Letters to Bev - One Couple's Journey Through the Valley - Hope 103.2

Letters to Bev – One Couple’s Journey Through the Valley

Married for 50 years, Mike and Bev had shared everything. Raising a family. Their call to ministry in rural and city congregations. Mike's diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in 2000 and Bev's of Motor Neurone Disease three years later. Knowing what lay ahead they were determined to continue sharing every aspect of their remaining time together with full honesty.

By Stephen O'DohertySaturday 16 Jun 2018Open House InterviewsChristian LivingReading Time: 4 minutes

Listen: Stephen O’Doherty in conversation with Mike Robinson

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid, because you are with me”. Their faith in God, their incredible love for each other and these words of David (Psalm 23) were constant companions as Mike and Beverley Robinson faced Bev’s diagnosis of a degenerative disease.

Married for 50 years, Mike and Bev had shared everything. Raising a family. Bev’s career as a registered nurse. Their call to ministry, with mike pastoring rural and city congregations. Mike’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2000 and Bev’s of Motor Neurone Disease three years later.

Knowing what lay ahead they were determined to continue sharing every aspect of their remaining time together with full honesty.

“We decided there could be great value if we kept a journal of our encounter with this unrelenting disease” wrote Mike. It is one of their first journal entries. Originally for themselves, then for their children, the scope of this journal would grow. At the urging of friends, Mike and Bev wonderfully started a website on which they would share their journal.

When Bev passed away in 2015 Mike continued to write Letters to Bev.

Hello my love. You and I walked this journey together until the last few hours when you walked without me. (Letter 3)

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I miss you so much. My love for you grows stronger, not weaker. That sense of your absence grows stronger, not weaker. I know in my head that you will not be coming back but I am  learning that it takes time for my heart to catch up with my head. (Letter 13).

I was thinking about this verse today. “… set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. Think abut the things of heaven, not the things of  earth” (Colossians 3:1-2 NLT). It occurred to me that I’ve been living that invitation in reverse. I set my sights on the realities of earth, I think about the things of earth, not the things of heaven. And now you are there, my questions have become more urgent, more important. (Letter 43)

Once more at the urging of friends the journal entries and Mike’s ongoing letters to Bev have been published. Our Journey Through the Valley is the result.

A conversation with Mike

As I sat down to speak with Mike about his journey through the valley with Bev it struck me that we do not talk enough with those we love about end of life issues.

Our Christian faith provides answers to the really big questions and yet they remain hard to talk about.

Is it because we, despite our faith, also have questions and doubts? Is it because our faith tells us we can rejoice, (death has no power over God’s people because of Christ!), and yet the pain of loss is searing.

Yes, and yes.

It is good to be honest about these things, with ourselves, with God and with those around us.

Mike Robinson has many questions, such as where is Bev now? and what’s Bev doing now?

“I know what she won’t be doing,” he told me with a glint in his eye that Bev had insisted “if I’ve got to go and sing Blessed Assurance forever I’m not going”.

“I think she’ll be lost in wonder, love and praise. I can’t picture that, I wish I could. I don’t know what it is we’ll be doing and how well be doing it.”

Scripture teaches that we will have new bodies. “We await with anticipation for … we don’t know what it looks like,” he said.

So is he sure, I ask? “Are you sure heaven is our destination? Are you sure that Bev is with God now?”

“The answer is yes, but it’s qualified. I don’t know how all the pieces fit together. All I’ve got is a selection of pieces. Yes, I’ve asked the question ‘where is she now?’ My perception of heaven is that it is not something up there.”

Mike currently thinks of heaven as a sort of parallel reality. “To me, heaven is all around us and every so often something heavenly breaks into the natural realm. There are umpteen examples in scripture, such as Gabriel bringing the message to Mary”.

Mike believes he saw such a breakthrough moment through Bev. “I saw it in her attitude to what was happening in her body. She said to me on a number of occasions I can’t keep doing this. But she did. And that’s what makes a woman of faith.

“I think I saw a prelude. I think I saw enough evidence in her attitude that made me realise that we’re in touch with something that is very real here”.

Mike takes inspiration from others who, like Bev, have faced dire circumstances with dignity. “You would expect them to be very negative. How can they say Jesus is Lord?

Three years after the loss of his life companion, eight years after her diagnosis and eighteen years since his own diagnosis of Parkinson’s, it is a question i put to Mike.

“You say Jesus is Lord,’ I remark, and he readily agrees. “How can you be sure?” I ask.

“Because he claimed it,” he replies without hesitation, “and I’ve made the conscious decision that I am going to base everything on that truth”.

To hear my full conversation with Mike click the red play button at the top of the page. Subscribe to Open House podcasts in iTunes.


The website Mike and Bev started, the Barnabas Network, is still operational. It contains ministry and discipleship resources and details of how to purchase a copy of Our Journey Through the Valley.