Lately my rumination into life has taken me to thoughts of lasting impressions and last trains. And to a question I doubt I’ve asked myself before: How many human beings have I encountered in my life?
Let’s see . . .
Like you, life began with my mother. The doctor who delivered me. My father who held me. The nurses who tended me. My brothers.
It progressed from my home to church, school, doctors’ offices, hospitals, courtrooms, highways, stores, libraries, restaurants, offices, playing fields, neighborhoods, entertainment venues, buses, planes, ships, trains, a family of my own, and on and on.
Only God knows the number.
Like you, most of the folks I’ve encountered left no impression whatsoever. I was only vaguely aware we shared the same general space. If they disappeared, I’d notice the empty spaces but not the people who had filled them.
A handful left fleeting impressions. I could’ve told you some tidbit about them at the time, but I forgot them in minutes or hours, sometimes days.
Others left more significant impressions that stayed with me for weeks or months. Some, even years. But even they have faded now.
But a few—a select and unique few—have left such deep impressions on my thinking, feeling, and behaving that I’ll carry them with me until my body or memory fails.
As it turns out, purely coincidentally, one of those is the only train engineer I’ve known. His name is Eddie Largen. And he’s preparing for the end of his life.
It isn’t because he was a train engineer, although that does set him apart.
Nor is it because of his good looks. He’s been easy on the eyes all his life.
It isn’t because he’s a Christian, although that is true.
It isn’t because we married into the same family. We did.
Nor is it because he’s a sterling son, husband, father, and grandfather. He is.
I‘ll remember Eddie for his unabashed, authentic enthusiasm. It’s unforgettable.
Unabashed. Eddie is enthusiastic whether others share his fervor or not. His passion finds its own time and place.
Authentic. There’s no need for Eddie to fake or force enthusiasm. It’s part and parcel of WHO he is.
Enthusiasm made Eddie a skilled train engineer who stayed the course in more ways than one. He provided a stable home and legacy for his girls and grandchildren and love and security for his wife, Sandra.
Enthusiasm has made Eddie a well-groomed gentleman. An able builder. An exceptional singer. Bible student. Christian. A devoted son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. Friend.
Eddie’s Last Train
Eddie’s enthusiasm will translate into Glory. I can see him now—meeting, greeting, shaking hands and chewing the fat. Laughing. Singing. Enjoying a banquet. Running with his arms stretched wide and hollering, “Jesus! Jesus!”
Move aside, angels and saints. Eddie Largen’s last train is coming ’round the bend.
Faith. Will yours support you when you or a loved one is dying? Has it already done so? Or are you anticipating this inevitable event with trepidation or helplessness?
Robin Bertram honors us with a visit this week to talk a bit about her latest release, Hidden Treasures, which Abbingdon Press released in August 2018:
Based on experiences derived from 25 years of prayer ministry, Robin Bertram, in Hidden Treasures provides insight and guidance to equip the reader — patient, family member or friend — to walk through these challenging times with foresight, looking for and expecting to see God at work in many miraculous ways. Hope is available. Death with dignity is possible, and there are hidden treasures to embrace along the way.
Readers, this a turn onto a path of a different sort—nonfiction—but I think you’ll be glad for this detour. So grab a cup o’ something. Pull up a chair. And prepare for a blessing.
P.S. Robin’s giving away The Power of Joy in ebook to someone who blesses our group with a comment.
Robin, what’s one piece of information you can give a terminally ill person to help them through difficult days?
First of all, life continues after death. You will go on into eternity and you will see Jesus.
It is an unquestionable fact that once you accept Jesus as Lord, you will have a glorified body one day and life eternal. You will not perish, but live on into eternity.
When your loved one feels alone, what can you do to encourage him or her and to help them through periods of loneliness?
This is a time when family and extended family must be present. If possible, have a weekly schedule where loved ones will visit on the same day at the same time. Consistency brings comfort and peace. When you line out a schedule, your loved one will anticipate the visit. This gives them something to look forward to and something to expect.
If you or your loved one is facing long-term or terminal illness, what part does knowing Jesus play in facing long, hard days?
Sharing the gospel is critical. If they do not know Jesus, tell them or find a pastor or friend who can share the truth with them. When indivuals face such extreme suffering and pain, they are usually more receptive to hear the truth. They need a foundation to stand on like never before. It’s the greatest gift you can give them.
How do you help them through times of great anxiety?
The Bible reads in Isaiah 28:16: See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: One who trusts will not panic.
If you put your trust in Jesus, anxiety will be greatly diminished. You possess the one certain thing you can trust. God works all things together for your good and His glory. He sees the big picture; we do not. He knows what is best; we do not.
Who is the Holy Spirit and how can he help me?
The Bible reads in Romans 8:26: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
What did Jesus have to say about the Holy Spirit?
Jesus said, before he ascended into heaven, that he would send his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the God-head. He is the Spirit of God sent by Jesus to help us through great times of difficulty. We pray to God for help and His Spirit helps us.
During times of severe distress, we need more than someone’s kind word. We need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to survive day-by-day. Also, we need His grace flowing through us, His love to surround us, and His peace to settle our frightened hearts. We need His precious Spirit to comfort us.
You went through a very personal health experience, Robin. How did this help you write your books?
I struggled with a serious health issue for a year and a half. Mayo clinic provided 4 potential diagnoses. Three were taken off the table. One was left: one in which there was no treatment, no medicine and no cure with a life expectancy of 2 years.
It was an agonizing path to death. During the year and a half I battled for my own health, I wrote this book. All the lessons learned from 25 years of prayer ministry came back to me, those I had personally ministered to, and put them on paper.
It was in the midst of utter darkness, I cried out to God and shined His light into the deepest part of my soul. I could see again. He healed me and gave me this work to complete.
People who are facing sickness or long term or terminal illness sometimes feel they are unimportant or unloved. What nugget can you share that will help them change their mind?
My father was a paster for 50 years. I grew up in church singing that song. But I didn’t believe it. I had to find God for myself and that’s when I felt loved. I had to decide to give my heart to Jesus and believe that He died for me. His love covered me like a blanket. My life changed. I changed. And then I realized I was loved by my Heavenly Father.
How important is communication?
I‘ve heard the most ridiculous platitudes like God needs one more flower in his garden. One objective to this book is to encourage the reader to be honest, direct, and open in communication with their loved one. But to be loving and sensitive also. I once worked with a dying young child whose mother told everyone, everywhere that her child was terminal. The constant reminder was more than the child could handle. Finally, a major melt down occurred in a place of business between the child and mother.
What are some ways to show love to their dying family member?
Show love by sharing memories. By saving memories. And by making memories. In my book I go into detail and offer suggestions that will help to make lasting memories for the entire family. This is the time to put things on hold and do what will mean the most for your loved one. It might be taking a trip to Disney for a child. Or reminiscing with old friends from the past for an elderly. When facing life’s challenges, acknowledge the differences between young, middle aged and seniors.
How can someone who has no hope grow in hope when the odds are against them?
You can find hope in Jesus because he is the anchor of our soul. You can find hope in words aptly spoken. Hope in faith-filled friends. In this book you will find an entire chapter on finding hope. Truly, hope is what helps the dying survive day-by-day. Hope on to the truth of what is written. Believe it for your situation. God is working. You are not alone. You can find hope in understanding the sovereignty of God.
Where does our faith come into play?
Faithis a tool for battle and it must constantly be sharpened. We can acknowledge there is a real fight. In the midst of a battle, there is usually a hero that emerges. A hero will choose a side, and refuse to ride the fence. He will make a decision based on his beliefs and stand by that decision. Choose life, no matter the circumstances. If you do, you’ve already won.
How do we grow in faith?
We grow in faith by hearing, reading, meditating on the word of God. Reading the Holy Bible will build our faith and our confidence that God does love us and He is watching out for our best interests.
Many battles are won by our faith, believingbeyond our circumstances. When all odds are against us and our intellect screams we are wrong, faith stands as the most powerful force one can tap into. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Faith stands in the face of loss, sickness, or disease and simply says, “No I will not give in. I will not give up. Or accept defeat. I will win either way.”
Choose life instead of giving into the darkness that is meant to destroy you. In a battle, a hero refuses to allow the enemy to intimidate. “This disease is not a friend. Instead, it is an invader.” Rather than run, a hero stands firm in the midst of the battle. Refuses to be moved by circumstance. Declares victory either way. A true hero embraces all possibilities legitimately and refuses defeat. The fight spurs a true hero toward a deeper walk of faith.
A Bit More About Robin
Robin is former Vice President for Christian Women in Media Association, an organization dedicated to bringing spiritual and professional enrichment within the industry. She is also CEO of Bertram & Ross Consulting, which provides comprehensive training and services to assist and empower other kingdom professionals in the areas of social media, marketing, content generation, customer engagement, and business analysis.
Her passion for the Word, love for people, and heart to serve were developed early on in life as a “PK” and continued through her life’s journey. She often appears as a keynote speaker at women’s conferences, retreats and media seminars. She delivers vibrant messages of encouragement, freedom, and victory in Jesus Christ. Her straightforward approach and in-depth biblical insight heals hearts and transforms lives.
Dear Lord, we gather around one of Your uniquely gifted daughters, praising and thanking You for Your work in Robin’s heart and spirit. You take us, Your offspring, along pathways often paved with hardship and sorrow. But You’re the essence of love, so we trust You even in the dark valleys, through the troubled waters, and amid the thorns. Please bless Robin’s every effort in behalf of hurting souls. Multiply the power and effect of each word she speaks and writes for You. ~ For Jesus’ sake