Monday, July 11, 2016

The Passing of Margaret Rainwater

Dear First Southern Baptist Church; grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that our dear sister in the Christ, Chong Sun "Margaret" Rainwater, passed away last night due to complications from cancer affecting primarily her brain and her lungs. She is gone from this earth and with her Lord forever. My fingers tremble as I type it, a mixture of pain and mourning but also great relief and rejoicing. I know that she is home.

The last time I was with Margaret was a little over a week ago, when the elders and I came to her home and participated in the Lord's Supper together. In our prayers, we praised God for this wonderful woman and all that she had been to our church since being baptized here in 1978, born again and alive in Christ longer than I've been alive and breathing the air of this world.

We rejoiced and understood, as Margaret understood, that her body would die and she would pass in a matter of days. Oh, but she spoke so fondly of heaven and her God and Savior, Jesus Christ. As her body was falling apart and shutting down, she had such joy to say, "These are the happiest days of my life." I never once heard her complain.

That kind of hope is so convicting. Over the last couple of weeks, I have complained about the fatigue I'm experiencing from a lack of sleep, taking a physical and emotional toll, among other things I've been quick to grumble over. I have been short with my children and the dogs. I have been meditating more on the things of this world than the things of heaven. I have failed to surrender my thoughts to God.

And yet Margaret, dying of cancer and struggling to breathe, said that she was so happy. More so, that these were the happiest moments of her life. Oh God, that I would be restored and rejoice in my salvation that you have given and hold me steadfast to the end, being thankful in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is right for me to feel this way. I want to mourn. I want to suffer. I want to miss my sister in the Lord. To the glory of God. Yes, we celebrate her passing into the arms of Jesus, but we also mourn at this reminder that the wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Margaret knew she was a sinner, but she knew she was saved in Christ, to the glory of God.

I've sat with Margaret and listened to her stories, in the hospital and in her home. I've heard about her wonderful experiences and her trials. She showed me pictures of her son and his children, so happy and proud of each one of them. She was not a techy woman, but she got a smart phone just so she could keep in touch with her family.

On this last visit, after telling another story, she sighed and with a smile she said, "A day is coming soon when God is going to take my hand, he is going to say, 'No more stories, Enough stories," and I am going to walk through the gates of heaven and hear him say, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.'"

I am so grateful to God for her friendship. She was grateful for ours. She expressed thankfulness for our church and how wonderful everyone has been to her. She finished the race, and she finished strong. I have watched many walk away from the church, slandering me and the body of Christ. Though I rejoice and labor on even that I should suffer for the name of Christ, I cannot deny the hurt it has caused me and the anguish that I feel.

Margaret is no longer suffering in her body. She finished strong. She finished very strong. I'm so, so honored to have been her pastor. I know I will see her again we we are together with our Lord forever.

This life is so temporary, my friends. What comes after it is one of the most important questions we can ask. Salvation is only through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God, to the glory of God the Father, who satisfied the wrath of God and took away the penalty of death which we are all under.

But God loved the world so much -- a great volume of love we can hardly fathom, that we will never come to the end of -- that he did not leave us dead in our sins. He sent his Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice on the cross. He lived the perfect life we could not live, and took upon himself a penalty we deserved, paying a price we could not pay.

Repent of your sins and follow Jesus Christ as Lord. Believe that he was crucified and buried in a tomb, and that he came back to life, taught many more things and performed miracles for 40 days before ascending into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the Father, He will return again to judge the living and the dead. And only if you are in Christ will we escape the judgment of God.

When God ushers in his peaceful kingdom forever, removing all evil and establishing all righteousness, who we believed in the Son shall have eternal life in a place where there is no more dying, no more tears, no more pain. It is that day that I long for. It is that day I know I will be united with God and with the people of God who have gone before us.

I am going to fast this week and also step away from the internet, keeping contact only with members of our church congregation. I won't be doing WWUTT videos or the podcast, which will resume on Tuesday, July 19. We will update you on information about the funeral, which will be in cooperation with the Korean Baptist Church but held in our building. Please frequent the church Facebook page for updates.

My body mourns. My mind is a cloud. I am tired and hungry. But I am thankful. I am washed. I am sanctified. I am justified in the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Grace to you, First Southern Baptist Church. I will speak to you again soon.

Pastor Gabe