My Sister Jessie Is with Jesus
Elizabeth Rice Handford shares comfort in mourning
Photo by Tom Kilpatrick
It’s hard for me to tell you I lost my sister and dear friend this week. I was tempted simply to choose a Scripture about Heaven with you, and avoid the pain of talking about the loss. But it occurs to me that you may also be grieving the loss of a loved one, and you may long to be sure they are safe with Jesus.
So I tell you that Jessie is with Jesus. It’s not because she was such a good person, though she certainly was a very godly woman. But it’s because she had done the one thing, Jesus said, that could give her eternal life with Him. Let me reminisce with a story from a time long ago.
The year is 1934. Spring. Dallas Texas. Jessie and I are sitting on the stoop of the back porch. She’s 5 years old; I’m 6½. We’re each drinking a bottle of ginger ale, a rare treat in those depression days. NW Sales Company on Jefferson Street had a fire, and Daddy had bought a couple of cases from their fire sale, so we felt we lived in luxury!
But I was worried about Jessie. Here she was, five years old, and she hadn’t even trusted Jesus as her Savior yet! (Remember, I’m a preacher’s kid.) I couldn’t bear the thought of her not going to Heaven. So I sang a song to her I’d heard the Stamps-Baxter quartet sing on the radio. My voice quivered with emotion as I earnestly sang,
Oh, my loving sister, when the world’s on fire,
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow?
Hide me over in the Rock of Ages,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me.
(I sang fire as two syllables, fi-yer.) Of course Jessie didn’t want to be in a world on fi-yer, and she did want “God’s bosom to be her pillow,” whatever that might mean! So Jessie trusted Jesus that day. And no matter how imperfect my own understanding of God’s grace was or my inability to explain it well, she did become a child of God. Luke 18:15-17 says, “Mothers . . . brought infants to Jesus that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ ” So Jessie did receive Christ as her Savior.
On her sixth birthday, Daddy took Jessie into his study, and gave her a strong Bible foundation for assurance of her salvation. She lived confidently with that quiet conviction for the rest of her long and incredibly useful life.
Jesus tells us plainly, in John’s Gospel 5:24:
Most assuredly, I say to you,
he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me
has everlasting life,
and shall not come into judgment,
but has passed from death into life.
So I grieve her loss, yes, but with the sweet assurance that we’ll meet again soon, in the presence of the dear Lord Jesus Himself. And you may also have that same blessed assurance because of God’s promise that, if you trust Him, you will receive eternal life that you cannot lose.