Sunday, October 20th 2013

Like Mother, like daughter, like Jesus

Like mother, like daughter, like Christ

I love the people in this photograph and I always will. I love where this photograph is located, too.

If I remember right, this was taken at a restaurant close to where I live, back in January 2007. We were celebrating Mom Ruth’s birthday. At this point, Mom Ruth was – I think – roughly two years into her cancer diagnosis. Her hair was growing back after the chemo – a welcome relief to her itchy and scratchy wig. It was really unusual to see her with shorter hair but we both thought it made her look younger! And Annie – well, cancer wasn’t even in her wildest dreams at this point; this picture was taken probably six-months before the initial diagnosis. We had no clue. At this point in time, as far as we both knew, we were six-months away from spending a year at Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania, USA – a year-long plan that ended abruptly with the unexpected test-results that showed Annie had pre-cancer cells in her body, no more than one-week before we were due to leave our home and board the plane.

But that’s not the location I am referring to. I love where this photograph is physically located. I’ve just taken this off Mom Ruth’s refrigerator at her house in Hayes. Her refrigerator is literally covered with photographs and memory verses; apparently it’s also a good place to store milk and butter!

Mom Ruth’s house is such a special place. And such a peaceful place – always so peaceful. Spend a few minutes there and you’d forget that you were a few minutes away from one of the busiest airports in the world and one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the UK. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if many of you reading this had already spent some time there! So many people have passed through, and enjoyed the blessing of her hospitality. Take a look at her guest book and you’ll learn that Heathrow Airport is not the only place in town popular with international sojourners. When her husband, John, was suddenly taken to be with the Lord, over twenty years ago, Annie told me that Mom Ruth utilised every room in the house – including the loft – to accommodate a large gathering of family and friends during that time.

But without doubt, what makes this house special, is Mom Ruth, the lady of the house and Jesus, the Lord of her life, her house and everything within both.

I’m currently sat on that cosy green couch which hugs the far corner of Mom Ruth’s lounge. Over thirteen years ago, one very early morning in the summer of 2000, I sat where I am right now as I asked Mom Ruth for her daughter’s hand in marriage. It was a morning I will never forget – not least for how very nervous I was! As ever, Mom Ruth settled my nerves with her permission and gracious words of encouragement. This place has been the home of many wonderful, treasured memories of my life with my Annie.

I’m sat here on this couch this evening because I’ve come to see Mom Ruth before she goes home. Yes, before she goes home.┬áLast Wednesday, was the last day that I’ll get to spend in this house with Mom Ruth. Over the last few weeks her health has declined suddenly and rapidly, so much so that on Friday, October 18th, 2013, she left this house, one last time, for the nearby hospice/care-home.

The care home is a lovely place and we’ve already met a number of Christian nurses there. I just got back from spending a couple of hours with her there this evening. Physically, she is frail and fading and it is hard to see her so weak. And yet, like mother, like daughter, like Christ. Being at Mom Ruth’s bedside has been like being at my Annie’s bedside in many ways. The only way that I can describe it is that it’s the nearest thing I can imagine to being at the empty tomb of Jesus; a place of death and yet a place of life. Or like that Philippian jail in which the Apostle Paul and Silas were in chains; a place of darkness and imprisonment and yet a place of rejoicing and peace and hope. Mom Ruth has known great suffering and adversity in her life. She has seen the loss of her husband, her daughter and now she faces her final battle. But she knows Jesus as her Shepherd and King – and it shows. This evening we began singing hymns around her bedside. Although she is too weak to talk much and too weak to move much, as she heard the name of her Saviour being praised, her foot tapped out perfect 4/4 and 3/4 timing, and her lips moved, mouthed and even sounded out the words of those old hymns without the need of a hymn book.

I don’t know how long it will be now, but it might not be too long before she is eternally reunited. Reunited with so many loved ones – with the father, and husband and daughter she had and enjoyed here on earth. So many photographs on that refrigerator will be replaced with a reality so much better than any of those past moments captured in time and fading ink. She’s ready and headed for a place where there will be no more cancer, no more dying, no more loss, no more pain, no more tears. Those two long decades without her husband, those eight long years with cancer, those six long years watching her daughter suffer and die, those six long months without her daughter, will – for Mom Ruth – soon be far outweighed the moment – the very smallest unit of timelessness in eternity – that she sees, the darling of heaven, her Saviour, her King, her Lord, her Shepherd, her Jesus.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,┬ásince what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

In His Arms,


13 thoughts on “Sunday, October 20th 2013

  1. Dear Ryan,

    This is one of the most beautiful “pieces” that you have ever written in your blog. It is all so very true and you, with your God-given gift of “writing”, have put it into words which describe Ruthie and her dear home perfectly.

    We have been privileged to know Ruthie for over 33 years….I am her “American, Pennsylvania friend” and we have shared prayer together weekly with our “ladies” for many years. She is/has been such a Godly role model for us all and has taught us how to live….and how to die…I cannot understand why God has allowed so much suffering in her life, but she has brought honour to Jesus through it all.

    I shared a precious, unforgettable 1/2 hour with her on Sunday and will never forget her radiance and HOPE of meeting her SAVIOUR.

    May God continue to comfort and be ALL that you need as you face losing Anne’s dear Mom.

    Much love,

    Char Bergdahl

  2. We have been thinking of Ruthie a lot over recent days. We are traveling, visiting old friends and Arhangai, where we use to live. It has been wonderful spending time with friends but I am reminded how hard it is to leave them behind, thinking about this reminded me of you all again and Ruthie as she prepares to go home and leave you. I am sure it is a time of sadness and yet a joy which is so hard to explain. We are praying for you, trusting that the Lord is strengthening you.
    We know Ruthie so little and yet she has always been a blessing to us, a source of encouragement and inspiration; and yes she her sense of calm and peace have touched our hearts too. I always imagined her home was a haven of rest.

    Thank you for the post.

    Love Gill and Mark.

  3. I also remember that peaceful home. Guthrie and I stayed there twice while traveling. Her witness and hospitality were inspirational to me. I was blessed to know her. I look forward to seeing her again. God’s peace and blessings to you my dear friend Ryan.

  4. I have so so many fond memories in her lovely house, from house sitting to hanging out there with the young people, sleepovers with annie, I have always loved looking at the different photos and verses she put up on the fridge, Ruthie has been like a second Mum to so many, She has been such a testimony to so many and always been a ‘silent sufferer’. We are praying for her and the family, and pray that she goes peacefully to be with Him. Praise th Lord that she is going home. But she will be greatly missed by so many. Thank you Ry for what you said, Im sure this is not an easy time for you too. Sending lots of love x

  5. I too remember that green couch and always welcoming home of the Harris’s having grown up with Anne I spend most of my days with her there, Ruthie and John were always lovely people and I have many many memories from bible school, to fun 10 mile hikes and just sitting around that table giggling with Anne, my heart goes out to you all again. Praying for you. Sam

  6. Ry you perfectly described the place where annie grew up and where I have have sent probablly hundreds of letters in my first 18 years. Thank you for sharing this and we on this side of the ocean are with all of you there in thought and prayer. xo

  7. I echo your words Ry, being around her in the hospice is a special time and it is hard to leave her there when it is time to go home, not only for fear of what might happen while we are gone, but also it feels so…. i am not sure how to put it into words, but yes it feels happy and right, and it feels like Jesus is there with us, even though there are some very hard moments and very sad moments His presence is very real. joyx

  8. We are thinking and praying for Ruthie, we got to visit her last week and it was lovely to spend time with her. She was as always so gracious and positive, our prayer is that she will be in glory soon and her earthly suffering will be over. Our thoughts are with you, Tim, Joy and Tabitha. Love Ruth and Olive.

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