Last week, I officiated at the funeral of a dear friend. During his funeral message I shared portions of a conversation I had had with him several months ago. During that conversation he told me that the cancer he had successfully battled several years ago had returned. Like most of us, he expressed apprehension about the future and what lay ahead as he prepared to do battle once again with the dreaded disease. As we concluded our conversation, I emphasized that he needed to remember that God would be walking with him during the days ahead.
In the weeks following, he took those words to heart and when I would have “a coke” with him on a weekly basis at McDonalds he would often share how he had felt God walking with him as he endured numerous visits with doctors, diagnostic tests and treatments. He shared how blessed he was to have good doctors and nurses taking care of him and acknowledged that God had placed them at his side.
His last conversation with me was from his hospital bed in Iowa City. A few days after extensive surgery he told me that the doctors had found that his cancer had spread and based upon their diagnosis he had decided not to seek further treatment. Three days later he took his first breath of heavenly air. Until the end he knew that God was walking with him.
During that same period, I and my family also experienced God walking with us. Four days prior to my friend’s death, we were awakened by an early morning phone call from our son telling us that his wife of fifteen years had slept away into the presence of God after a valiant eleven-month battle dealing with the challenges created by a twenty-year battle with type one diabetes. Much of the prior eleven months had been spent in the University of Iowa ICU unit. Four weeks ago, she was well enough to be dismissed from the hospital and with great joy returned to her family. How she enjoyed being home and being with her family. During the past year we, too, knew that God was walking beside her and ourselves. Without the presence of God during this time we would not have been able to cope with the uncertainty of the situation as we saw her improve and then regress on numerous occasions.
During the immediate days following her death we felt God walking with us and even now as we are adjusting to a “new normal” we feel his presence. He is walking with us as we now begin living our lives without her being physically on this earth. We know that God will continue to do so.
It’s easy to call on God for help and strength in times of sorrow and sadness as we walk “through the valley of the shadow of death”, or when stress and uncertainty causes us pain. But what about those times when we consider life to be good, when we are feasting in green pastures? It is important to remember that God continues to walk besides us each and every day as we engage in our earthly journey. Though we may not always realize it or maybe have forgotten because of apathy, he is always be there to guide, give us patience, peace, joy and share his love with us. May we seek and value his companionship and appreciate the footsteps that are being made besides ours Are you experiencing God walking beside you today? He is there. Reach out, take his hand and let him lead and guide you. Allow Him to be your best friend.