Key Things

Key Things

“She could die from suffocation.” My heart dropped.

My mother’s spine was slowly collapsing, disrupting the connection of brain to body. The parish nurse told me numerous scary results. I began to pray in earnest that she would not experience any of those frightening outcomes. “Please Lord, have mercy on her final days!” I pleaded. “Oh God, let her die peacefully in her sleep.”

You know…God listens.

He felt my troubled heart. While He cares deeply about the dying person, He also moves supernaturally to comfort those left behind.

Gold Key Necklace

The key was a looking glass into another world

So one day while praying, I had a brief vision: In my mind’s eye, I stood inside a planetarium with my mother. The space was dark, except for a spotlight, which shone down on her. She seemed radiant and serene. A golden key on a thin chain was draped around her neck. It gleamed in a mystical way.

Then I noticed something extraordinary. The circular loops at the top of the key had a sky-blue center. I lifted the key to take a closer look. The loops were actually tiny windows into different realm. And in that other place the sky stayed blue, though on earth it was dark. Just then, a panel in the domed ceiling opened, and through the slotted section I saw the starry night sky. The vision ended there.

A simple scene—a poignant message.

My mother had the key to heaven—her passage would be secure. The rounded ceiling of the planetarium symbolized her earthly life. The panel opened, signaling it was time for her to go. Perhaps she’d slip away at night. All was well. The dream laid a blanket of peace over me for the remaining months of her life.

But God didn’t stop there. He chose to repeat the message for emphasis.

Indeed God speaks once
 or twice…in a dream, or a vision…He opens the ears of men…Job 33:15

photo 1Not long after that vision, I received a book in the mail. My daughter’s close friend, Ali Smith, wrote a paperback on being single. She asked me to compose the Forward. As a courtesy, her publisher sent me a free copy. To my utter amazement, the book’s cover virtually had the same images as the vision.

But God wasn’t done yet!

She listened and acted on faith...

She listened and acted on faith…

Later that summer, my friend Lisa Pierson saw a bookmarker in a store while on vacation. For some strange reason, the Lord told her to buy it for me. She knew nothing about my vision or Ali’s book, but felt prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Do you feel those nudges? Do you shrug them off or pause and consider—hmm, could this be God?

Lisa responded and bought the bookmarker for me. Here is a picture of it. Now I ask you…was it odd or was it God?

In August 2009, I traveled to Cleveland to give my dad a break from the intensity of caregiving. When I arrived at my parent’s place (which I thought I knew backwards and forwards and upside down), for the first time I noticed a golden key ten times the size of the one in my vision. They used it as a paperweight on small table by the front door.

I examined the key and found two numbers on it: 50 and 12. Out of curiosity, I looked up Genesis 50:12. The verse tells about the sons of Israel laying to rest the body of their father, Jacob.

My mom died a few weeks later. And she slipped out at night, passing away peacefully in her sleep. I sat down and wept.

Tears of sorrow, because she was gone.

Tears of relief, because she did not suffer the scary possibilities of her disease.

Tears of joy, because God had answered my prayers exactly.

Tears of awe, because He showed me through a symbolic key that my mom would be okay.

And finally, the tears of feeling loved. God took away the trouble in my heart by telling me these things in advance–four times.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

May you come to know this God, and may He increase all the ways that He speaks to you in your world of divine happenstance.








  1. dear susan,
    thank you for your beautiful words about the death of your mother and your own journey. my mom passed away last july, and you are not alone in the feelings and hopes you had for your mom, dad and for your own aching heart. God will surely see you through, you will miss her every day. make the most of your time with your dear dad, who is suffering in his own way. he will take great comfort in your smile and enjoy stories of your shared times with your mom. God bless you, janet sharpe byler

    • Thank you Janet for your comforting words. I am also sorry to hear of your loss. Losing your parents is something you know will happen but you never feel ready. My friend Jenny said when you lose a parent–no matter how old you are–it sets you on a different road. I am blessed to have my father still and I treasure my times with him. Thank you again!

  2. Another impactful post, Susan! God is so good, loving, and personal! I especially appreciated the various aspects of your tears — and your intended paradoxical ending. Blessings, Marilyn

  3. Susan, such beautiful and touching thoughts. The Lord prepared me as well for my own mother’s death, though at the time I did not realize it. I always prayed she would pass away sitting in her chair or in her sleep. Mom was never ill but she did pass away in her sleep. I think she missed my dad too much and couldn’t bare to be without him any longer. That was six years ago. I don’t think the pain of losing one’s mother ever vanishes. Praying for your comfort.

  4. Wow! Your story encourages me to seek Him more proactively. Sometimes I get complacent and accept the ordinary without trusting God for the extraordinary. Thanks for sharing!!!!!