoid of purpose. The Lord gave me exactly the inspiration I needed and here below is Kathy's story. She wrote me after she received it that it was perfect and how no one had ever "got it" so perfectly. I had exactly captured what she so needed to hear.
Kathy - I know you can't hear me or read this but I want you to know how happy I am for you that you are now and for all eternity finally sitting at the Master's Feet!
Here is Kathy's wish fulfillment story:
I have known Kathy since we were both in our early 20’s. Kathy is the most faithful, long-suffering child of God I have ever known. All her life, all she ever wanted to do was to serve God as a medical missionary in India, helping the poorest of the poor. Instead, 20 years ago, she contracted Lyme’s disease which went undiagnosed. The disease has made it impossible for her to work a job or have any kind of normal life. She has never been married nor had children and lives and still lives with her mom who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Despite her complete isolation (now going on several years); Kathy remains cheerful, upbeat and faithful. She has thrown herself into Bible Study and reading is the only pleasure left to her. This is my wish for Kathy and this book would not have been complete without it. If you feel so inclined, please pray for my friend and all the people in this book who are hurting in one way or another.
“At the Master’s Feet”
It was noon and Kathy woke up slowly. The medication she took to dull the constant pain made it impossible to wake up any earlier. She opened her eyes to find large male feet in a pair of sandals on the floor directly across from her. Her gaze traveled up, up, up…her heart thumping; until they froze upon the face of Someone she had never thought to see on this side of heaven.
“Kathy” He said, offering His hand to her. Unable to tear her eyes from His beloved face, she put her small hand into his large warm one and felt a thrill run through her body. She felt lighter, wide awake and completely free of pain.
“Come,” he beckoned, opening her bedroom door.
“Is this my time to-to…uh you know…?” she couldn’t quite say the words.
Jesus looked at her. “No – not yet,” He answered. Kathy nodded and followed him through the door.
She suddenly found herself standing in a dwelling made of stone. There was a bustle of activity as men and women rushed to and fro, carrying baskets of dates and figs and large clay pitchers. A dark-haired woman with a flustered look on her face was pointing and directing all her servants while at the same time, kneading dough and minding a spit upon which a lamb was slowly roasting. Kathy looked about her in awe realizing that somehow she had gone back in time and was seeing a familiar scene from the Bible played out before her very eyes. She looked down at herself and found that she was no longer wearing 21st century sleepwear but long flowing robes of hand woven linen and her hair was down past the small of her back but covered in a veil. She no longer felt any pain or exhaustion; just a sense of wonder and awe. She went off to do a little exploring and found a middle-aged man pouring wine into vessels and talking to some other men.
“Yes, it is just as you have heard.” He was saying. “I wasn’t asleep or unconscious…I was in Abraham’s bosom. I saw and heard things that I can’t even begin to describe to you. I saw our Patriarchs, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and I even saw the gulf fixed between Sheol and Abraham’s bosom with our rich neighbor on the other side who died shortly after I did. He was begging for someone to go to his brothers and warm them but Moses assured him that none would listen…” at that moment he turned and noticed Kathy standing there with her mouth agape. So the story of the rich man and Lazarus wasn’t a parable… she had been thinking. To her surprise Lazarus opened his arm and beckoned her closer.
“This is my sister, Mary,” he said to the others, meaning Kathy. “She can vouch as to the validity of my death. Isn’t that so, sister?” Kathy wasn’t about to contradict a biblical character and ruin her daydream so she just nodded her head up and down in agreement. Lazarus gave her a brotherly hug and she took that as her cue to go. She moved on to other rooms of the house which were still bustling with activity as more and more guests flowed into the house. She eventually wound up in the room where Jesus was reclining and decided to sit down at his feet. He offered her some warm pita bread and hummus. Kathy was hesitant to eat it. It had been years since she had deviated from her simple and wearisome diet of plain chicken, oatmeal, and peanut butter. The thought of putting anything else into her stomach and what it might to do her later was terrifying.
“Do not fear,” He comforted her. “Eat.”
Kathy popped it into her mouth and closed her eyes with pleasure. It was delicious if only because it was such a complete change of venue but mostly because it had come directly from her Savior’s own hand. Might as well enjoy myself while I’m here! She thought to herself and began to help herself to everything with relish. While she ate Jesus lay reclined on the cushions that were spread across the floor and Kathy followed suit, not knowing what else to do.
Then He began to speak to her and tell her stories. Stories that had never been recorded in the Gospel accounts. Kathy was transfixed not only by His words but by His face and eyes as well which never left hers. Eyes that were deep, bottomless wells of infinite love. All else in the room faded away into insignificance as He spoke.
“Master!” came an irritated voice from across the room. All activity in the room paused to stare at the lady of the house who stood sweating with her hands upon her hips in exasperation. To make matter worse she was glaring at Kathy as if she had committed a grievous social faux pas. A weird feeling of déjà vu came over Kathy. The woman continued, pointing an accusing finger at Kathy. “Do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha! Martha!” Jesus said, shaking his head and laying his hand upon Kathy’s shoulder protectively. “You are worried and bothered about so many things but only a few are necessary; really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken from her!”
Suddenly Kathy found herself back in her bedroom, in her bed clothes with her Bible open upon her lap. She blinked a few times then looked up and was amazed to still see her Savior sitting there. He was looking upon her with such love and compassion it made her want to weep.
“My daughter,” He said, cupping her trembling chin in His warm hand. “All thy life you have grieved the fact that you have been unable to serve Me as a nurse in a foreign land but I am here to tell you that I have chosen the way of Mary for you. Do not regret the long years of pain and isolation for in them you have been given the gift of sitting at My feet and learning of Me. There is no greater sacrifice I could ask or gift I can bestow than this. In all thy trials you have proved thyself a good and faithful servant and in thee I am well pleased.”
Kathy bowed her head, overwhelmed. Tears dripping from her eyes. When she lifted her head again He was gone but she could still feel His presence in the room. No matter what lay ahead in the days to come, she knew she was in the center of His perfect will…and that was enough.