Live with Heaven in View
April 01, 2015
Losing her father and son has taught Verna to keep her eyes heavenward.
My parents raised their children carefully and taught us to love and respect God and His house. The Word of God was planted in our hearts from an early age. My siblings and I were faithfully taken to Sunday school and church. Our parents also made sure we read the Bible and prayed—not by asking us if we had, but by reading and praying with us.
Mom and Dad went to God for everything. Their trust in Him was constant and never wavered. Many times when I was sick, they knelt beside my bed and prayed for me. On one occasion, my throat was quite swollen from tonsillitis. They prayed, and God undertook. Through situations like this, it was instilled in my heart to trust the Lord.
When I was about ten years old, I knelt and prayed asking the Lord to come in and make a change in my heart, and He saved me. Even though I was a young girl, He made a change that was real; He put peace and joy in my heart. Later, I also received the experiences of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Soon after receiving salvation, I began playing the violin in the church orchestra. Previously on several occasions I had sat among the congregation listening to the music and playing two pencils like a violin. There had never been any doubt in my mind that someday I would serve the Lord in the orchestra. I later joined the choir as well.
A turning point in my life came shortly before my twenty-first birthday when the Lord suddenly called my father home to Heaven. It became very real to me that the most important thing in life is to make sure we are spiritually prepared to make Heaven our home. I had been enjoying life, earning my own money working as a stenographer and making plans for my future. I had also gathered a few earthly treasures: a nice automobile, some new clothes, and a few household items that I had set aside to be used in my future home one day. With my dad’s passing, I was reminded of Matthew 6:19-20, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” The Lord helped me to really see, as I had been taught, that when we leave this world, we take nothing with us.
When it came time to marry, the Lord provided a wonderful Christian husband for me. Chet and I were married on Valentine’s Day in 1970. Before long, the Lord blessed us with three children. I can remember thinking before I was married that one day I would like to have five boys but no girls. However, when the nurse placed our first baby, a girl, into my arms, I was in love. We named her Kristina Marie. I was thrilled when the second baby was a boy. We named him Robert Charles after our fathers. Kristi was three-and-a-half when he was born, and immediately took on a motherly role, always looking out for him. While expecting our third child, I was hoping for another girl and got my wish—Andria Lyn (Ondi) was born. She was only two years behind Robbie and they became great friends. He loved to tease and torment her, but they enjoyed many hours together. They played sports including basketball, paintball, and rollerblade hockey. They also went swimming and four-wheeling, and were in several bands together.
As our children grew, there were two things I wanted most for them: that they would give their hearts to the Lord while young, and that they would eventually make Heaven their home. Our three children did choose the Gospel. Chet and I were able to pray with each of them and observe the change that was made in their hearts as they prayed through to salvation and dedicated their lives to serving the Lord.
Robbie gave his heart to the Lord sometime before turning ten. As with the girls, we watched him grow spiritually, using his talents in the service of the Lord. Then one morning in 1994, two days before his nineteenth birthday, my phone rang at work and I was told that Robbie had been in a skiing accident. I called Chet and then received a second phone call that Robbie was hurt very badly. We rushed to get to the hospital in Yakima, Washington, where the helicopter was taking him, but before we were even out of town, Kristi learned from the emergency room doctor that Robbie was gone. The Lord had thought it good to take him Home.
Robbie was the kind of son any parent would be proud of. He was a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky kid who loved life. I am thankful that he was not ashamed to show affection to his family. He gave us hugs and kisses often, and told us that he loved us. In fact, only three days before the accident, Chet and I took Ondi and Robbie to meet Kristi and her husband, Gary, for dinner to celebrate Robbie’s upcoming birthday. When it was time to part, Robbie ran to Kristi and Gary and gave them both hugs and said he loved them. Gary commented on how unexpected and great this was.
Though Robbie lived a relatively short time on this earth, his life had an impact on others concerning the Gospel. When he was about fourteen, we moved next door to a boy named Jason. Jason was rough around the edges, and we were a little hesitant about the boys spending much time together, but because they were in the same grade and went to the same school, it was not long before they became close friends.
Jason has said Robbie was a real friend who was loyal, steady, and consistent, even when they disagreed. He grew to respect him and to listen to what he had to say. Toward the end of high school, Jason moved with his family to Kelso, Washington, but continued to keep in touch by phone. The boys also got together periodically to play paintball or go fishing. During this time, Robbie became instrumental in Jason giving his heart to the Lord. Today the Lord is using Jason to lead others to Christ. He is the supervisory chaplain at a federal prison which houses 3,500 inmates.
Realizing that with one false move on the ice, they could all be gone, he said, “Be careful; you guys don’t need to go today.” Robbie’s response was, “If today is my day to go, I am ready!”
The two boys were together the day Robbie died. They and another friend had decided to go skiing, and left early that morning for the White Pass ski area in Washington. Jason tells me that on the way, the conversation turned to church and doctrine, which led to a discussion about being ready to go to be with the Lord. Jason was in the passenger seat looking out over the cliffs. Realizing that with one false move on the ice, they could all be gone, he said, “Be careful; you guys don’t need to go today.” Robbie’s response was, “If today is my day to go, I am ready!”
Those words were such an assurance to us in the days and weeks that followed Robbie’s accident. During that time, the Lord was with us and we were able to lean on Him. He overshadowed me with a peace beyond all understanding that only He could give. I could not comfort Chet, nor could he comfort me, but I could kneel beside my bed and pour out my heart to the Lord. What came out was not, “Why?” or even, “This can't be happening,” but, “Lord, I love You.” Every time I got down to pray, I just wanted to tell Him I loved Him in spite of my hurt, because He was still that Friend that I needed. He provided great comfort then and now. One example took place a few years ago. While I was praying one evening it was as if the Lord just said to me, “Let me hug you.” I was so encouraged.
My early Christian training helped as well. My parents lived their lives believing that whatever they had belonged to God, and if He chose to, it was His to take. They had also lost a child. Before I was born, their seven-year-old son had been hit and killed by a car on my dad’s birthday. I once asked my mom, “What did you do?” She told me that it happened during the beginning of our church’s camp meeting, so they did the best thing they could have done—following the funeral, they packed their suitcases and went to camp meeting. That was how I was raised. Of course, I did not want to be tested on it, but because of this upbringing, I never doubted that God had everything under His control.
Every day I pray, “Lord, give me an opportunity to share my experiences in the Gospel with someone.”
I miss Robbie every day, but I know I will see him again, and there is great comfort in knowing the Lord has used his passing to further the Gospel. At his memorial service, we were able to witness to over eight hundred people. This put new zeal in my heart to tell others about Jesus. Every day I pray, “Lord, give me an opportunity to share my experiences in the Gospel with someone.”
The Lord has answered that prayer in many ways. In 1980, I applied for and received a secretarial position with the City of Chehalis. My boss, who claimed to be an atheist, became interested in my religious beliefs and asked many questions. At times when I felt my answers were incomplete, I brought our church literature to him as a better explanation. For several weeks, he watched my life, noticing such things as that I prayed before eating lunch. He also listened as I talked about my church: the music, the Sunday school classes, and the joy I had in attending our services. The Lord led the situation in a wonderful way, and one day my boss asked me to tell someone on the phone that he was not in the office. When I refused, he was puzzled. I told him, “I can't say that. It would be a lie.” It disturbed him to realize he had asked me to lie for him, and the Lord began talking to his heart.
When our church announced a weekend of special meetings, I invited my boss to attend. At his first meeting, he received a genuine welcome from the saints. Having never attended a service such as ours, he sat intently listening to the music and to what was being said. The hymns, which were all new to him, the testimonies, and the message all spoke to his heart. After a few services, he experienced the joy of the Lord for himself at an altar of prayer. For over sixteen years afterward, I continued in that job and was blessed to work with a Christian boss.
Since that time I have had the privilege to witness for the Lord through several temporary job assignments. I am always thankful to be given the opportunity to connect with people and try to reach some of the lost souls of the world for the Lord. In 1996, Chet was called to pastor the Apostolic Faith Church in Yakima. When we arrived, we were received by a wonderful church family, and right away felt the love of the saints and the unity that was in that place. For four years, we had the privilege of ministering to God’s people there.
There were tests of faith during that time. We had left behind a house in Chehalis, Washington, that needed to be sold. We prayed about the situation and placed the matter in the Lord’s hands, but I continued to worry. Then, during camp meeting the Lord helped me to give my concerns fully to Him, and He answered in a way that was better than we could have imagined. He sent saints from the Portland church to buy our house and join the congregation in Chehalis. They had already put money down on another house, but the Lord worked everything out. That seller received another offer contingent on the sale of a home that also had a contingency offer on it. In all, three houses sold so ours could be bought.
In 2000, Chet was called to pastor the church in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. We had the privilege to live in Canada for over eleven years and witnessed many wonderful answers to prayer during that time. Once, a lady in our church and I prayed in the hospital for her newborn one-pound baby boy. I remember telling the Lord: “All we have is You. We come to You, needing Your help.” He did not fail us; the child lived, and although the doctors predicted he would have many serious health concerns, today he is a strong, healthy boy attending grade school.
The Lord has never failed. He is with us every day in the big trials and in the small. Recently, Chet and I were reminded of this when we saw the Lord work in our home in a special way. We had made the very difficult decision to give up our two little dogs after six years. That same week, our pickup was broken into, I ended up in the emergency room of the hospital, and my wallet was stolen from my hand bag while I was at the store.
It was a hard week, but in thinking back over it, I realized the Lord was good to us in spite of these trials. He helped us find a kind and loving environment for our dogs, He prevented our pickup from being stolen, I was able to come home from the hospital with encouraging test results, and last but not least, my wallet was returned with my driver’s license still in it. That was a real miracle. The week’s events proved to me, once again, that the Lord cares about the big things and the small. I believe it is His desire to bring us comfort and peace when we go through hard places.
Now Chet and I have reached retirement age. As I look back over my life and see how the Lord has worked, I am amazed. That little girl who gave her heart to the Lord so many years ago has truly been blessed. I have two precious daughters, a son in Heaven, seven terrific grandchildren, and a loving church family. All of this is in addition to the Lord giving me victory over sin, peace in my heart, and the wonderful hope of Heaven.
I look forward to being together with family and loved ones in Heaven one day, but most of all to seeing Jesus and telling Him face to face how much I love Him!