The One Thing
My father went in for what they said would be routine neck surgery on June 28. Doctors said this surgery would be an easier recovery than the shoulder surgery he was scheduled for and might stop the pain he was having. If not, he would have shoulder surgery next.
Complications from the surgery kept him in the hospital the first three weeks. He fought, worked hard to get better. Then came the complications from being in the hospital.
I went to see him in the ICU on July 26, my birthday. The same thought continued to run through my mind. “This isn’t how the summer was supposed to go.” Yet I didn’t despise the hours spent driving to the hospital almost daily. I didn’t regret one minute by his bedside, even if he was in pain, because at some point there was a chuckle, there were stories, our talks, and there was a whole lot of love. What I hated? The pain he had to endure.
I spent the night in his room on July 29. Early in the morning of July 30, he had a heart attack. I stood by him, holding his hand, because there was nothing they could do to stop it. As I was begging God to stop the pain, the Holy Spirit kept whispering to my heart to ask Dad if he knew Jesus. I fought Him, thinking this wasn’t the time, but He wouldn’t stop. That’s when I leaned in close to my dad and asked if he knew Jesus. He stopped moving, stopped moaning, and said ‘yes.’
“Then you don’t have to worry, Daddy, because you’ll go to be with Jesus.”
After a day of being surrounded by family, he did just that.
So, here I am, after losing two people I love deeply in less than two years, with a ton of questions and even more hurt. Knowing there’s no better place to take it, I’ve continued to take them to God. I’ve been honest with God about my frustrations, questions, and hurt. And in the past few weeks, He’s been whispering to my heart what the purpose of all these trials and hardships are. See, it’s all about one thing.
The one thing?
Drawing closer to God.
When this revelation came, I saw it through my time and talks with Dad this summer. We talked about how he knew God and the Bible were real, how God always provides for the needs of His people. We talked about how important it is to love everyone because that’s what Jesus did. My dad didn’t attend church regularly, he didn’t read the Bible, but he had accepted Christ years ago and allowed God to transform his life. I saw it with my own eyes. Even though we didn’t talk about it until the day before he died, I knew it was real. That morning I asked him if he knew Jesus, I thought I was asking for myself. But now I realize, I was asking for him. That look he gave me when I asked wasn’t one of confusion, it was one of realization. I believe it brought him back to the one thing—it’s all about knowing God. That’s why the next morning he so bravely proclaimed he’d rather go to be with God than ever go through that pain again.
My father never gave up. He had the courage to step into the unknown. He had the courage to step into eternity.
We get distracted by all the stuff of this world. The deadlines, the hardships, the pursuit of more, even the celebrations. Yes, these all make up a portion of the days we are alive. But if you have had the privilege of ushering someone into the arms of Jesus, you know at that moment that they take their last breath, NOTHING else matters. And at that moment when my father took his, though my heart broke, it soared.
Thank You, Jesus, I silently prayed, that he’s with You.
It doesn’t stop the grief, but it brings peace in the pain knowing the one you love is in paradise. It allows hope to grow in the midst of loss realizing when you know Jesus, the reunion that awaits in heaven will be amazing.
This wasn’t the summer I planned on but I will forever be grateful that God allowed me to walk this path with my dad. It’s not “good” that he died, but Romans 8:28 promises me God will work things out for my family’s good because we love Him. And Dad? Well, he’s in heaven having a Coke and sharing stories with Jesus. One day when I see him again, He’ll wave me over and say, “Kel, come here. There’s someone you need to meet.”
Oh, what a glorious day that will be.