On the 26th April 2023 I received the following message from my friend, Pat Baxter…
‘Hi All, my news is not good in that I have advanced pancreatic cancer with 6 to 12 months to live. (Pat then goes on to explain treatments and ends with) Blessings to you all as you have me in prayer and thought. Love Pat.’
On the 3rd May 2023 Pat responded to a message I sent her…
‘I do know God’s Presence. It is a very serene and peaceful time in the midst of a raving cancer.’
I met Pat many years ago via Facebook, when she messaged me to ask whether I would co-author a book with her. We subsequently met many times to minister together, to write our book together and to have meals together.
We were planning two new books and were looking forward to writing them and sharing seafood platters.
Pat was my friend, my co-author and my mentor. Her legacy to me will last my lifetime. She was generous with her time and her friendship. She instilled in me a desire to emulate her patience, tact and kindness when facing challenging situations. Her compassion and empathy and deep desire to learn and understand about people, different cultures and faiths was all encompassing.
She was gentle but extremely honest. She always confronted me when she thought I had ‘missed the mark’, which was a bit off-putting, but I always ended up having to thank her, because without her honesty and guidance, I would have missed the mark completely. Her faith in the goodness of God was unwavering. She was brave and taught me how to die well.
Pat went home to God on the 21st June 2023.
She was completely focused on His goodness, on Him being her Shepherd and on rest. She wrote the following two days before receiving the news about the cancer.
She wrote about Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd. These are her words.
“David spent many hours as a Shepherd, tending the flock, guiding the sheep to green pastures and keeping themfrom danger. As he is looking after his sheep he reflects on his God and recognizes, that a Shepherd is a great wayto understand God: a God who leads and guides and keeps the flock from harm by providing helpful guidance.
I do believe, our God, as Shepherd, Leader and Guide gives us opportunities to be nurtured and not go into despair in troubled times.We need to ask ourselves now, if God is our nurturing one, how are we being guided out of dying situations to riseagain?
I do believe it would be helpful to read the psalm again and underline all the places that you can see our Lord as Shepherd in your life.
With a familiar Psalm, we can always be tempted to gloss over words because we know the Psalm so well.
On this re-reading of the text, the words that stood out for me are: He makes me lie down in green pastures…. makes me rest, makes me take time in the midst of everything to restore and be refreshed. Makes me….is a clear instruction. There are so many things to do in dying situations….and God strongly urges rest.
The Lord is My Shepherd: I concur with David. I am given hope and time to rest, be cared for to rise again: even in troubled times. I give thanks.”
I grieve with hope…