Monday, August 10, 2009

An Incredible Gift From God--Saying Goodbye

Dad's Memorial Service

As a lot of you know, my dad suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. It was sudden, although we knew that he had cancer. I wanted to share with you a quick story of God's grace working in this situation.

First of all, when we found out that Dad had cancer, God arranged it so that I could see him. I was invited to return to the States for a Mission Conference in Virginia, so I booked three extra days and flew out to see Dad. It was a great trip...just hanging with him in his house. As a preparation for this trip, the Lord led me to write dad a five page tribute letter (I recommend you read the book, The Tribute) which he read in front of me. It was basically a letter saying that I loved him and was blessed to be his son. At the end of the three days, I told dad good-bye, and emphasized that this was the last time we would ever see each other before heaven (Dad accepted Christ in 2001). It was a huge cryfest. I cried so much that I could not even stop for a Krispy Kreme donut on the way to the airport...that should put things in perspective. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I took the time, and paid money we felt like we don't have much of, to go see Dad.

Then, this is how the events unfolded. Dad wasn't feeling well, so he went to the hospital. They took good care of him, and then said he could go home, but he didn't feel quiet ready to go. I called him on Monday night to see how he was doing...what I call a 'duty call'. You know what I mean. Looking back, it was so much the Holy Spirit. Dinner was already on the table, everyone was sitting down, and I suddenly told Denise, "I am going to check on Dad."

Well, after a few minutes of chatting, in which dad said he was going home on Tuesday (the next day) or was up to him, he said this out of the blue. "I know that I am a Christian now, but I am still afraid to die."

Wow. I spent the next five minutes just affirming his faith in Christ, reminding him of how Jesus paid for everything on Calvary, and that all his sins had been forgiven. I quoted the scripture to him of death losing its sting and of our certainity that we have eternal life. Then, as I wrapped up the conversation, I said this. "Dad, God loves you. I love you. And you can be absolutely certain that you are going to see mom in Heaven. Talk to you later."

Dad died a few hours later...his heart just stopped. No warning.

As I go over the memory of that trip to Texas, and then that last phone call and my VERY LAST words to my dad. I am amazed at the incredible gift that God gave me. An opportunity to say good-bye, and to encourage the heart of my father...and the absolute certainty that I will see him again.

God is so good to us.

By the way...some of you gave money (unsolicited) for us to go to my father's funeral. THANK YOU SO MUCH. (I am crying as I type this). God gave us another gift through you.

Man...God is good.



Jennifer T. said...

I'm so glad you had these chances to talk. It is so neat how God works out these special moments!

Just yesterday, I was marveling and thanking God again for the very special moments He gave me with both our babies literally hours before calling them home. Those are some of my most precious memories out of thousands...

Becky said...

God is so faithful.

dozenhalls said...

WOW! tears in my eyes as I read your words. Great reminders to spend time doing what is eternally important instead of the busyness of life. LOVE your words! Still pastoring me a thousand miles away :) Thanks, Joe, for sharing!