[This is part four of a multi-part story about my dad and the battle he underwent against Alzheimer's and against pneumonia. It is also a story of how God provides for us in our time of need in oh, SO many ways. I dedicate these blogs to both my mom and my dad . . . and to my amazing sister and brother. And also to anyone out there who has lost, or is loosing, a loved one]
"What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." - James 4:14
One of the last images I have of my dad was when we wheeled his bed out onto the deck at the hospice center. All of the units there have decks that overlook a pond, all nestled nicely in the woods. It is really a very peaceful place. Quite a beautiful setting.
My dad's feet pointed toward the pond - my brother stood on his left, my sister on his right. I was positioned behind the head of my dad's bed, propping up his pillow so he could see the water. As I did so I noticed a fog or a mist on the surface of the pond becoming visible. It gently moved across the water, being guided by the cool morning breeze. That's when I thought of that verse above. It is a fitting verse because, like all verses in the Bible, it is SO true. But for those of us who believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, the verse represents hope. The hope of a life after death.
If we take the time to read the Gospels and learn about Jesus we can soon find out how compassionate and merciful He was (and still is). Yet he died at the hands of those He came to save. One could easily ask, "Were is the hope in that? How can anyone find hope in death?"
There IS no hope in death. But there is hope in Jesus Christ.
"20 I have been crucified with Christ and I (my old self) no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” - Galatians 2:20-21
If we were to measure ourselves against one another, I'd have to say that my dad was better than most dads. True, I am probably somewhat biased in my assessment but if we look at society today there are a decreasing number of fathers like mine - a good son to his parents, a loving husband and father, a good provider for his family, he served his country in World War II and he sang in the church choir. And he loved. My father was a perfect example of a "perfect" father.
But in reality, NOBODY is perfect. Not even my dad. So when we stand in front of a holy God who demands perfect righteousness from all who hope to enter His kingdom, we all stand condemned. We have no hope whatsoever . . . unless . . . unless there was another way. If we place our faith in Jesus, the one who has already paid the penalty for our sins with His blood on the cross, we will gain entrance into God's kingdom.
If what Jesus said was true, all it takes to get into heaven is repentance and our placing faith and trust in Him, then what do we have to be sad about? If our loved ones have made that leap of faith, those who have died an earthly death are dancing with Jesus right now.
Honestly, I don't know if my dad placed his faith in Jesus or not. But if we are to examine ourselves and each other looking for spiritual "fruit," my dad's tree is plenty full. And then there is THIS verse, which carries new meaning for me today.
"25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease." - Mark 5:25-29
All we need to do is have faith in Jesus, faith that His promise of eternal life is true.
I cried when I said goodbye to my dad this past Sunday, I cried when I told a fish story of a young boy and his father, I cried when my sister called at 1:15AM to tell me of dad's passing. I will probably cry at his funeral. But my tears are not for my father. They are for those of us who remain.
You see, I have placed my trust in Jesus, I believe His promise of eternal life is true. After all, Jesus Himself defeated death when we rose from the dead. He promised us the same. His Holy Spirit lives in me and therefore I am alive, in Christ!
You may see me with tears in my eyes these next few days, but not many. My savior lives! And if my dad placed his faith in Jesus, my dad lives too. And he lives with Jesus!! How can anyone cry over THAT good news. And that is my hope. That ALL would come to saving faith in Christ. Death had no power over Jesus and it will have no power over us either. IF . . . if we only would choose to believe.