She Lies Dying

A former student of mine faces death in the next few days. Her battle with cancer is about to end…in victory.

As Valerie transitions from this life to the next, we grieve; not because we fear death, but because we anticipate a season apart.

For some, the process of death is fast and merciful. For others, it’s protracted and painful. The journey to the veil and through the veil can seem vastly different. But the Psalmist captured it accurately when he wrote, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For You (O God) are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

The reality of the Lord’s Presence transforms death from an act of violence to a mere shadow. That which threatens to rob us of everything, turns out to have far less substance than we might have imagined. Death does not close a door but opens one, for people of faith.

We can only imagine the Eternal Light that lies beyond the fleeting shadow. And in a moment, with the drawing of a final breath, in the twinkling of an eye, that Light bursts forth. Resurrection happens. The body, always plagued by injury, sickness, and frailty is raised in an instant to glorious perfection.

Cancer strikes fear in many of us. We talk about “fighting it,” as we might wrestle a formidable enemy. But Christ conquered cancer at the Cross—not that He promises to regenerate mutant cells, but He assures us of something far richer and greater; eternity.

Our hearts feel heavy. Tears come to our eyes. Sadness seeps through us. We feel touched to the core.

But our hearts break because of love, not fear. In this moment, it’s love for a dear sister who shall wait beyond the bar for us. And love for the One who will receive her into His care, while we persist a while.

Valerie, you have fought the good fight. You have kept the faith. There is now for you an eternal weight of glory far greater than the momentary light afflictions of this life. Go before us with our blessing, and wait for us with joy.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, it’s never goodbye among believers, but “see you later.” 

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27 Responses to She Lies Dying

  1. Mark Willis says:

    Thanks David, so true. Reminds me of what mum said during her last weeks, ‘See you at the banquet!’

    • David Timms says:

      It’ll be quite the banquet – perhaps just the Lord’s Supper again, but shared with the Lord Himself and all those who precede us. I suspect the food will be secondary! 😉

  2. Cheryl says:

    Beautiful essay – thank you! I especially liked the thought that we grieve because of ‘a season apart’.

    Scripture speaks of death as ‘sleep’, (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, I Corinthians 15:12-19). Like an alarm clock going off, the next waking moment for the believer who has died will be when Christ returns and we’ll be resurrected with Him. Can’t wait for those new bodies, like unto his!

    I once heard someone say that for the believer in Christ “death is not the end of the road, but a bend in the road; not a period, but a comma.”

    And doesn’t “see you later” become “see you forever”? What a glorious Hope we have.

    • David Timms says:

      “Not a period, but a comma.” That’s the truth. Death is a brief pause, not a stop. Thanks for the lovely image. By the way, I just heard that Valerie passed through “the pause” a few hours ago.

  3. Tim Ross says:

    My prayers go out to the family and friends of Valerie for comfort, peace, and faith. Though I did not know her I will see her in heaven and rejoice with our Lord and Savior. These words give me great comfort.

    “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:54-57

  4. Valerie was my friend too, David, and someone I mentored during her college time. We just heard right now that she passed away early this morning. Her husband Geoff has been so wonderful through it all–we grieve for him. And yes, Valerie has certainly fought the good fight and must be rejoicing so much in the presence of the Lord that it is all over now. Thanks for your blog–beautifully put.

  5. John Thornhill says:

    O! the blessed assurance.. absent from the body, present with the Lord!!!
    And He who believes in me shall Never , No Never ‘see’ death ( will never been taken up with the unknowns of death and unable to focus on anything else’ No No No!!!! He ha tasted death.
    How rich can we be?.
    For ever with the Lord, And now He is preparing a place for YOU!!!
    That we may be with Him for ever. O! Blessed thought.
    Lord Jesus come.. we long for you… O! death where is thy sting?
    O Lord who is like unto Thee?

  6. Elaine Wilson says:

    Thank you for a beautiful and thoughtful reflection on death, David. Valerie’s family will be in my thoughts and prayers today. Your words regarding moving to ‘glorious perfection’ were particularly encouraging to my heart this morning, still aching from sitting alone in a hospital room with an elderly gentleman yesterday, in his final moments on earth.

  7. Deborah says:

    Thank you, David…beautiful sentiments and may God’s grace be upon both Valerie and all of her loved ones.

  8. Bunny Sharp says:

    Hi David, I just wanted to say “Hi” and let you know how very moved I was by this post. I read it to Rob and started to cry even though I do not know this sister-in-Christ. Your writing always touches me right in the heart. I forwarded this to one of our Pastors, Paul Bautts, at our new church (Calvary Community Church of Brea) because he leads our 55+ class on Sunday mornings and we recently did a series on ministering to others who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Thank you once again for sharing your amazing insight! Also, could you change my email address to reflect my new address of: Bunny Sometimes God calms the stormSometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child!

  9. Geoff Baker says:

    My wife, Valerie, died this morning in Bendigo at the exact moment that David’s post arrived in our inbox. Valerie trained for ministry and was greatly influenced by David in her studies and subsequent ministry. The tasks God put before us as a team were not easy, and Valerie faced them with faith and absolute confidence in God and He sustained her through to the end.

    When we believed that further treatment should not be undertaken, God provided confirmation of that decision quickly and decisively. In response to her prayer for guidance, the only words that came to her were “Into Your hands I commend my spirit”. She said to me that Jesus is waiting for me, sitting at the right hand of God.

    The family, all Christians, handed her over to God and He took her to Himself within a few short days. And she is now in glory with her Lord, Jesus Christ. She has persevered, she has run the race and has now received her reward. The separation between us will be for a time, but only a short time as we will both spend eternity as victors with Christ because of what He did for us. Praise God!

    Thank you for your support and prayers. I cannot begin to tell you how much they have sustained our children and me through the day.



  10. jdlow77 says:

    David, thank you for your post. It is timely because my brother just passed of cancer a week and a half ago. However in his case I don’t know what his relationship with Christ is. Thanksfully Valerie’s destiny was ordained, not so sure about Julian’s. Still thankful that I was able to spend some quality moments with him on this side of the veil.

    Blessings, Jerry


    • David Timms says:

      Jerry, your own grief is still very fresh. I’m sorry to hear of your brother’s passing. Let’s entrust him to the Lord’s grace and mercy. May the peace of Christ guard your heart and mind.

  11. erinambrose says:

    David–Your post is a beautiful reminder of the importance of this life as a preparation for the next. Our eyes should be clearly focused on that life and with just a passing glance at this one. Too often we get that confused. Thank you.

    • David Timms says:

      Erin, great to see you yesterday at the faculty meetings. You, of all people, understand and model the value of clear focus. Your Journey of faith is an inspiration. Blessings.

  12. Phyllis Heglund says:

    Thanks, David, for writing this truth so beautifully. I have been missing Dennis particularly these last few days and it is so encouraging to sit and think again about where he is right now – in the presence of our wonderful Lord. Nothing could be better! Just a pause – I will remember that.

  13. Arthur and vicki says:

    Hi David , I don’t know whether you remember us Arthur and Vicki payne , we are so sorry to hear of valeries passing so sad for geoff and her family . But she is with the Lord now. I only found out when searching the web for people from college. I (Vicki) almost joined her , I had a heart transplant in 2010. And almost died. The world will be a much poorer place without valerie in it. But God is in control. Hope you are all well.

    • David Timms says:

      Hi Vicki – lovely to hear from you. I hope you and Arthur are doing well. It sounds like 2010 was a dramatic year for you. Valerie will indeed continue to be missed. Blessings to you both!

  14. Julie Dicker says:

    Valerie came to my mind today and tried to find her as I had lost contact several years ago. I worked with her in her student ministry at Rockdale Church of Christ and Hurstville Church in Sydney. So sad that she is no longer with us but comforting to know she is with the Lord. Amazing that we can find people this way and via David. John Timms married John and myself at Paddington Church of Christ in 1976. Love and prayers Julie Dicker

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