Words From Our Hearts.......
ONE MAN’S JOURNEY THORUGH LOVE, GRACE, HOPE AND FAITH.
By: Frank J. Lombardo
Shortly before the death of my sister, Angela, she wrote a message to her friends and family, saying, “My soul belongs to God. It is full of love, grace, meekness, purity, kindness, loyalty and joy. The journey was and is great, but the next step is the greatest one. These are things I've experienced.”
Hours before her passing in a hospital room, surrounded by friends and family, and unable to speak due to an oxygen mask ~ she wrote a note about her good friend, Mary. The note said, “I want to Love like Mary”. Hours before her death, my sister was still yearning to improve on her ability to love.
As a result of the loss of my sister, Angela, a good friend told me that I was on a journey. When I asked, “what journey?” ~ he told me it would become obvious to me. Preparing to give the eulogy at my sister’s wake, I realized that the journey began with “Love.” It was love I felt whenever I thought about losing my sister. I felt an ache in my heart; but I also felt her watching over me; and that she was sending me a sign that I needed to better understand Love.
We all have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. Love is one of our basic and fundamental needs. So my journey started in understanding Love, the giving and receiving love, the acceptance of love, and, as my sister would say, “God’s Love”. My first step was understanding that if you do not have an assurance of God’s Love, your faith journey will not last long. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “There are three things that last forever, Faith, Hope and Love; but the greatest of these is Love.”
But Who should I love first? The Bible teaches us that the greatest commandment is to “Love God with your whole heart. It was important for me to understand and accept that God’s Love is unconditional, unending, and unmistakable. We are God’s Beloved. The gospel of John says that God is Love.
The Bible says to, “Love thy Neighbor as thyself.” I went back to examine my past relationships and why they did not last. The answer was very simple. I did not understand how to give or receive Love. I learned that I was unable to commit my Love to them or accept their Love for me because I had not first learned to love myself.
I felt that my journey needed to continue. For guidance, I turned to my sister’s social medial pages where she talked about “Grace.” She wrote, “when you're at a loss and you don't know how to feel and which way to go, just head towards the light. Approach it with Grace. And, when you live your life with Grace there are no wrong turns.”
My journey brought me to accept and understand that every action of God towards us involves Grace. God’s creations, convictions, and gifts allow me to appreciate that God’s Grace is justice, holiness, and salvation. As Paul says in Ephesians, “It is by Grace that we are saved.”
I struggled to understand the statement of my sister, Angela, “to approach the light with Grace when you don’t know which way to go.” The apostle Paul instructs Timothy, “to be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus”. When we are at a loss and don’t know which way to go, we head, “towards the light with Grace.” Through the Love of God and Christ, we are strong and able to face our troubles with strength.
As I continued my journey, I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer that metastasized to my liver. As I sit every other weekend getting infusions of poisonous drugs and anticipating the horrible side effects to come ~ I sometimes think about giving up because I am losing hope. But nurses, doctors, friends, and family tell me they are praying for me, and that I am strong.
During my chemotherapy infusions, I started reading about Hope and the Healing by God. I read about Naaman who is healed of Leprosy; and King David who asks for forgiveness of his sins of adultery and the murder of Uriah. I read about the healing stories of Isiah, Jeremiah, Jesus and his followers. I read about Jesus’ healing of leprosy, blindness, deafness, and raising Lazarus from the dead. As a pattern starts to develop Jesus tells those he heals not to tell anyone of these healings. I began to understand that spiritual and physical healing is the result of faith. When two blind men asked Jesus to heal them; Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and they replied, “Yes, Lord.” “Then He touched their eyes saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were opened.” Their faith produced enormous power for great purpose.
The death of my sister, Angela, and my cancer taught me that God permits adversity in our lives so that we may go deeper with Him on our spiritual journey. Since my sister’s passing, I have become stronger through God’s Love, Grace, Hope, and Faith. It began with my sister’s message that I needed to first learn more about Love. My Faith in God has grown stronger as I continue my cancer treatment and other aspects of my life. I thank my sister, Angela, for placing me on this spiritual journey.