Susan Margaret Iliff 25/11/1955 – 23/11/2015. Forever with The Lord.
The love of my life, Sue, died yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon. That is to starkly state the cold hard fact. Another fact however, is that Sue has gone to be with her Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ.
We were married for 32 years. We were best friends as well as husband and wife. We did everything together and pretty much went everywhere together. Even if I were nipping to the shops, she would say ‘hang on I’ll put my shoes (sometimes slippers) on and I’ll come with you’. That’s how it was. We loved each other deeply. What a blessed marriage we had. A true gift from God. Sue was the most wonderful person and a Godly wife.
I’m going to write about the process of my grief and other things I’ve learnt along the way. I’m doing it for two reasons. 1. It will be cathartic and a record. So it’s for me, to help me get through this horrible time. 2. I pray it will be of some benefit to others that might be going through a similar time. So it’s for others.
I’m not sure how far back I’ll go just yet, but I have made a few odd notes along the way since we were told the terminal diagnosis. I’ll leave it there for now.
Grief might do weird things to me. So if all the posts suddenly disappear I hope you will understand.
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready—God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say—
A few years ago I managed to attend the Aberystwyth Conference – it could have been 3 years on the trot. Each one was a real blessing. But in 1982 Andrew Davies was preaching for the 4 morning sessions through the book of Job. It’s one of those seasons of refreshing that I look back on with great thankfulness to God. I can’t recall hearing preaching like this before or since.
As a point of contrast, I am working my through the recent ‘Strange Fire’ conference audio, and whether it’s my English sensibility or not, I find it hard to stomach the applause speakers get at Strange Fire – and often in the US full stop. It really really grates on me. Maybe it’s an American thing, but I wish they would stop doing it. How can you applaud the speaker when it’s supposed to be a conference on worshiping God – kind of undermines it doesn’t it?
But anyway here’s the thing, hoping memory serves well, Andrew preached for well over an hour and you could have heard a pin drop, with a hushed reverence through the whole sermon. No applause – but maybe the occasional Amen from our Welsh brethren. I have never been in a series of services like it – it was as if time stood still and were sitting in the vestibule of heaven itself. The series could be summed up as a ‘Theology of Suffering’. At the time I believe Andrew’s Church had been through and was still going through illness, death and a number of other issues as he preached through Job to his congregation. The conference addresses were born out of these trials. The whole series is about the Triumph of Grace!
Not sure how long they have been available, but the sermons have been converted to MP3 files and can be downloaded for free. Click on each link below to download. Unfortunately the audio is not the best quality (The people at Grace do this sort of thing excellently), it’s ok, but I think the timeless quality of the preaching will more than compensate! Left click on each link to download.
Andrew was the first real preacher I heard after becoming a Christian in 1979. He was preaching my first time in a Church where The Bible was preached and actually believed. He has been a blessing to me over the years and has been a keen supporter of the History Lectures I help organise. All his lectures are well worth a listen (as well as lecturing for many years at London Theological Seminary). So granted, there is an element of nostalgia but not a little element of truth.