This is only the first entry I will make about my dad who passed away on September 26th of this year. There is so much to say, so much to write about him it will take the rest of my life to finish. But for today, I wanted to share a special moment he and my mom had just 11 days before he died.
Mom and dad have been followers of Jesus for decades. They had made it a daily practice to read the Bible and pray each morning before starting their busy schedule. But dad's illness had taken most of his energy and his mind was foggy. He had not been up to praying for more than a week so mom prayed for both of them as well as reading their daily passages from the Word.
On September 15th, mom asked dad if he wanted to pray and he said he did. This is what mom wrote in her journal and shared with us:
The morning of Saturday, September 15, 2012, I sat down with Jerry for a time with the Lord. Before he became so ill, he would always pray. He would prayer for all the family, for people who had special needs, our staff and guests, for ministers and ministries serving the Lord, for our nation, etc.
For the last month, I have prayed as he was struggling with physical needs and cloudy thinking.
Today I asked if he would like to pray and he said, “Yes”. He spoke of the peace that comes from knowing that he had completed the race, he had finished the course and that his journey was complete. He rejoiced in the health and good life that he had had, and for the support and love of family and friends. He mentioned the love and support that I had given him and the load that it had placed on me, and something about the love and care that was ahead for me.
When he finished talking, through my tears I asked him if he was going to be healed. He said, “Yes, I am going to be healed”. He repeated this several times. I tried hard to remember all that he said, as I felt that it was so important. His mind was clear and he spoke with such confidence and a sense of joy, even though he spoke slowly.
My sister, Lisa, my wife Marsha, mom and I sought the answer to dad's illness, in the medical community but more importantly in God's Word. I remember thinking I had come up with an answer, through my own reading or the teaching of another person. I felt like dad's time here wasn't over and he had so much more to do. But it wasn't to be and the sickness he suffered from caused his organs to fail, ending his life here, for now.
His words that morning were very hard to take. We thought, questioned at the time, "Was this a sign that he was to die, did dad know, was he giving up or was he at peace with what was ahead?" We tossed the ideas aside considering them "unbelief". I don't think we had much choice at the time. Isn't that what we Christians are supposed to stand on till the end--life?
Now looking back to those words dad spoke that morning, I think we can say he knew and was at peace. He was ready. He was worried about us though and he knew we were hurting. But he also knew that God would be our strength and we would learn and be stronger from this experience.
2 Timothy 4:5-8 Amplified Bible
6 For I am already about to be sacrificed [my life is about to be poured out as a drink offering]; the time of my [spirit’s] release [from the body] is at hand and I will soon go free.
7 I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.
8 [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).
What an incredible finish to a noble life. What a legacy he has left for us to pick up and run with.
Lord, let me be able to say this just before I pass and let me accomplish even more than my dad did for Your Kingdom. Then, let my kids and my grandkids do circles around us both!