Dedicated to my friend Louis van der Westhuizen (19/05/1938 – 21/06/2012)
When I wanted to go and show this email message to my friend Louis to hear whether he agrees that I distribute it, I had to learn that he had died a couple of hours earlier.
My friend Louis is very ill. He breathes with difficulty, but his voice always reflects a joy. If I ask him how he is, he often replies “Well ‘ou’ Gert, I drink out of the saucer, because my cup is overflowing.” He says, together with David: You prepare a table before me …. my cup overflows (Ps. 23:5). He says that many nights he cannot sleep. When the day dawns, he repeats to himself the text: This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24). Then he decides that he will be happy that day. Later that morning his wife, Wilbé, takes him to the Mall where she pushes him in a wheel-chair. There he talks to friend and stranger.
It is amazing how positive people can be about life, even though their circumstances are not good at all. Perhaps we must more often ponder the words: This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. It is a wonderful consolation for every day. We don’t know whether we’ll still live tomorrow. Today God has specially granted us another day of life. It is his day, He has made it. Jeremiah tells how badly it went with him and his people. But then he writes further: The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope (Lam. 3:1-24).
Louis celebrated his birthday recently. Wilbé said: “We’re going to celebrate life. “We also see in the animal kingdom how precious life is. Many animals have one way or the other to protect their lives, some aren’t strong but can run fast, the tortoise is slow but can withdraw into his shell, the porcupine has quills, and so we can mention many. The sheep, however, is defenseless, especially a lamb. Sheep are raised to be slaughtered. Isaiah prophesies about Someone who shall come and who chose to be as defenseless as a lamb: He was treated harshly, but endured it humbly; he never said a word. Like a lamb about to be slaughtered, like a sheep about to be sheared, he never said a word (Is. 53:7). The words of Isaiah became true in the life of Jesus. He died on the cross but rose again from the dead. He gave his life so that we may have true life: For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. … Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Rom. 6:5-8).
We also read about another day, the day of Christ Jesus: And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6). That is the day when Jesus again comes visibly to take his children to Him. Believers have the wonderful consolation: although there may not be another day for them on this earth, there is a new day for them, which is the Day of Christ Jesus. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Our eternal, heavenly Father, Help us each morning to remember that this is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen