“At the end of that time I…praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.  All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Now I praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just…” (Daniel 4:34-35, 37, NIV).

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March 29, 2011

We have two friends, both who model their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, with serious liver problems. Sheila and Barry are similar in many ways – about the same age, faithful to their families and their Lord. Sheila has been waiting on both a liver and kidney transplant. Barry is suffering from liver cancer and was hoping for a new liver as well. Providentially, they are even in the same hospital. But in the space of just a few hours their stories diverged. Today, on the very same day, they got “the call.”   

Sheila’s call was one of hopeful expectation. A donor had been found and she was rushed to Vanderbilt hospital to await the donor harvesting and a next day surgery. This organ donation could give her restored physical health after years of dialysis and debilitation. Because someone had died with such grace, donating their body parts that others might live, she had reason to rejoice, even though it was with understandable anxiety.

Barry’s call was quite different. He had fought and waited, praying to see his youngest son grow into maturity. There was no transplant for him and it was too late. He had less than one week to live. The last time I talked to Barry, just after a Sunday school class, he affirmed his faith in a sovereign God and said he prayed daily that he would remain firm in his faith no matter what was in store for him in this life. Today we found out Barry was being called home. 

April 1, 2011  

From Sheila’s CaringBridge.com journal: 

“I [Sheila’s husband, Don] just got a phone call from Sheila’s nephrologist (kidney specialist) at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. This doctor, one of the few experts in Sheila’s disease has been following and driving Sheila’s care since the original diagnosis in 2007. The outpouring of love this week for Sheila (& me) has been enormous. Thank you to all the doctors and nurses who have been involved in Sheila’s care and to you all for your love, prayers and support. We couldn’t get through this without it. Sheila has enjoyed a mostly restful day and might move out of the ICU this weekend.”  

From an email updating Barry’s condition: 

“Barry’s ex-wife just called. They were preparing to take Barry home this afternoon, but his blood pressure continues to drop. So they are going to keep him at Vanderbilt and remove his IV’s and let him pass there.  That could happen any time today.” 

April 2, 2011 

From Don, Sheila’s ever-faithful husband: 

“Great news! Sheila is no longer classified as critical care. She’s just another average patient in recovery from surgery now, albeit one with 2 new organs in her tummy. Thanks for your ongoing prayer support.” 

The latest on Barry: 

The countdown is now calculated in hours. His family, including his two sons, has gathered by his side. His funeral service has been planned. Barry’s call will soon be answered and he will have a glorious face-to-face meeting with His Jesus. And he will soon exchange his worn out earthly tent for his “house from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2).

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I know God is sovereign and I praise him for that, just like Nebuchadnezzar did in the 4th chapter of Daniel. It brings me great peace, hope, and joy that He is. But since I’m incapable of fully understanding or explaining Sheila and Barry’s story, may I be so bold as to take Paul’s words to the Philippian church and apply it to their situation? I hope this honors them and the sovereign God they serve – for to Him is all the glory forever and ever, Amen. 

[Sheila and Barry] – “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. [Sheila] – For to me to live is Christ, [Barry] –  and to die is gain. [Sheila]If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. [Barry]My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. [Sheila] But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Philippians 1:18-24).

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