My heart breaks to tell you this.
A little while ago this evening, I spoke with Paula, Pastor Heckert’s daughter. She participated in a conference call earlier this tonight with Pastor Heckert, her mom, her brothers, and the oncologists. The cancer is spreading rapidly and is bearing down aggressively—so aggressively, in fact, that they’re fearing the end of the fight may be much closer than previously determined. In the doctors’ words, our dear friend and pastor is looking at about three to six weeks of mortal life.
Overall, Pastor Heckert has experienced little pain. I believe this to be a blessing of the Lord in that it has allowed him to continue to preach the Gospel—his life and love as a man of God. However, the newest cancer in his shoulder is causing painful trouble, and I know from the trip he took to the ER last week that the new cancer in his hip is, too. It was recommended that he receive radiation to help relieve the pain in his shoulder. Nevertheless, the oncologists have given very little room for thinking that there is anything else that can be done, and with that, they’ve recommended hospice.
I love Pastor Heckert. And I know you do, too. He tried to give me books from his library a few weeks back, and I told him plainly, “I don’t want your books. I want you.” I suppose when I said that, I was feeling the insecurity of what it means to hold onto this life—and in a sense, I was displaying it. He, of course, hugged me and told me of Jesus, his Savior, and he beamed the peace that he has in the only One who can rescue any and all of us from the terrors of this world. I went home with a few books in a box and a gladdened heart at having had spent the time with a faithful friend.
I suppose I’ll simply say that even as the days grow shorter in our stride with friends in this life, our inheritance is beyond this mortal coil, and it rests fully in the One who stopped Death in its tracks. In fact, this Sunday we’ll hear the story of Jesus raising the Widow of Nain’s son from death. I suppose it’s perfect timing for such a story. That’s the same Lord who reminds us that Death is an appropriate end-bringer to the emptiness of human hope. Christian hope is far different than human hope. Death has no footing in the realm of Christian hope. The cross stands above this world as the certification of such a truth.
Trust Jesus. And marvel at the faith in Him that’s been planted so firmly and so vividly by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel in our dear pastor and friend, Jakob Heckert.
I humbly ask you to keep the vigil for a peaceful visitation of the angels to carry him to the throne of grace at his last breath. It’s an all-consuming thought for me right now, and for that I’m glad. Christ before our eyes, in our hearts, and from our lips is always the best.