from the desk of…”Heavenly mansions”

By Judy Smith, Lt. Colonel

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop

In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;

And someday yonder, we will never more wander,

But walk on streets that are pure as gold!

Recently, my mother was promoted to Glory. My sisters and I have been trying to cope with the ensuing tasks, including taking care of personal belongings, funeral arrangements, insurance and final expenses.

In planning her celebration of life service, my middle sister wanted us to sing a favorite chorus. We didn’t think we could pull that off as a congregational song, but we asked Major Suzanne Hill to play a piano solo in Mom’s honor and to incorporate the chorus, “I’ve Got a Mansion,” within the piece. To our delight, she played an arrangement of “It Is Well with My Soul,” and in the middle she inserted the familiar strains of “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.” All three of us smiled through our tears.

Our mother had been doing well for a woman of her age. She was sick for a relatively short time, so when she went into hospice care we were surprised. My middle sister and I quickly made flight arrangements to be with Mom and our older sister, her caretaker. On the morning of our departure, however, when we received a phone call telling us that our mother had been promoted to Glory, we were stunned and dismayed—we had missed that last opportunity to assure her of our love and to physically say goodbye! God knows our deep sorrow because we just narrowly missed Mom’s last moments on earth.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (NIV).

We were not consumed. Even though we did not understand why everything happened as it did, we always knew who was in charge. Carol, Pam and I “knew” that God was the one who chose the time and place for Mom’s homecoming and nothing we did would change that. Because of this knowledge we are able to live full lives; bitterness and grief do not consume us. Even though tears and sorrow may come upon us, the love of God fills that empty hole in our hearts.

As we were growing up, we saw how  Mom lived. It was obvious that she loved God and was fully committed to serve him. We were proud of the way she showed love to others by honoring all people and helping as many as she could. She was a League of Mercy secretary whom any corps would have appreciated.

We three girls observed both our mom and dad as they served God—at work, at home and as soldiers of the Portland Tabernacle Corps. We saw how they treated others with respect; that is how we learned how to treat others and to put their needs before ours.

God never promises that our loved ones will live forever; that we never have to say goodbye or feel sorrow from the death of a loved one. But he did promise that we will always have his joy in our life through times of sorrow or despair. He also promises that we will see our loved ones again on that day when we go to our heavenly reward. I know I will see Mom again in heaven. Praise God for his promises!

   “And someday we will never more wander, but walk on streets that are pure as gold.”  

God, what a wonderful promise you have given to your children. Our lives are filled with your joy here on earth, and we will one day live with you in heaven—walking streets that are pure as gold (Rev. 21:21). That is something to be joyful about, and I praise you for your gift of salvation that I accepted so many years ago.

Ildra will not soon be forgotten! Her life and her influence in this world will be remembered for a long time by her family and friends; she will even be remembered as a dedicated 2nd cornet player in the Portland Tabernacle Band. Just thinking about that brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to have a wonderful mother like Ildra Smith. My sisters and I will thank you for the rest of our lives for her love and influence, which shaped the way that we live, and her encouragement to stay on the pathway you set for each of us.

Thanks also for your compassion and faithfulness that allows me to live a life filled to the brim with your joy and peace! And praise you, God, for your promises that are true and faithful to all believers for all eternity.

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