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Pilgrim's Guides


  Approaching the Final Transition
Part Three



Eternal Homecomings

Anticipatory Grief - The Gift of Tears
Anticipatory Grief - Saying Goodbye Ahead of Time
Making a good death

  Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  “Tears,” Spurgeon once declared, “are liquid prayer.” Sitting on a plane twelve years ago, returning from a ten-week sabbatical in America, I found myself engulfed in tears at the prospect of a particular person dying. As it turned out, he lived for well over another decade, but I knew that this “grief ahead of time” was the result of a heavenly prompting. There need be nothing morbid about such anticipatory grief: rather, it can be clean and purifying.

In the summer of 2005, our forty-two month sojourn on the Shetland Islands came to an abrupt end. There were two main reasons for this; the immense grief and pressure Ros was experiencing at work, and the fact that the Lord had told me through a variety of prophets that once the prayer conference I had been sent to organise had taken place, my time there would be complete.

A few weeks before we left, three thousand athletes made their way to the islands to participate in the Inter-Island Games. As we watched my friends in the table tennis team giving their all against players from around the world, I found myself dissolving repeatedly into floods of tears.

By the end of the week there were no more tears to shed, and I knew that my grief over leaving this unique phase of our lives in those amazing islands had been resolved. As a result, I was able to make the most of my remaining time on the island. It proved much harder for Ros, who had less opportunity to prepare herself for the transition. She loves the people of Shetland more than any other people-group or community we have ever been part of. She continued to fill up with tears for nearly two years every time she thought of the place and the people who meant so much to her.

Ros finally obtained release when Chris and Vicky Pemberton came round to pray for her. With a delightful combination of compassion and spiritual authority they set her free from the grief which had been locked up inside her for so long

Ros had left the islands “greeting” (which means “weeping” in the Shetland dialect). Six months after this time of prayer, we enjoyed a delightful return trip to Shetland, in which the Lord took Ros from “greeting” to a deep and welcoming “greeting”.

Reflect and Pray
Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll –
are they not in your record?
Psalm 56:8

Lord, if Your Spirit leads,
give us grace to grieve ahead of time
for people, places and opportunities
that will soon no longer be there –
not in faithless fear
but in the true love
which pillows our heart against Yours.
In Jesus name, Amen.



Anticipatory Grief - Saying Goodbye Ahead of Time
Well God, I'm in your hands.
I'll do everything I can,
and then all I can do is trust in You.
Alison Brown4 
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