God’s gifts through the most pressing times.
You know, He is everywhere. He hears and sees it all. You may know this, but have you experienced it lately? Lived it? Breathed it?
Two years ago, on a Friday morning my mother called me in a panic because she thought my father’s health was failing fast. She hung up to dial 911. A few minutes later she called wailing, “He’s not breathing, He’s not breathing!” I dropped to my knees screaming, “No, mommy, no! Please God no!” Which of course brought every child running.
I instructed Daly Kay to throw everyone under 5 years old in a crib and set a big girl over each one. David was a few minutes away by car. I ran out the door in my pajamas and raced to my mother’s. I don’t even remember the drive.
As I pulled up into the neighbors yard, I saw the fire department loading him into an ambulance. A machine pumping his body, his hands cuffed and braced, I only had time to run across the street and grab his toes and yell, “I love you Daddy!”
My mother was falling apart. I rejoiced that he was tenuously hanging on to life.
Driving her to the hospital was agonizing. Her broken heart and fears were encompassing her small frame. I had to put my own emotions far from me. Difficult, but possible through the minute by minute strength the Lord was giving me. When we arrived, they led us to a small room and asked us to wait.
Finally a nurse visited us to tell us it was not looking good, but he was still among the living.
The next 48 hours, the Lord showed himself precious and near to me in ways that without this experience, I don’t think I could understand.
This is a parenting blog, but this story applies because:
1 – It is about MY parent(s).
2 – Many times as parents, we go through rough times and if you don’t read through testimonies of His faithfulness, maybe you will be so blinded by emotion when your time comes that you will miss all the Lord is teaching you through a heartache or tragedy.
First came the opportunity to just clear the air. My first few minutes in the ER with Dad alone resolved 90% of my anxiety. Things definitely did not look good, or even hopeful, but I got to say what needed sayin’. Uninterrupted. Without fear. I also told him not to die without me by his side. Sounds strange now, but it was the desire of my heart that if he was gonna pass from this life to the next, I wanted to be there. Immediately, I knew that my request, my prayer – had been heard and would be honored.
Over the next 48 hours that followed, I was afforded so many wonderful opportunities to love on and serve my father that in our life together…well…never really happened.
My Daddy was a marine.
More than a little scary.
And so, I never really got to love on him the way I might have wanted to. But while he was in the ICU, on a ventilator and full of coma inducing sedative drugs, I was free to touch him, kiss on his cheeks, hold his hands. I could rub his feet, wash his hair, and rub his shoulders. I tried to squeeze in almost 40 years of affection in 48 hours. I think if he would’ve been able to say something, it might have been, “GET OFF ME!”
Next, my father wasn’t really a church-goer.
He walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
He came to my church a couple of times when the kids were in singing programs or something, but it’s not like we sat next to each other every Sunday and wrote notes back and forth or doodled (my father was a great cartoonist!) while the sermon went long, ya know? So Saturday night, at 5:00pm, I got one of the greatest gifts the Lord has ever given me….
On Saturdays my family gathers around the television to watch Elevation Church’s broadcast on their website. We LOVE and attend our same church of Calvary Chapel in Jupiter for over 15 years now…but this service with Elevation is yet another opportunity for learning and growth that we have been enjoying as a family together.
I hurried back from a quick meal break so that by 5pm, I would have my ipad all set up to enjoy church with Daddy.
In the ICU he had two nurses that day. I am pretty sure they both thought I was nuts.
“Well, you old codger, you ready for church tonight?” I asked…knowing he was unable to answer did not stop me from having many one sided conversations.
As the countdown to service time wound down, I scooted my chair next to his bed and held his hand.
Worship was amazing.
Songs that said
“I will rise…I will rise…As Christ was raised to Life…
Now in him, now in Him, I live…..”
I held his hand and noticed for the first time in my life that his fingernails had a curved feeling….except on his ring finger where it was slightly flat on top.
Hands of a loved one are something we often times take for granted until we realize it won’t be long before we will not have them to hold ever again.
I sang with my eyes closed standing next to his bed, holding his right hand, and envisioned Jesus holding his left. Angels were singing in the room with us, I just knew it. The sadness flew away and utter joy such as I have NEVER EXPERIENCED flooded my soul. I wasn’t even aware my mother had entered the room. I have no idea how long she watched us, but when she finally touched my shoulder as I sang with one arm raised and tear streamed cheeks, she was visibly moved.
“Thank you,” was all she could say.
I felt as though he and I had entered the throne room of grace together, encircled by angels, lifted in a peace that passes all understanding. The last two days of his life showed me how very near the Lord is in times of trouble, and how He longs to give his beloved children the most amazing gifts even in their darkest hours.
When Sunday morning came, it was obvious the damage from the lack of oxygen Friday morning had been too great for him to ever recover. I had a few moments to talk with him and told him it was time to go. My sister arrived shortly, and even as I explained Daddy’s condition, his heart stopped. For the next hour, he tenuously hung on to life, waiting for his bride of more than 40 years to come to his side. As he passed into eternity, myself, my mother, my sister, and her husband were all at his side. So many precious gifts that last hour, so many sweet words I got to whisper…and as Daddy passed from this life into eternity I whispered in his ear, “I love you and I am gonna make you proud, Daddy. You’re gonna have front row seats to the most amazing things the Lord will do through our family and my children. You’re leaving behind a legacy that will set this world on fire. Rest in peace…we got it from here….” I then sang him the last refrain of the Marine Corps Anthem:
“If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.”
Semper Fi, Daddy.
I write this to tell you, there is One who is closer than a brother through any adversity. There is One who longs to give you the desires of your heart, even if it be in the last few hours of a loved one’s life. You can have peace that passes understanding, and joy in the most heartbreaking situations. Look for gifts of love from your Heavenly Father when your heart is broken and your spirit contrite. Those last 48 hours were absolutely peppered with His presence, His Spirit, and His loving embraces.
Expect Him to be near to you when your heart is breaking. Expect Him to flood you with peace and STRENGTH to walk through those times. And teach your children as you walk through it, so they will know Who to call on when they have to walk through such difficulty.
And thank you Lord, for being the strength, the joy, even in the midst of it all. Only You. Thank you.