Dying Breath { A Journey Through the Season of Lent }

I semi-slept in the recliner near my mom’s bed–not knowing it would be her last night on planet earth.   When my children were little, I often teased that a mama sleeps with one eye open …one eye on the baby and one eye on sleep. Life had made a U-turn.  It was time for the “baby” to keep one eye open for the “mama”.

Like a newborn waking up every two hours, the caregivers came in  to check on my mom — turning her from side to side …keeping her as comfortable as possible.   I, too,  would often check on my babies in the middle of the night just like mama did for her babies …feeling the air coming from their nose …making sure they were still breathing.  Life was now coming full circle.

I watched as she labored with every breath–lifting her shoulders to reach down deep into her lungs  to find the oxygen  desperately needed to sustain life.  As I thought about this, I was reminded of a pastor’s words years ago who talked about Jesus on the cross and the desperate work of His body to breathe — not from a comfortable bed with caregivers attending to Him — but hanging by nails, limbs stretched across wooden beams.

And in those last moments, you hang on every last word… 

“Father,  forgive them, for they don’t know  what they are doing.”
“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“Dear woman, here is your son.” And  He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother!”
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”)
“I am thirsty.”
“It is finished.”
“Father, I entrust my spirit into Your hands!”

(from the Gospel accounts in Mark, Luke & John)

And you replay the events of the last days over and over in your mind …

The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane …the betrayal by someone He loved …the condemnation by religious leaders who claimed to know Him …the dear friend’s denial …the judgment by a person in authority …the beating and mocking by those who were supposed to protect…the struggle of lifting  His own cross on His shoulders …the willingness to let someone else carry the cross …the acknowledgment of the weeping women who were following Him …the nailing to the cross …the conversation with the criminals to the right and left being crucified with Him …the love and affection for His mother as He gave her into the care of a friend …the last words uttered …the sun hiding its light …the last breath  …the burial in a borrowed tomb.

And Good Friday helps us take the time to pause …remember …reflect.  But in the remembering, there can be a turmoil in your spirit as you try to respond.  What do I do about this?  It’s Saturday and I’m waiting in the middle.  How do I recover from looking into the excruciating suffering of Jesus?

These words spoke to me …

“Good Friday is the day when you can do nothing.  Bewailing and lamenting your manifold sins does not in itself make up for them.  Scouring your soul in a frenzy of spring cleaning only sterilizes it; it does not give it life.  On Good Friday, finally, we are all, mourners and mockers alike, reduced to the same impotence.  Someone else is doing the terrible work that gives life to the world.

Virginia Stem Owens
(Page 244, “It Is Done”–from Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter, Plough Publishing)

Doing nothing is hard work!  I’ve lamented and repented — all good things– but in the end, I am absolutely helpless to do the work that is needed for my own redemption, forgiveness and the saving of my soul–except to trust Jesus and receive what He has already done for me.

God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you.  Once you have ceased to struggle so hard, he will do everything.  God is waiting for you to despair.  He has done it all!”

Watchman Nee
(page 248, “It Is Done” — from Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter, Plough Publishing)

My Mom died on a Friday–the day before her birthday.  We could do nothing on Saturday except to wait for Sunday…the day of the funeral and burial and the closure it would hopefully bring.   But on  this Saturday –the day of waiting in the middle of Jesus’ death and resurrection — I’m taking time to reflect and absorb the truth that the work is now done!  I’m trusting the words of Jesus in His dying breath …”It is finished!”

Special thanks for the sweet fellowship of believers and the  time of quiet reflection that encouraged this post as we journeyed through the Stations of the Cross–reading through the Scripture at the Good Friday service at St. Andrews in Madison, Alabama.

The Journey continues!!  We’ve been embracing the Suffering Savior but tomorrow we celebrate the Risen King and I  would be remiss if I didn’t take just as much time to focus on the “power of His resurrection” as I did on the “fellowship of His suffering” — so stay on the journey!  There’s always more!  

In the coming weeks, I’ll be continuing along  in the book,  Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter (Plough Publishing) sharing excerpts from chapters 47-72 if you’d like to read along with me.

{Click HERE if you’d like to order your own copy of the book.}

Embrace the Journey!

7 thoughts on “Dying Breath { A Journey Through the Season of Lent }

    • I love you, Marie! For me, I’ve found that I can’t truly appreciate the power of His resurrection until I’ve fully embraced the fellowship of His suffering. But you’re right — It’s difficult but needed…the joy and sorrow mingled. I will keep praying with you along this journey as we walk it out with Jesus.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This really spoke to me….thank you! Waiting and resting is soo hard. Also its a huge comfort to me that He Empathizes with our pain….He knows because He’s been there. When I was suffering so much that Heaven sounded like a release, He never left my side. He will never leave yours. Because of the Crucifixion He understands others suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Joy for sharing Jesus with us so beautifully……and thank you for your unconditional love that you continually show John and I. Love you precious lady.

    Liked by 1 person

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