Keeping the Tense Present

26 07 2010

In class the other day, my students were sharing prayer requests.  One student asked for prayer concerning his grandmother who had lost her husband a few years previously.  In the course of our discussion I asked the student if his grandmother was a believer.  “Yes,” he said.  “And your grandfather, what about him?” I asked.  “Yes, he was a believer, too.”  He paused for a moment.  “Well,” he continued, “I mean he is a believer.  I guess he’s still a believer.”  He seemed a little uncomfortable and there was some nervous laughter around the room from the other students who did not know whether or not he was making a joke.

“You said that well,” I answered to him.  “I think that we as believers need to be very careful how we talk of the believing dead.  We always speak of them in the past tense, as if they don’t exist anymore.  They do still exist, and probably moreso than we do at this time.  We need to think carefully about what we believe about life, death, and the future, and we need to make sure that the way we speak is consistent with what we believe.”


And then May came . . .

27 05 2009

Since last May 7, we have been looking ahead to this May with a bit of dread.  We heard pretty early on from others who had lost children that the first year is the most difficult because you are passing through all of life’s markers without your child for the first time.  Each holiday or event is another reminder that your family is three and not four.  The first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first birthday.  And then comes the first anniversary of the death of the child.  “Does it get better after the first year?”  we would ask those who were giving us their insights.  “Oh no.  It will always be painful, but you get better at living with that pain and loss after you have two or three birthdays under your belt.”  Others tell us that the bitterness and pain fades over time and is replaced by good memories of the loved one.  Bless them.  I am not there yet.  I don’t mean the good memories, they are always there.  But even the good memories–and perhaps mostly the good memories–bring pain.

This May was not the May we anticipated, however.  The brief illness and passing of my mother deflected much of our attention from Anna.  On the other hand, the passing of my mother brought the anniversary of the death of Anna into sharp focus for us.  It forced us to think about Anna’s death not as an isolated event, or something that touched only us.  Instead we learned more about Anna’s death by watching and experiencing the death of my mother.  The two events were so different and yet the same ultimate reality lay beneath the two.  Life here is not permanent.  It may be measured in months, years, or decades, but make no mistake, it is measured.  And that measure will come to an end.

In Anna, we saw a young girl who, although she had no conscious idea that her bicycle ride that Wednesday afternoon would be her last moment here on earth, nonetheless had an awareness and knowledge of the issues of life and death.  She spoke often of death, not in morbid terms though with a touch of fear, and she knew that death was gain for the one who is counted as a child of God.

In my mother, we saw an old woman, full of years, but still loving life and active.  We saw a woman who was given news about her cancer and received it as good news that her time here was over and she would soon be with the Lord.  My family may disagree with this, I don’t know, but it seemed to me that my mom gave a kind of half-hearted fight to beat the cancer.  I think she was doing it for our sakes.  She may have felt a bit like Lazarus being called from the grave.  “You mean I have to die a second time, Lord?”  I think she was ready to face death.  My mom’s life was not always the easiest.  She grew up in a very poor family in Missouri during the depression.  I think her poverty and “show me” Missouri mentality gave her a seriousness and a sense of acceptance about life that served her well in those last days.

We passed through last November and December and celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas without Anna.  We looked ahead to her birthday in March and then to May 7.  But before we got to either of those we received the news of my mom.  So March and April we all rightly turned our gaze to my mother as we helped her to navigate those last weeks in and out of the hospital.  And then May came and five days before the day of Anna’s passing my mother went to join her.  And two days after the day of Anna’s passing we were in church again remembering my mother.  In between those two days we had a moment to catch our breath and think about the events of the past year.

I don’t know what the next year holds.  In fact, that very question has been troubling us for some time now.  But the word of God is true.  And as I look back on this past year, which has seen such turmoil and disruption, I can only think of the words of God to Israel through the prophet Joel, “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.  I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.”  Anna resurget.  Maranatha.

Deloris Borger, Feb. 13, 1929-May 2, 2009

5 05 2009

Deloris Joyce Borger, 80, of Riverbank passed away quietly at home on the evening of Saturday, May 2, 2009.  She had fought a brief bout with cancer.  Although death claimed victory in this battle, the final victory has already been won by the Lord.  Deloris is in the presence of her Lord now.  She is awaiting, along with the rest of the saints, her final resurrection at Jesus’ second coming.  She is a member of Orangeburg Avenue Baptist Church of Modesto, CA.

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Richard Borger, along with three sons and their wives, Richard and Dianna Borger of Modesto, David and Patricia Borger of St. Charles, IL, and Todd and Timberley Borger of Louisville, KY.  She is also survived by grandchildren and step-grandchildren Krislynne Wallace of Modesto; Emily, Michael, and Nicholas Borger of St. Charles, IL; and Samuel Borger of Louisville, KY.  She is survived by her sister Alice West of Santa Clarita, CA.  She was preceded in death by her brother, James Neblett, and sister, Leola Wymer.  She was also preceded in death by her granddaughter, Anna Borger.

Deloris was born in Joplin, MO and graduated from Joplin High School in 1947.  She married Richard Borger in 1952 and moved with him to his home state of California where they spent the rest of their lives.  They lived in Southern California where their three sons were born until 1971, when they moved to the San Francisco area.  From 1973 until 2005 they lived in Half Moon Bay, CA.  They then moved to their final home together in Riverbank, CA.  Deloris worked in several jobs during her life, but she spent the most time as an employee of the Cabrillo Unified School District in Half Moon Bay, CA.

Deloris is greatly loved by her family and friends and will be missed.  She was kind and loving.  She was part of a quilting group that made quilts for cancer patients.  Special quilts were frequent Christimas gifts to children and grandchildren.  Richard and Deloris shared many things together, but they especially loved traveling.  Together they visited all 50 states.  They rode by motorcycle to Canada.  They traveled by RV to Alaska.  They traveled to Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia.  Their favorite vacation place was Hawaii.

Deloris will most be remembered as a woman who loved her family, took care of her husband, and raised three good sons.  She will be remembered as a loving and caring grandmother who was always ready to play another game with the grandchildren.  She will be remembered as a faithful and dependable woman.  She will also be remembered as adventurous and spontaneous.  We love you, Deloris.  We love you, Mom.  We love you, Grandma.

A memorial service will be held at Orangeburg Avenue Baptist Church, 313 East Orangeburg Avenue, Modesto, CA 95350, Phone: (209) 577-2575.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the church in memory of Deloris.  Donations made to Orangeburg Baptist will be given to the International Mission Board to support Southern Baptist mission work overseas.  Also, a fund was established last year by Western Hills Church, San Mateo, CA, in memory of our sweet Anna who died on May 7, 2008.  This fund was established with the intent of installing an exterior baptistery so that baptisms would become a witness to the community.  The family has decided to rename this fund the Anna & Deloris Borger Make Christ Known Baptistery Fund in honor of both of their memories.  Donations made to this fund may be sent to the the following address:

Western Hills Church, 3399 CSM Drive,San Mateo, CA 94402, Phone: (650) 574-4881

Grandma Deloris, Feb. 13, 1929-May 2, 2009

2 05 2009


I received a phone call about 30 minutes ago that my mother, Deloris Borger, passed away quietly at her home.  She had a very short bout with cancer.  Death has claimed another victim, but our Lord has defeated death.  My mother loved the Lord and is with him now.  Perhaps Anna was there to open the door for her and show her around.