The best is yet to come

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
The Bible tells us that we cannot imagine the glorious things the Lord has prepared for us in Heaven. The song, “I can only imagine,” sums it up pretty well, and even those lyrics still will not prepare our finite hearts to think on and dream of the infinite works of God. I know one thing I am looking forward to in that fair city, and that is complete rest. I always have one more project, one more call, one more text, one more decision, and one more unfinished task it seems.

Two weeks ago today, I was sitting at the bedside of a man that had become my dear friend. After meeting with a team of physicians and the chair of the ethics committee early that morning, we knew Ed was leaving this world. As the machines began to stop hissing, ringing, dinging, and beeping in our ears, one by one, they became silent sentinels waiting for that one flat line to appear and last. The kind nurse, Nick, who had trained as a US Navy medic, told me what to watch for and how to know what was likely happening.

One thing that caught my eye during the process, which lasted an amazing five and one half hours, was that the furrows, burrows, and wrinkles of life began to disappear from my friend’s precious face and he slowly regained a more youthful expression. I showed my friend, Sharon Duke, on the other side of the bed, how smooth and pretty his old tired Marine forehead had become. Nick explained that as death takes over a living body, it begins to go into complete relaxation, in many cases, and ultimately, the final rest. Ed died in our arms at 6:00 PM, straight up and down, a death fitting to a tired old US Marine. His change of watch happened with dignity and grace and no pain, except in the hearts of those that loved him best.

A few days before this last day, I was there when Ed was begging for food. Because of the various tubes, wires, and machines, he had not been able to eat and he was hungry. When the nurse finally brought a tray of food in, I noticed a shiny fork in the package. Ed had not been using forks because he was on a very bland and uninteresting diet. I picked up the fork and asked Ed if he could see it. He nodded and I told him a story that I love. “We are going to keep this fork on your bedside table,” I said. Ed looked puzzled and I went on with my story. “My Mama Cole always ate in a hurry and always began to clear the table before we were hardly finished with our meal. But, one thing she did, for certain, was to minimize her dish washing chore by saying, “Honey, keep that fork. The best is yet to come.” And sure enough, she would come back to the big dining table and bring in a hot from the oven fruit cobbler or some other delicious dessert. Oh, boy, was she ever right.

I told Ed that day, “We do not know what is coming, but you are very sick and your old body is breaking down. Lots of things are not working properly and I know you are in pain when the medicine wears out of your system.” He nodded. “I also know that because of your sweet testimony that you shared with me about your conversion and baptism, you will leave us on this shore and step onto Heaven’s shore.” Ed nodded again and big tears formed in those sweet eyes that had looked into so many camera lenses over the years and enabled him to delight people the world over with his talent.

“The best is yet to come. Keep that fork.” were words I whispered in his ear that fateful Saturday, and even though others might not know what we meant, I am convinced he did.

Folks, for every Christian believer, anyone that has put their faith in God, we do have the glorious promises of the Bible about our futures, where we will live, and some of what we can expect. I have found myself wondering what Ed is seeing, what exactly he is doing, and how happy his heart is these days.

With Valentine Day coming, let’s take this month of February to review our own heart and determine what we are missing in our lives and how we can rectify those needs. God bless us all as we wait with forks in hand for the best that is yet to come.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or
brendacannonhenley@yahoo.com.

[Posted on 2-4-2019: This is a re-post of an article originally posted on 2-5-2018]

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