Was It Worth It?
We had maintained a continued vigil in the coronary care unit as Lilyan’s life hung by a thread, but she rallied (for which we fervently prayed) when her beloved daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren arrived from up North. Lilyan’s life here on earth was drawing to a close, and she was leaving it amid much suffering. We awaited our Heavenly Father’s decision regarding those last hours.
How vividly I remember our first meeting in July of 1978 as I knocked on the door of Lilyan and Sid’s home. Beverly, a member of our church, had made contact with Lilyan and her elderly mother as they waited to be seated in a restaurant. Lilyan’s mom, Sonia, used a tripod cane, and she said to Beverly’s mom, who used a walker, “How can you smile that way? You’re on a walker. I’m on a cane, and I have nothing to smile about!” Bev’s mom responded, ‘’Oh, I do! I know the Lord!” That conversation led ultimately to an exchange of names and phone numbers and a promise that a Jewish believer who attended their church would visit them. (This account appeared in ISRAEL MY GLORY, August/September, 1982).
Happily, within several months of that initial encounter, Sonia received the Messiah Jesus into her heart, and her life began to change at the age of 80! Lilyan and Sid, her daughter and son-in-law, with whom she lived, were happy about her new faith because it added a new dimension to her life – new friends and new activities. Hence it kept her “occupied.” Sonia was glad to go to church services, Golden-Ager dinners and various Bible studies. As for themselves, they were not interested.
When Sonia wanted to have a Bible study in her home, Lilyan gave her blessing and warmly welcomed a group of ladies in each week. Then she went out to sit around the pool with her friends. Since rainy weather forced her to stay in on one of those days, she again received the ladies and then returned to the den. However, she could not help but overhear the joyous singing, and, more importantly, she overheard the Bible being taught! Now she was listening. She confessed how she began to inch her way out of the den, through the hall and into the living room. She became captivated with the Word of God from that time on, and it wasn’t long before the Spirit of God drew her to Himself.
She allowed herself the time to investigate the facts concerning Jesus as Messiah and her personal sin-bearer, and she became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. Her life, like that of her mother’s, began to change.
Lilyan’s faith sustained her as she had to say a temporary goodbye to her beloved mother, and she was so comforted in knowing she was with the Lord. During Sonia’s critical illness, Sid gave his heart to the Lord! Lilyan was doubly comforted.
Sid and Lilyan started attending Bible study and church regularly and began to grow in the things of God. They were both delighted to discover their marriage became happier, more peaceful and their love deepened. Sid would so often say, “Why couldn’t we have become believers in our younger years?” (Had anyone ever approached them before with the gospel prior to our encounter? No, no one had.)
The ensuing years led to many changes for Lil and Sid. Lil was so excited with her new relationship with the Lord that she did not hesitate to share her new discovery with all whom she knew. Lil would not compromise what she believed, and so lifelong friends and close neighbors who did not approve of their new faith soon dropped them, but the Lord brought new Christian friends into their lives.
Both these dear people had experienced ill health leading to many surgeries, and while Sid fared well, Lil did not, and her health continued to deteriorate. Each surgery for Lil was life-threatening, particularly the last one, and her poor weak heart was giving out. Through this devastating illness, she continued to look to the Lord for comfort and strength and for His help in her ordeal.
Was Lilyan’s trust in Christ worth the loss of so many friends? Knowing Lil as well as I did, she would say, as she has so often in the past, “Marion, only the good Lord saw me through the loss of my darling mother! Only the good Lord took away my own fear of death. Only the good Lord saw me through all my serious illnesses and surgeries. Only the good Lord gave me a new marriage. The good Lord saved my son-in-law, and He’s going to save my daughter and grandchildren as well! Only the good Lord gave me a new life with meaning and taught me to think differently!”
Lilyan Singer was taken Home to be with the Lord on March 12th. She left all the suffering behind her only to know joy forevermore in His presence. The day before her homegoing, Lilyan asked me to sing “Amazing Grace” with her. I bent down to be close to her face, which was covered with an oxygen mask. She sang that song so well, so clearly, with such perfect timing, saying each word with so much conviction, that I was totally amazed because she was barely able to talk. She sang with more facility than I was able to muster. Then she asked me to sing “Because He Lives” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” The last words of a dying person are exceedingly important; they reveal the true state of the heart!
In her earthly life, as a Hebrew Christian, Lilyan sought to be a God-pleaser and not a man-pleaser, to be a servant of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart and to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I believe with all of my heart that the Lord did greet Lilyan with the words from Matthew 25:21, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
You tell me, was it worth it?