A Tribute to My Sister-in-Law

by | May 28, 2001 | Grief

“He showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

It was filled with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious gem, crystal clear like jasper. The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.

The wall of the city was built on foundation stones, inlaid with twelve gems. The gates were made of pearls, and the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Nothing evil will be allowed to enter – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Revelation 21:10-27 (NLT)

Bettie Dudley

It was a beautiful spring day in Arkansas. The flowers were blooming and the birds were chirping. I basked in the awesomeness of God’s beautiful world. Absorbed in the loveliness surrounding me, I began to pray for my husband who had 24 hours earlier touched the brow of his sister as she went to be with Jesus. I prayed for his mother who had given up a daughter and for the children and grandchildren who were grieving their loss. I knew the tears were near the surface as I would miss this loved one too.

And then as He so often does, God, in his soft gentle way spoke to my spirit. “Melva,” he said, “The beauty you are observing right now is nothing compared to what Bettie has enjoyed her first day in heaven.”

I looked around me and there were lovely houses in our cove. Bettie was seeing walls of jasper, built upon foundations of sapphire, emerald, and amethyst. A few doors down from us was a man-made lake where geese and swan were swimming on this gorgeous day. Bettie was seeing a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb.

I gazed across our pretty lawn with signs of new life springing up, but I knew Bettie was walking on streets of gold. The sun warmed my body but there was no need for sun or moon where Bettie is because the glory of God illuminates the city and the Lamb is its light.

I loved this dear lady who was a part of my family for nearly 50 years. Our personalities were quite different and yet we had a lot of in common. We both loved her brother, Jerry, who is also my husband. We both loved her mother who is also my mother-in-law. We both loved her younger sister, Euvila. Though separated by many earthly miles our kindred spirits always surfaced when we were together.

And then there are our grandchildren. We could not have a conversation without Bettie mentioning Dana, Micha, Heather, Holly, Karissa, Sheri, and her only grandson Colton. How she loved those kids. Some days her energy would be depleted, but she wanted to make one more ball game or spelling bee or piano recital.

But, the bond God gave me with her was prayer. Bettie was a prayer warrior. She just would not give up until God gave an answer. We have called one another at all hours of the day and night. From health problems to requests for our children and grandchildren to praising God for His goodness, she was always ready to pray with me or for me.

Several years ago when Bettie was very ill, I spent the night in the hospital with her. She suffered much all night. Early the next morning her oncologist made his daily visit. I can still remember his startling words as he calmly told me to call her family. She was in the last stages of lymphoma and there was nothing else he could do. Bending over to kiss her as I left the room she whispered in my ear, “Keep praying, keep praying.”

I left the hospital to call her children but also to call prayer teams around the nation who had already spent much time praying for her. I repeated to them what Bettie had said to me, “Keep praying, keep praying.” And they did. God answered her plea and our prayers, and gave her five more good years to live and to love on her family.

Bettie and I have spent many hours traveling together as we extended Jerry’s business meetings into long vacations. We have crossed the Sierra mountains when trees were vivid with the golds and oranges of fall. We have walked the beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the late evenings, loving the picturesque scene the sun gave us as it sank lower and lower on the horizon. We have climbed the sand dunes in New Mexico, marveling how only on a loving God that we love and serve could create such a diverse yet awesome universe.

Too soon it seemed, years were added on and our time on earth began to wind down. Our physical bodies slowed considerably. Bettie’s with cancer and mine with a severe degenerative disc disease. Yet for us, we found the slowing down physically gave us more time to pray, more time to spend in God’s Word and communing with Him in prayer. And that is what Bettie did. We talked about it often.

You knew her as my sister-in-law. I knew her as my sister in Jesus, bound together by the depths of our love for one another and for our precious Lord.

Today, there is an empty place in my heart and tears gather and fall gently down my face, but I would not call her back from that city of pure gold where there is no pain, no tears, and no sorrow.

Instead, I look forward to meeting my sister-in-law, Bettie Dudley, in that Holy City, Jerusalem, because our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

March 30, 2004

“For permission to republish this story please email the author for permission. Thank you.”

Melva Cooper jmelva@cox-internet.c


A Tribute to My Sister-in-Law