About 4AM I was seeking consolation in the book of Job, unable to sleep due to a heavy heart. I was deep in the curse Job pronounced upon the day of his birth and found these beautiful and solemn words…
“Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
let it hope for light, but have none,
nor see the eyelids of the morning”
Little did I know that in a few short hours my father would be going to “meet his Lord” – as he said to me just a few days before when I asked him what he was thinking about. He died at 6:32AM while my brother Chris and I watched him breathe his last breath through tears of both joy and sadness. Just seconds later Mom, Sarah, my sister Stacey, and Chris’s wife Diane burst through the door in hopes of sending him off with their goodbye.
I will cherish many moments I had with Dad these last few days. Two come to mind: one, was when I leaned over him in his bed while holding back tears at the discomfort I could see in his face. I said, “Pop, I wish I could help you, I really do. You know I would if I could.” With his eyes still closed and without a word he reached up and patted me twice on the arm as if to say, “Thank you, son – I wish you could too.” The second was when I was sitting on the bed at his side talking to him and I brought up his favorite verse Philippians 4: 6&7 – I started to recite it, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God…” and quietly my Dad jumped in with a hoarse whisper and said, “And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding…” – he said “surpasses understanding” as if he was drinking a cold glass of water, something he craved but we were unable to give him much of at the time – and together we finished “…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It was hard for me in that moment not to dissolve into a puddle in front of him, but I wanted him to know the courage I felt and shared with him as he faced his passing from this earth.
This afternoon we met with Mom and Dad’s pastor to talk over his memorial service that my brother and I are arranging. We are structuring it around Dad’s verse. Chris will share his memories over verse 6, and I will share mine over verse 7. I hope we can get through it. A few days ago, as I was reading Philippians 4, the phrase at the end of verse 5 that sets the context of 6 & 7, “The Lord is at hand…” really jumped out at me. We’ve asked the pastor to finish off the memorial with an exposition on this phrase after Chris and I are done. We know Dad would have wanted all who attend this service to know his Lord, to know that He was at hand for him – during Dad’s whole life and especially at his death – and that Jesus is at hand for any who call on his name in faith. There will be non-believers at that service and I pray the Spirit chooses to rush in like a wind and do His work in their hearts, as well as the hearts of those who follow Him.
Thanks so much for your prayers…and the emails. They were known and felt. It has been a struggle for me and will continue to be for a while. Tomorrow I wake up for the first time in my life without my Dad living and breathing on this earth – and I feel undone about that feeling. Nevertheless, I trust the God who was at hand for Dad and so will He be for me.
Peace my friends, and remember the Lord IS at hand,
Kirk & Sarah