On this mountain the Lord Almighty
will prepare a feast of rich food for all people,
A banquet of aged wine—
the best meats and the finest wines.
On this mountain He (God) will destroy the shrouds
that enfold all people,
The veil that covers all nations;
He will swallow up death forever.
The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth,
The Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25: 6-8
The Lord is always speaking if we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see. “When He speaks, the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.” (to quote a line from Into the Garden Alone, one of my favorite hymns). He speaks and He sings over us— words of life, words of love, comfort, strength, courage… The Lord has been speaking and singing over me a lot as I have been walking through a season of loss. Recently, He has been giving me revelation (or been speaking to me) by making me aware of how significant dates and certain numbers have been echoing through my life, pointing to particular passages of Scripture.
For years the Lord would highlight the number 11 for Lee and me. This was our God number. When we saw 11:11 on the digital clock in the car or on the stove, or in any random place, we’d give each other a high five and say, “Deuteronomy 11:11.” This had become one of our life verses: …the land which you cross over to posses is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven.
We had been sowing our seed and watering it by foot as in a vegetable garden long enough, referring to Deuteronomy 11:10 — that is operating in our own limited strength and understanding. We wanted the land of our lives to be expansive, a land of hills and valleys full of God’s beautiful Spirit, drinking water from the rain of heaven. We wanted the full access to our Heavenly Father Jesus died to give us: the abundant life; heaven on earth.
As our parents first began to show the effects of age on their bodies, Lee and I would ask God to give us the affirmation that all four of them would be going to heaven, never imagining in a million years that any one of them would outlive either of us. Longevity had been one of the hallmarks of both of our families for generations. My father is 98 years old, and “Old Nanny” on Lee’s side, had crossed the finish line at the age of 100. As Lee and I grew in our understanding of God’s covenant love and salvation, we would pray for everyone in our family, all our loved ones, to give their lives to Jesus, the doorway to heaven. And Lee would add, “whatever it takes, Lord.”
My mother was the first to go long after we had first prayed the salvation prayer. She spread her wings on October 11, 2014 at the age of 94. October was our birthday month. The Lord was saying to us, “My daughter Liz has crossed over. Like you were born to life on earth, she has been born to life in heaven. She no longer has to water her beautiful earthly gardens by foot.”
Lee and I were born twenty four days apart in 1953 — me on October 2 and he on October 26. Over the past year, the number 24 has been speaking to me about “being apart" or “separated.” We were joined in marriage, became one flesh, on April 26, 1980, at the age of 27. The number 27 has been speaking to me of being “joined.” Along with this awareness of the meaning of these numbers, I came to realize that important, once-in-a-life-time events pertaining to Lee seemed to fall on the 26th day of the month without our planning it that way.
Lee was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer on the afternoon of New years Eve, 2014, only 2 1/2 months after my mother died. Despite all of our prayers and positioning, Lee was not healed in this life. He spread his wings and crossed over on April 24, 2016, and was cremated on April 26, at 3:00pm, the precise hour he and I were married. At first I thought this was a cruel ending to our blessed 36 year marriage, but since Lee went home, God has continued to instruct me on the wonders of salvation through repeating dates and significant numbers. Lee was born on October 26, 1953, and we were married on April 26, 1980. We had selected that date for our wedding because we wanted to be married on Lilac Hill at the height of spring when the lilacs would be in bloom.
We were 27 years old and in love, eager to get married and “live happily ever after.” At that point in our lives, we had no idea that marriage was a picture of the covenant love between Christ and His bride, the church— that is true believers. Lee and I were true believers; we had both given our lives to Jesus five years before we met, but were far from understanding God and His ways, or, sadly, anything pertaining to salvation. That came gradually as we lived by faith, trusting our Heavenly Father on our life-path in the arts.
God has a way of orchestrating the details with His bigger plan in mind. He will take what is dark and horrendous in our fallen world and use it for good — for the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20). The timing of Lee’s death was not random or happenstance. The Jewish Passover feast takes place at different times each year, depending on the calendar. Jesus was a Jew. He grew up celebrating Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Jews from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Jesus was crucified at dusk on a Friday, at the start of Passover. He rose from the grave three days later, on a Sunday, the Sabbath. Christians around the world celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday — Jesus, the Lamb of God, freeing us from the slavery of sin.
In the year 2016, the year Lee crossed over, Passover started at dusk on Friday April 22. Lee started to cross the river to sweet Beulah Land at precisely that time, at dusk on Friday, April 22. He reached the heavenly shore three days later, at dusk on Sunday, April 24. At that moment, he and I were separated, no longer joined in marriage on earth. Through the timing of this sacred ending to Lee’s life, God was showing me that Lee was with Him. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Like Jesus, Lee had received his resurrection body and was surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses in the heavenly realms — his true home. Lee’s earthly tent was destroyed on April 26, at 3:00pm, the precise hour we were married, because he didn’t need it anymore. We spread his ashes on the waters off his beloved Capitol Island in Maine on July 26, 2016.
Lee’s parents were both in their 90s when Lee went home. Lee had his last conversation with his mother on her 90th birthday, April 21. Granny and Grampin were devastated over the loss of their beloved youngest son. They had been living in Scottsdale, Arizona for some 20 years after Grampin retired. I was so sorry I couldn’t give them hugs. When I was finally able to go out to visit them in June, both were very eager to hear more about Jesus, and the hope we have in Him. My words were a comfort to them and also to myself as I spoke them.
It was a comfort to see their place at “Upon the Rock,” their small, privately owned assisted living residence too, and to recall how God had answered our prayers for this transition in their lives. We had all hoped to persuade them to come back east, and find a place in Vermont close to Lee’s brother Clark or in Annapolis, close to us. Granny resisted the idea of moving from their house in the Terra Vita community and taking this next step in their lives. We couldn’t persuade her to change her mind, so Lee and I began to pray. We had no idea what assisted living options were available in the Phoenix area and wouldn’t have known where to begin to look. Then one day in September, 2014, Granny fell and broke her hip, and it became clear that they would have to face the inevitable.
God answered our prayers for them in a miraculous way. One day they called to tell us they had found the place. “We’ve signed a contract with Upon the Rock," Granny said. “It’s only a mile from Terra Vita, and it feels just like home.” When I was out there, I met their caregiver Cammi, and all of the warm-hearted staff at Upon the Rock in person. The atmosphere at Upon the Rock resonated with the selfless love of Jesus; it was a refreshing oasis of God's mercy and care in the desert.
My youngest daughter Catherine and I spent Thanksgiving with Clark and Cheryl and their son Jack in Charlotte, VT this year. Repeating Dates — Catherine and I drove up from Annapolis on Tuesday, November 21. On Wednesday, November 22, Cammi sent a photo of Granny and Grampin enjoying the Thanksgiving festivities at Upon the Rock. Granny looked radiant in her favorite color blue. Grampin was wearing a brand new, beige sweater and was smiling. It was a comfort to know they were there and so loved.
On Friday, November 24, the hospice nurse at Upon the Rock called and told us Grampin had taken a sudden downward turn on Thanksgiving Day. He had been losing his ability to swallow. She wanted us to know he was failing, and could go at any time. This news came as a shock. We had spent much of Thanksgiving Day remembering Lee. In the midst of our anguish, I saw that The Lord was giving us this time together to prepare us for another loss. Cheryl made a reservation for Clark to go out to Arizona early Monday morning. Clark arrived around noon Arizona time, and was there to say goodbye to his father.
“He was waiting for me,” Clark said. Clark sent him off, and I could imagine Lee greeting him with open arms on the other side of the veil. Father and son were joined in the heavenly realms on November 27.
Lee did the painting Thanksgiving Snow in 2011. He and I drove up to Vermont from Annapolis on November 21 that year. A record snowfall started in the early morning hours on November 22. On November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, we piled into Clark’s car and drove along snow-covered, back roads to the Trappe Family Lodge in Stowe. While the rest of us cross country skied, Lee painted. As I look at this painting today, I see so clearly that this painting was prophetic. Thanksgiving was on November 24 in 2011; Lee was painting Isaiah 25:6-8 - Mount Zion, the presence of God, seen through a gossamer veil.
Hebrews 6:19-20 (Amplified Bible)
This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot breakdown under any pressure that bears upon it] -- a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, the mountain of God, the most Holy Place in which the presence of God dwells], where Jesus has entered [in advance] as a forerunner for us. [And Lee too!]