This story is continued from A Moonlit Memory, Part II. In part III of A Moonlit Memory writer, speaker and Bible teacher, Ellie Lofaro, continues sharing her memory of a special moonlit night spent with a friend of God.

We moved back into the cabin and sat in a cozy living room. The glass door to the balcony was left open and the sounds of the ship cutting through the sea provided a soothing backdrop to our conversation. Barbara asked about us. She took a sincere interest in my new book and Kathy’s new role as a keynote speaker. When we attempted to be inquisitive about her illustrious career, she promptly  deflected any kudos. She insisted she was not a great writer and explained that her bestseller was put together by the publisher after they forced her to mail in her speaking tapes. She laughed out loud about being a panelist at an upcoming writer’s conference.

Then Barbara leaned forward and talked about heaven. She spoke of the glorious reunion with her two precious sons and she shared that her husband has instructed her not to cancel her appearance at a Women of Faith Conference if he “passes” first. She told us she planned to be gone before long and was quite peaceful about the prospect of “going home.” She leaned a bit closer and whispered her belief that if people really understood heaven, they would lose all fear of death.

A hush fell upon the room and I was reminded of my whereabouts.  Kathy and Barbara continued to talk and my thoughts continued to drift.  I had gone on the cruise anticipating the long walks on the beach, the sun drenched days and the starry nights. I was anxious to catch up on my reading, to nap by the pool and to lose all sense of time. It would also be a week when I had hoped to encounter the Lord in new ways. I wanted to see Him in all the beauty of my surroundings and feel His presence in the deep rest that awaited me.

Little did I know that my sweetest encounter with Christ on that cruise ship would be through a 73-year-old woman who had weathered many storms. It was obvious to me that her loss had produced abundance. Her pain had resulted in compassion.  Her desperate need to make sense of death led her to the cross—and there she found a resurrected life. She has gracefully poured it out and on that remarkable moonlit night–I was so happy to soak it in. I had spent an evening with a friend of God.

Postscript:   Several months after the cruise, Barbara was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery and chemotherapy and radiation and countless medications all followed. She passed into eternity on July 2, 2007. In the midst of her fiercest battle, she blessed us with yet another book, Plant a Geranium in Your Cranium. Barbara Johnson brought hope and healing to others in the midst of her own pain and suffering. She chose to use a hospital bed as a platform. She chose to continue to focus on other people’s hurts instead of her own. Barbara Johnson chose life. Fruitful…abundant…eternal.