Writing the ‘BE Blogs’ over the seven years since Bethany’s passing has come from a personal call and growing conviction that anything I DO must flow out of who I truly AM and created to BE.
Throughout this time, I have been greatly challenged to the core of my BEing by my dear mother-in-law, Barbara Lilian Wake, who has just passed into her eternal Home with Jesus (and reunited with her darling Bethany).
I first met Barb at a church working bee… we were part of the ladies team building the mud-brick wall in the hall at Diamond Valley Baptist. I was impressed by her hard-working attitude and healthy eating habits. She was so friendly and made me, the newbie, feel very welcome on the team. Little did I know then what an integral part she would play in my life as my mother-in-law and friend for over 30 years!
This week, we had the honour to celebrate her life with family and friends. In my tribute, I shared about all the GIFTS Mum Wake has blessed me with over the years… GIFTS of grace, faithfulness and service that are too many to count!
If you are aware of the story of the ‘Proverbs 31 Woman’ then think of Barbara Wake as an exemplary modern day example! I am just one of her children who rise up and call her blessed!
Yes, I gained many GIFTS from and through Mum.
I am particularly grateful for the GIFT of childlike faith in Jesus Christ she constantly displayed in such an uncomplicated way to the world. A GIFT she passed onto her dear son, my beloved man.
But I am coming to understand that the greatest GIFT she has given me is something I am still grappling with as I journey the joys and sorrows of life.
The greatest GIFT she has bestowed is nothing that she has said or done. For the past decade, no words of profound wisdom or inspirational action have come forth from her. Yet, what she has offered us has been so powerfully displayed in a simple state of BEing that is transforming my life.
As Mum lay in a nursing home for the past six years, suffering from dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, she has been unable to SAY anything. She has been unable to DO anything for herself, for others, or for her Lord.
Bit by bit, piece by agonising piece, blow by devastating blow, every possession was stripped away from this kind woman without guile. Every skill she had carefully honed over many years was savagely ripped asunder. As far as we know, her thoughts were empty for years as her memory unravelled and disappeared. Sadly, Mum lost all knowledge of her loved ones and every single ability to DO anything totally diminished over a torturously long passage.
As I sat with Mum earlier this year, attempting to help her eat yet another ‘blended mushy meal’ it struck me that Mum just IS… and that’s all. The call to ‘Just BE’ had reduced down to the very basics.
Mum could breathe and her heart was still ticking… one step closer to eternity with every beat. There was still an occasional glimpse of her gorgeous smile, but her big brown eyes were blank and no longer held their usual spark.
We have always loved Mum for all she did for us. But now the countless days of her service on earth are over… she made that clear when seven years ago she handed me the tea towel and walked out of the kitchen for good!
As I sat there that bleak day, I wondered if Mum knew that she is still greatly loved, infinitely valuable and eternally significant to us, not for what she could DO but for who she IS.
At that point in time, Mum’s body was withered and she had absolutely nothing to offer us practically any more. Was it just the memory of all her kindness and sacrificial service over the years that kept feeding our love? That may still be part of it, but the essence of our continuing love seems to be this:
We love Mum simply because of who she is.
She is a daughter. She is our mum. She is our children’s nanna. She is an aunty, a sister, a friend and a beloved wife and although she was and now is totally incapable of doing anything on earth for us any more, her identity remains and can never be shaken!
Barbara Lilian Wake is loved!
The circle of life keeps bringing us back to dependency… we are ushered into this world as helpless newborns and many of us will return to that state in one way or another as we are birthed into eternity.
We are born a child and we die ‘a child’ – no matter how long or significant the dash is in the middle!
So the greatest lesson I am still learning from my dear mum is this…
Even if I never said or did a good thing again, I am valuable and infinitely loved by the mere fact that I am God’s child. This is an unchangeable constant.
Like Mum Wake, I am loved by God the Father, reconciled and adopted into His family simply by putting my faith in His Son Jesus. I am now indwelt by His Holy Spirit who is transforming me into all I am meant to BE. He is the One who gives me the life and courage to DO all I am meant to DO.
Like Mum, my value is NOT found in what I DO for Him or others, but all bound up in my true identity. I am His daughter, His BEloved daughter and all I DO that has worth will flow from this incredible fact.
So the question I have to keep asking myself is, “I am content with nothing more and nothing less than this?” My desperate plea is to know this love in the centre of my soul. Then, from this place alone, love God, His people and myself back with the same love. This is what is it all about friends!
Mum Wake and Bethany continue to speak to us – grant us ears to hear Lord.
Dearest Mum, we are forever grateful for you! You have showered us and our children with priceless GIFTS that have shaped who we are.
We are even more grateful for your endurance through such a horrific, costly trial. You have actively and passively taught us the most valuable lessons we need for eternity… to ‘Just BE’… this is the greatest GIFT you offer us all!
To break it down a bit more, here are the main GIFTS of grace you have modelled so well for us throughout your seasons of tremendous ability and heartbreaking inability…
We are the BEloved of Jesus
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavour to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.”
We BElong to Jesus
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are dearly loved by God and we know that he has chosen you to be his very own.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4
We are called to BE one with Jesus!
“Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honour, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!”
We are to BEcome like Jesus
“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Precious Mum, while we are grieved over you, we are also relieved for you. None of us can understand the cup of suffering you were asked to drink… but drink it you did… gulping all the dregs to the bitter end. As you drank, you still smiled and entrusted your life to the only One who can redeem your path of suffering into a threshold of eternal joy!
‘Just BE’ Mum… ‘Just BE’!
BE in His presence forever and enjoy your inheritance as His child to the full! We can hardly wait to hear your infectious laugh ring through the halls of Heaven. Thank you for gifting us with this deeply transformative, incredibly precious life lesson. May we live in the truth of just being who we truly are throughout all of our tomorrows until we meet again 🙂