Sixteen years ago this morning, my father went to be with the Lord. Dad accepted the Lord as his Savior late in life. He was a sick man the last few years of his life. Surgery after surgery. Yet, God brought him home to us time after time. Mercy upon mercy was, has been and is bestowed upon my family.
A year or so before one of his last surgeries, I had miscarried at six weeks. Dad was in the hospital as I was coming out of the hospital. I went to see him and with tears in his eyes, he simply said, “Babe, I’m sorry about your mishap.” I told him it was ok, that I trusted God’s will. If He saw best not to let be a mother, it was ok and that God was still a good God.
My pastor at the time, a godly Mennonite man, the first preacher my father respected, went to my father and led him to the Lord the night before he was to have surgery. The next morning, my mother and all of us children went up to see my father before he was prepped for another surgery. We walked in and he was unusually calm. My mother asked if they had come in and given him his happy shot. He said no, he did not need one. Everyone looked at him with a sense of amazement. He had such peace. Not like all the other times. I knew what had happened, but they did not know yet. We kissed him and said we would see him soon. Only hoping that would be the case, because we did not know if he was coming home again.
All of us went outside and my mother began to talk about how peaceful he seemed, so different. It was then that I told them about the night before, that Dad had accepted Jesus. My mother, being the stoic parent, began to get tears in her eyes and she began to slightly tremble. There was a sense of awe among us all. It was a sovereign thing going on in our midst.
That surgery went well and Dad got to come home with us again. Once again, God had shown us His tender mercies. The doctors had put a new vein in his leg. Dad realized that someone died in order for him to have that. He told me he wanted to be able to thank the family of whoever it came from. That information was not given, so I asked the doctor if he could get word back to the family. He said he would.
After coming home, he had to be able to gain strength in that leg and while staying with him and my mother, I would take him out on the driveway and we would walk together. Him holding on to me. I choked back tears. I was thinking of the day long ago when I was learning to walk and holding onto him, but now, he was holding on to me. The two of us walking, yet, I felt another Presence walking with us: God. It was a very precious time.
The last year of his life, he began going to Church a few times by himself. I went with him once and even though it was not a Church I would join or actually be a part of: the Church of Christ, I had such joy in us sitting together listening to the Word of God with my father. with a subtle excitement he told people, “This is my daughter, she came to Church with me this morning!” I don’t know which of us were more radiant. My father or me. As I was just as excited as he.
See, when I first came to Jesus at the age of 19, for some odd reason my father was hostile of the fact of me becoming a Christian. so much so, that Saturday nights were unbearable at home, and I would call up my friend who prayed me into the Kingdom of Light to pick me up just do I could go somewhere and sleep in peace in order to go to Church the next day. I think his hostility had something to do with how Church people treated his mother when he lost his dad at the age of 6. Church people had stolen farm tools from her and not given them back. When my father would say, “Mom, so n so, has our (whatever),” his mother, a godly woman would say, “Son, if they can live with it, I can live without it.” Her way of forgiveness. Dad didn’t see it that way and he had all kinds of names for them!
Dad was not a man who read very much. He was a hard – working man who worked using his hands all of his life. When he wasn’t at the factory, he was at home, upholstering as a second job. But later in life as he got sick, he would pick up the Bible. His eyes would lay upon something within the word of God and with tears in his eyes, he would say, “I’m trying to understand what this means.” So, he and I would have our own little Bible studies together. It was a joy to discuss the things of God with him!
He went into the hospital in the month of November 1997. I had been home with him and Mom. He was having an awful time breathing. I was putting pillows behind him in hope of helping him. I called Hospice, who was involved by now. They said nothing could be done. I told my mother that was bull and I wasn’t going to watch him smother to death while his lungs filled up with fluid. I called an ambulance. Before the ambulance got there, my father, barely able to breath asked me, “Is God punishing me?” I said, “No Dad, he is not punishing you. Your body is wearing out, just like your mother’s did before you and just like mine will one day. God just wants to know this from you: Can you still say He is good? Can you still say you love Him?” “Yes,” he gasped. I said, “That’s all that matters right now, Dad.” I went on to encourage him while waiting for the ambulance.
That particular time at the hospital, he told me he was going to miss his grandchildren when he left this earth. I told him he would still have a grand baby when he left this world. He said, “I will?” I said, “Yes, the one I lost.” His eyes twinkled and he said, “I guess I will, won’t I?” With genuine sorrow, Dad had told me if he could go back, he would have done a lot of things differently. I told him, we all could say that. The important thing is having God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, which my father had.
The very last time he was at the hospital, he asked me, “Babe, how many more days until Christmas?” I said “Eleven, Dad.” He got excited and with a big smile on his face, he pointed upwards and said, “I’m gonna be in my new home soon.” I said, “Yes, Dad. God has prepared a new home for you.”
He went home one last time. I stayed with him and my mother for a while. At some point Hospice came out and showed me how to flush his veins out and do whatever needed to be done. But the next morning, I was not able to do it. His veins had collapsed. I went home to get some rest and my brother calls me later to tell me Hospice said Dad would not make it through the night. It was no surprise but still, I wasn’t ready to lose him. I became very emotional after hanging up and told my husband I didn’t know what to do. He simply asked, “Is there anything left unsaid that you would like to say to your dad?” I told him no. God have given us many private times alone together and we both were able to share so much in such a short time.
It now being 16 years to the day my father passed away, I wanted to share his testimony. I also want to share this particular song. Another time when he was in the hospital after having triple by-pass done on his heart, he had a stroke on the operating table. He could not walk or communicate or even feed himself. I bought a little radio and took it to the hospital with me while I sat with him, hoping music would help bring him out of the stroke. This song came on and my father all of a sudden in a very weak voice starting singing the chorus. I jumped up and ran to him, seeing tears in his eyes. I asked him, “Do you remember this song, Dad?” He nodded yes. It was the song he and I would play together on our guitars. Some things stay with you forever and this is one of mine.