From Sue Ross, posted 7th July 2002
JANE – a friend, a soul mate, a sister in the Lord. I first met Jane in 1977 just after my conversion to Jesus Christ. We didn’t choose to be friends, but God chose us to be prayer partners. As the prayer partnership blossomed and we discovered together an intimacy and joy with God in prayer and worship – THEN came the friendship…strong and deep and rooted in God – a unique friendship like no other. Jane commented when they moved from Ashford – “We have a friendship, you and I., that is eternal. No matter how far apart we may travel, there will always be that oneness in the Spirit of God between us that distance can never break.”
In 1991 the family moved even further away – to Northern Ireland. But that bond between us remained strong. We both moved on and made new friends, and our contact was not regular. BUT, when one of us did write or ring the other it was always the right time with just the right words of encouragement. Why? Because that bond between us was Jesus Himself. April 2000 – God spoke to me, “You are going to NI this summer.” I’d never been before, so I told my husband, and carried on through the summer, waiting on God, wondering when and why. At the end of July a letter came from Jane with devastating news – cancer in the liver…inoperable…just months to live. I pushed the letter into Peter’s hand and headed out to the fields with the dog for my regular rendezvous with God. The floodgates opened…I thought the tears would never stop. But they did, when the Holy Spirit spoke to me: “There is work to be done.” I covenanted with God to stand in the gap in prayer for my friend, and not move from my station, as a prayer watchman over her life, until He, the Sovereign Lord, told me to stand down.
Peter said to me: ” You are going.” I said: “Yes, God has already said it. Now we know why.” Two weeks later I was in NI. We met in the hospital, my friend and I. As we held on to each other the power of God came upon both of us in an amazing way, and from that moment an anointing of the Spirit of God remained on us. Yes the ravages of cancer were beginning to show in her body, but the Joy of the Lord kept bubbling up that week. We had such fun together – we talked, we prayed, we laughed and we giggled a lot. Such Joy – no matter what the cancer did, the Victory was already accomplished, and it showed in Jane’s face. The worst it could do was take her physical life, and Jane knew that was playing into the hands of God for, as a Christian, she had a certain Hope, that when it came to closing her eyes on earth, she would wake up in Glory, face to face with the Saviour she so loved…no victory there for the pernicious enemy attacking her body.
You will know the highs and lows of the next 18 months, having read Michael’s calendar of the events. My feelings during those months, which came to a close with Jane going to Glory on January 19th 2002? My feelings were mixed – there were moments of being caught unawares by such overwhelming grief at the sight of my very special friend suffering so much. But these, however real, did not predominate.
The sicker she got the more I saw the beauty of Jesus in her face. The love between us deepened and was purified constantly by the fiery trial that she was going through. I kept close, and was changed in the process…I will never be the same again. I am so thankful to God. I hated seeing her suffer, but never felt the darkness of despair, for through it all I saw God do a most beautiful work in the life of my friend. She was not perfect, and she was the first to say so. She was well aware of the weaknesses in her being exposed by this trial, and she hated the thought of people putting her on a pedestal as if she were some sort of superwoman because of the way she was coping! BUT the One doing that work in her is perfect, and everyone who came into contact with her were blessed, touched, moved and changed by something she was allowing God to do in her life where it mattered. God touched lives through her…and I testify to that personally.
There were intimate moments, funny moments, practical moments that were also very poignant as well. I recall her coming out of hospital in December 2001, with a nasal/gastric feeding tube in place. The nurse had shown me how to change the feeding bottles and wash out the tube coming out of her nose. All fingers and thumbs fiddling with the cap that wouldn’t open when you wanted it too, and flying open with greatest of ease during wash-out, when you didn’t want it to, giving Jane an early morning shower, and I perspired gently with the concentration! One day during the procedure I looked up from eyeball contact with her nose, and saw her looking silently at me…a look that spoke volumes. I replied to the look: “I love you too.” She was always thanking me for the little things I did. But it was such a privilege, and I wished I could do more.
It wasn’t until 3 months after her death that the loss suddenly hit me. Oh how I missed my friend – the sound of her voice, the touch of her hand, the joy of her fellowship, the honesty between us, painful at times but so healing and refreshing; the look from her eyes, that spoke volumes. And gratitude – she was always grateful that I stuck in there with her all the way and didn’t shrink back. But the gratitude was mutual – did she ever grasp how much I was encouraged by her?
One day we will meet again, and there won’t be any rush, any time limit. We’ll have eternity to gaze into the face of Jesus, the One we loved so much, because He first loved us and we’ll have eternity to reminisce.