“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
For eight months a resident of the nursing home was in hospice care—far longer than she was expected to last. Her family felt the uneasy tension of praying that the end they didn’t want to come would come soon.
It was my privilege to visit her often. She wouldn’t always notice that I had come into the room, but as I sat with her and gently touched her arm, she would open her eyes, and her face would take on a knowing look.
She was very weak, and when she spoke, it was a feeble whisper. I knew she had been a singer, so I asked if she had a favorite song. It took some patient listening, but I was rewarded by a thin voice rasping, “Jesus Is All the World to Me.” I tentatively began to sing along. She led me through the whole first stanza:
“Jesus is all the world to me,/ my life, my joy, my all;/ he is my strength from day to day,/ without him I would fall./ When I am sad, to him I go,/ no other one can cheer me so;/ when I am sad, he makes me glad;/ he’s my Friend.”
As I left her room, grateful tears filled my eyes. My heart said, “That’s the way to be nearing death—knowing, having such a friend.”
Jesus, her friend, loved her—enough to lay down his life for her! Her loving response? “I know this: I love my dear friend, Jesus.”
Do you know this too?
Thank you, Jesus, for being the friend who is all the world to us. We love you. Amen.