The last good day

Mrs. Gin, Kandice, and me

“There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”
― John Green

As of today at 5:55PM, Kathy Gin breathed her last breath here on earth, and is now with the Lord. She passed away at 56 years young of age and is survived by her husband David, her oldest son Christian, her middle daughter Kandice, and her youngest son Zachary. The doctor came in at 6:05PM to confirm that her body gave no pulse.

The picture above was the last picture I had with Kathy (or as I normally called her “Mrs. Gin”) and Kandice. It was the last good day I had with them and I did not even know it. That was almost a week ago. One week. And it was enough time for the cancer to metastasize to the point of being untreatable and debilitating her body to the point of robbing her of voice and breath in this life during her last two days here. Her voice, once filled with such ebullience and happiness, was silent.

But she did not pass away unnoticed. Mrs. Gin was a loving woman of God. She truly loved people with passion and joy. And it showed in her smile and speech; Mrs. Gin was one of the most chattiest women I have ever met. In fact, if you paired her with Kandice together, you would have a dynamic duo that is so chatty to the point where I can only sit down and wonder “so this is what it’s like to be an introvert~”

I’ve only known her for about 4 months and it was enough for her to make an impact on my life. When I started seeing her daughter, Mrs. Gin took the initiative in reaching out to me and showing me her care for my well-being, even in the little things. I have her to thank for making my first date with Kandice a success story in surprises (and that is a story for another time.)

So when Kandice and I rushed into the hospital yesterday after speeding through the freeway from Los Angeles to San Jose to pick Kandice up and drive to the hospital, Mrs. Gin was already bedridden and surrounded by droves of extended family and friends. Nurses and doctors wondered why that one room in the 5th floor kept getting visitors and overflowing with crowds of people.

Her preschool students sent her a binder filled with coloring papers that they filled out, family members came to drop by gifts and visit her, even to touch her and speak to her. Friends were there to hold her and talk to her. She was unable to speak, for her formerly loquacious vocal chords had become raspy; her esophagus parched, dried up of all moisture. Yet she was able to hear us and feel us tenderly pat her, letting her know. In the last days, when I spoke with Mrs. Gin, she locked eyes and twitched her eyebrows at me. I knew that I had her attention, despite the pain of cancer coursing in its relentless advances.

Kathy Gin loved much and she was greatly loved by much. She was not just Kandice’s mother, but she was everyone’s mother. I found myself shedding tears and choking up as I was reading Scripture passages to Kathy.

Treasure in Jars of Clay

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV)

And I saw a real manifestation of the suffering yet renewing spirit of that passage in Kathy Gin. I told her my thankfulness for her loving and caring for me, despite only having known me for a couple months. It was truly heart-wrenching to know that this was goodbye for now, that the questions I wanted to ask her will not be answered in this side of life, that the conversations I wished we had will not be happening here on Earth. But I recall a fellow brother reminding me that “The death of a Christian means we have completed all the good works God has prepared for us and its time to go home, we are in no way leaving something unfinished… our home going marks the completion of what God has prepared for us rather than missed future opportunity.”

Kandice has said that her mom lived a full life at 56 years young. And had so much more life to live. One of Kathy’s last words were “no more pain, I’m going to meet Jesus”

So during tonight at 5:55pm, as I held Mrs. Gin’s hand, Kandice looked into her mother’s drowsy eyes and told the words “I love you.” I felt her hand grip mine as Kandice saw her mouth stop breathing.

Kathy Gin impacted so many people in her life, and now she’s no longer in pain. Kandice said that she’s not sad that her mommy has gone to meet Jesus, but only wishes she had a little more time. And I feel the same too, knowing that those 4 months were absolutely sweet and a joy with her. I never knew that knowing someone for only that long would be enough to break me into tears.

I miss her so much for someone I’ve only known for a little bit. And I look forward to the kingdom of heaven, when I pass on to be with the Lord or when He comes back, that perhaps I would get the chance to have some good fruitful conversations with Kathy Gin, just like those last good days we had.

The final words she told Kandice to write were “Every day is a blessing, I’m thankful for each day. And I love everyone and I always will.”


He healed them all

Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all
and ordered them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Belated Church Wisdom

You can change the fellowship of the church but you cannot change the leadership.

So if you aren’t even being challenged at the church you’re at, there’s no chance that staying (and even serving there) will make the teaching any better.

One person can influence the dynamics and fellowship of the local church body. But unless that person is in a leadership position (as part of the elders/pastoral leaders) or able to significantly influence such people, one person simply cannot shift the entire teaching direction that the leaders have set.


Life-Changing Page

“And be not conformed to this world.”
Romans 12:2

If a Christian can by possibility be saved while he conforms to this world, at any rate it must be so as by fire. Such a bare salvation is almost as much to be dreaded as desired.

Reader, would you wish to leave this world in the darkness of a desponding death bed, and enter heaven as a shipwrecked mariner climbs the rocks of his native country? Then be worldly; be mixed up with Mammonites, and refuse to go without the camp bearing Christ’s reproach.

But would you have a heaven below as well as a heaven above?
Would you comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge?
Would you receive an abundant entrance into the joy of your Lord?

Then come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.

Would you attain the full assurance of faith? You cannot gain it while you commune with sinners. Would you flame with vehement love? Your love will be damped by the drenchings of godless society.

You cannot become a great Christian—you may be a babe in grace, but you never can be a perfect man in Christ Jesus while you yield yourself to the worldly maxims and modes of business of men of the world.

It is ill for an heir of heaven to be a great friend with the heirs of hell. It has a bad look when a courtier is too intimate with his king’s enemies.

Even small inconsistencies are dangerous. Little thorns make great blisters, little moths destroy fine garments, and little frivolities and little rogueries will rob religion of a thousand joys.

O professor, too little separated from sinners, you know not what you lose by your conformity to the world. It cuts the tendons of your strength, and makes you creep where you ought to run.

Then, for your own comfort’s sake, and for the sake of your growth in grace, if you be a Christian, be a Christian, and be a marked and distinct one.

[Charles Spurgeon, emphasis and formatting by MK; Happy New Year!]

The Moon

the sun and the moon
Photography: CarlosSilvestre62

“Like the moon, we borrow our light. Although we are bright when grace shines on us, we are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws Himself.” -Charles Spurgeon

We cannot rely on the grace of yesterday. We need grace every day and everywhere.

Not too long ago, a person asked me “what have I learned in the past year?” I had answered with something along the lines of being consistent and faithful in even the little things of life. But as I think about it more and more, I am realizing that I need God so desperately, so constantly that even in the minuscule moments of my life, I need His grace.

I need God so much to be faithful in even the little things.

I am like the moon. I can only reflect the glory of God, but I cannot emit His radiance on my own.

If I move away from His glorious grace, I will never shine. For “if the grace of God left the best Christian, there is enough sin in his heart to make him the worst of transgressors.” (Spurgeon) If for once I step away from the path of God’s grace, I become a hollowed husk, like the blackest of all sinners. When I remove myself from His grace, I am darkness’ embodiment.

Therefore, if there is one thing I’d resolve to do practically, it would be to constantly place myself in the path of His grace.

“Pray now; draw on the grace of God in the moment of need.” -Oswald Chambers

It’s like cough syrup

20120514-213646.jpgPhotography by heylovedc

Sometimes what we need from the Bible is not the fulfillment of our dream, but the swallowing up of our failed dream in the all-satisfying glory of Christ.

We do not always know the path of deepest joy. But all Scripture is inspired by God to take us there.

Therefore Scripture is worth more than all this world can offer.
-John Piper

It’s not the easiest medicine to swallow, but it may be that our failed dreams are the beginnings of our truest joy in Christ.

Empty Gifts

(A repost from PeaceMeal, an email newsletter from Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries)

Photography: Poet102

“…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Eph. 4:32

I could see the weariness in his face. “I’m sure both of you are in terrible pain, Rick. But I don’t think divorce is going to end it. You’ll just trade one kind of pain for another. There is a way to keep your marriage together and to truly put the past behind you. But you won’t find it with the empty forgiveness you’ve offered Pam.”

“What do you mean, ’empty forgiveness’?”

[Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 202]

Food for Thought

Does your forgiveness promise a lot but deliver a little?

“Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are both in the past, and many of us have gotten a jump on our Christmas shopping. Now that you’ve worked so hard to find a gift for a loved one, would you neglect to actually include it in the box when you give it to him or her?

Empty forgiveness. What if we confessed a serious sin to God and He said, “I forgive you…but I can’t be close to you, ever again?” We’d probably have a very strong reaction to that, countering with something like, “Well, that’s just empty forgiveness!” And it is. It’s not how God acts. But that’s how we act sometimes.

Consider for a moment those times this past year where it looked like you gave the gift of forgiveness; however, once the person opened it, they found the box was empty. For whatever reason(s), you’ve withheld intimacy or friendship, and you’ve just traded one kind of pain for another. As you head into the Christmas season, make sure the gift of forgiveness is more than a bright covering of wrapping and bows with nothing inside. Instead, by God’s grace, make your gifts jam-packed with true forgiveness, modeling the forgiveness that you have received from God in Christ (Eph. 4:32).