Thursday, April 14, 2016

RIP - For the Soul Who Lives

April 14, 2016 marked the first decade since my dad's departure. The year he passed away Good Friday fell on the 14th. My mother lamented it marked the 46th anniversary of their first date. "He had to work hard to persuade me to go. I was a good Catholic girl back then. I told him I couldn't go because it was Good Friday. "Every Friday's a good Friday for a party!" he told me." Ironically that Good Friday fell on April 15th. It really was the 46th anniversary of their first date!

The past three weeks had been a roller-coaster of hospital stays and medical procedures for my dad. This meant that my already busy life as a pastors wife the weeks before Easter had the added stress of visiting my dad and concern for his health. Those of you who have experienced having a loved one in the hospital for extended periods know exactly how stressful it can be. We flew our oldest daughter home in case this would be her last visit with Grandpa. It was.

She and I spent the afternoon with him while my middle daughter took my mom for a much needed breather. While they ate a meal together in the hospital cafeteria, Rachel and I sang hymns to my dad. He had been hallucinating so bad that the doctor had him sedated.  We hoped the songs would touch his soul, calm him, and most of all turn his heart to the Savior he had rejected for so long. In fervent, silent intercession I pleaded with God for his soul. I begged to sing hymns he would know the words to. My insight to how God partially answered that prayer came the next day.

That evening towards the end of the Good Friday service, my aunt and uncle came in. I quietly headed over to them, then we three headed for the door. My dad was dying. After the service my husband and the kids joined me. We were all together around his bed holding hands, weeping. My mom (she is not a follower of Christ) gave him permission to go, to let go of the pain of this life but what pain would he find on the other side? Eternity is long and hell is far more painful than anything this life throws our way.

I love to hear the testimonies of those who diligently pray for years for their unsaved parents and their parents finally come to Christ. I praise God with them for the mercy and kindness of God. That is not my testimony. My testimony praises God in the painful doubt. My hope in God's mercy will not be fully realized until I too pass away. Then I will either find my dad made a death bed plea for forgiveness or Jesus will wipe my tears away. I found myself with Abraham that night in Genesis chapter 25. Where after fervent intercession for his nephew Lot he stands on the hill and sees the destruction of Sodom. There is no Biblical evidence he ever saw Lot again. So there I sat testifying with Abraham, "Shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right?" (Genesis 25:18).

The next day my uncle and I took on the hard task of telling my grandmother that her son had died. Shock held off tears. She couldn't believe her 67 year old son had died before her. We began planning a family memorial. My dad did not want a funeral but as a family we chose to have a family dinner and celebrate his life together the next day, Easter. When I asked my grandma if she had a request for a song that my girls could sing she chose In the Garden. "We sang that at Max's funeral," she told us. Max my grandpa died when I was a teen. Only my dad got to go since we lived on the opposite side of the country. The last song Rachel and I had sung for my dad was In the Garden and the last time he heard it before the day of his death was at his own father's funeral. Yes, God is merciful. He gave Rachel and I just the right song to sing to my dad. Did my father repent upon hearing it? I can only hope but this I do know God's mercy endures forever!

Let's remember God is love and the fact that any are saved is evidence of that. You see no one deserves to go to heaven. So in that reality my soul shall rest in peace.