The phone rang early Tuesday morning as the nurse at the hospice home was concerned that Leon was struggling a lot. Only two hours later another call came that said Leon’s soul walked in to heaven. That must have been some awesome entrance as our friend met the Savior he has been talking about for a long time.
I am not sure that I was really prepared for this day. Leon White has been part of our church for over five years, and this short, skinny black man with a big smile and awesome hugs stole our hearts and embedded himself into our family. This man loved God. He loved his church, and his church loved him very much.
Early in the Leon became a part of The Community Fellowship I remember him sharing his testimony. In the past I remember church people stepping away from folks who share about a shady past. But when Leon talked about being in prison for killing a man while dealing with a horrible drug addiction, our people flocked to him. I remember watching people hug and love on Leon. It really was incredible.
Leon White has been a walking and living story of 2nd chances. There are few, very few, people like our Leon. He would answer the phone by saying, “praise the Lord”. His greeting to you at church was always a hug and how are you. We’d exchange our “God is good” sayings. He really has been a breathe of fresh air, a shining light and a big encouragement to all.
But was I really prepared? Was I prepared for Leon’s death? Leon’s family lives a good ways away, and our church family and his neighbors have been closest to Leon the last several years and through his battle with cancer. This hasn’t been easy, yet I cherish the time we spent together. Last week I spent several hours with him. It was evident that the cancer had progressed and the pain was difficult, and the hospice workers were very helpful. Leon and I talked for a few minutes about going to heaven and meeting Jesus. He knew peace then, and he knows real peace now.
Psalm 116:15 NLT
The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.
To be ready for death is something we need to think about and even plan for. That is why Jesus came to earth. We need to make sure we share this fact with the people we come in contact with.
John 3:16 NLT
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
And even stronger what we are to do that Jesus did:
John 3:17 NLT
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
In my imagination I saw Leon walk in to heaven today. There is no more pain. The struggles of life are all gone. His family and his friends are missing our family member and friend, but we will see him again. We never seem to be ready for death, and this is when we have to trust and lean on God.