Monday, August 20, 2012

farewell to a saint, sister, and friend

Summer Trips have just ended, and I still need to write and recap about Mississippi and Portland.  But tonight my heart is back in Nassau.  Our beautiful Bahamian sister and heroine of the faith, Ms. Moxey, has gone to be with Jesus.

It is a curious kind of sadness, loosing a saint in this life.  Beautiful because she is not sad!  She is, as my friend Tim reminded me, running with Jesus, just like she said she would.  And heart-wrenching because I won't have the great honor introducing my students to her again this side of heaven, or of sitting and holding her frail hand while she reads aloud the hundredth Psalm from her well-worn Bible for the hundredth time.

It's here at the barn, in the still of the night with only crickets chirping and horses munching the last of their dinner, that I got Tim's text.  I bury my head in Aiden's big, soft shoulder and cry the tears that have been stored up for this day since I first met Ms. Moxey two years ago.  Aiden is good company for teary-eyed moments--he reaches around to rest his head on my shoulder and lets out a deep sigh.  I'm not one of those animal-people who think that my horse has a soul and feels compassion; but I think of Romans 8:19-22, that the creation groans and waits for the world to be rescued from its brokenness.  My big thoroughbred is sighing with the rest of creation tonight {and every night}.  It reminds me that as I cry, I'm not the only one who senses deep down that things are not as they should be.

Ms. Moxey knew it, too.  Oh, how she knew it!  And her whole life was a revealing of the Kingdom that is both now and coming.  You could feel it so powerfully in her tiny little bedroom, as she talked about the goodness of God and the fierceness of His love.  Ms. Moxey taught us how to long for heaven, because heaven was so near when you were in her presence.

She also taught us how to live with boldness in the wait for heaven.  The Angel of Courage, I called her--so named for the Willow Tree Angel with her hands raised in triumph above her head, a posture Ms. Moxey often took to express her joy.  When I feel anxious or fretful, I think of Ms. Moxey, facing the hardships of her difficult life with her face set upon the God who promised good to her, unafraid of what horrors AIDS might bring her.

She taught us to trade bitterness for joy.  Never in my life have I known someone with more reason to live out of resentment, and yet my students will tell you--she was the most joyful person any of us has ever met!  It wasn't a put on, phoney-Christian kind of joy, either, but the kind that let you know she had most certainly been with Jesus.

And she is with him now.  Face to face at last.  Her body, once ravaged by AIDS, now restored to the perfection God intended in the Garden.  Her spirit, more alive than ever {though it's difficult to imagine how anyone could be more alive than Ms. Moxey!}, and her face, radiating the Father's glory in even greater brilliance than it did while she graced this earth.

My students have learned Ms. Moxey's lessons well.  Today, as one of my girls and I were--oddly enough--working on a little project for Pastor Joseph in Nassau, she said to me, "it just doesn't really matter what happens in my life, whether I get married or where I live.  That's nothing compared with the things I know God has for me to do."  Another called me after we heard the news tonight and said, "Chelsea, I can't even cry or be sad!  I'm just so full of joy that she is with Jesus, finally."  And so Ms. Moxey's legacy of joy in all circumstances lives on.

On my last visit to see her, it certainly seemed that it wouldn't be long.  A stroke had further wrecked her body this year, and she was less herself at times because of the heavy medication she hated taking. As I read to her from Revelation 21, tears threatened to choke the words:

 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:3-5)

As I read, she seemed to so especially close to Jesus, so ready to be Home!  

And tonight, as I think about this brave woman who has taught me so much about the heart of God, I too am longing for Home.

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