John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Isaac and Teresa Vatkin were married the year before I was born.
They met in Argentina, were married in 1947, and eventually moved to the USA, where they raised three children. Those who knew the couple said their marriage was a special one. For 69 years Isaac always wanted to be with his wife and his greatest joy was found in caring for Teresa, protecting her, and loving her.
That caring part of the relationship was especially true when Teresa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Eventually the two entered Illinois' Highland Park Hospital, where they were brought together in the same room. The two were holding hands when, late in the evening on April 22, 89-year-old Teresa passed away. As the hospital staff wheeled Teresa's bed out of the room, 91-year-old Isaac also died.
Those who follow such matters have seen such a thing happen before. They tell us it is not rare for people who have been close for a long time to pass away close together in time. It is called "the widowhood effect" or "broken-heart syndrome." Sometimes the deaths occur a month apart, sometimes -- as in the case with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher -- it is a matter of days; and upon occasion, as it was for Teresa and Isaac, death can be separated by only a few minutes.
At Isaac and Teresa's joint funeral, their son commented on his parents' joint passing. He said, "The moment he felt we removed her hand from his, he was able to say, "OK. I'm done protecting her. I can go and rest as well." It was, he said, "the ultimate in chivalry, (dad did it), so he could go to heaven and open the door for her."
With those words the son expressed a romantic, a beautiful, a gentle sentiment. I can see why he felt the way he did.
But I must also disagree with him.
If the door to heaven was opened for his mother, it was not his father's hand that was on the handle. The only Person who could open that door is the Savior Jesus.
Isaac and Teresa loved each other for many years, but Jesus had loved them longer. That long-married couple may have made many sacrifices for each other, but only Jesus could live His life, carry their sins, and die the death sin had brought about, so salvation could be offered to them.
Scripture is clear: the nail-pierced hands of the living Lord open heaven's door. He is, and always will be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." For those who have known love and those who have lived alone, He is the door who lets believing, forgiven sinners into an eternity of peace and joy.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I may always look to You for the gift of eternal life. While I may know many moments of love in my life, grant that I may always recognize the uniqueness of the Savior's sacrificial love for me. In Jesus' Name I pray it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including the editors of Newser and the wire services on April 26, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: http://www.newser.com/story/241894/couple-married-69-years-die-holding-hands.html
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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