Friday, September 22, 2017

A Knowing in My Father’s Eyes

December 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17 KJV)

Mom had Alzheimer’s. Although Dad was not in good health, he was determined to keep her at home.

Because we knew how hard things were for them, my husband, George, and I moved Mom and Dad from Georgia to St. Augustine (FL) where we lived and worked. Once they got settled, it became obvious that Dad was not doing well so I encouraged him to see a doctor in our area. Unfortunately, the report was not good; we learned he had prostate cancer and about six months to live.

I was devastated. Dad was my hero (next to the Lord, of course); he was unquestionably the most Christian person I had ever met. Never once do I remember him speaking ill of anyone. He was a WWII veteran and, of course, somewhat stoic, but kind and gentle, and always strong inside. He knew the Lord and, thankfully, so did my precious Mom.

We had a bedroom set up for him with a daybed in the living room area where he could be with us. I will never forget the day near the end of Dad’s life when I went in to see him to ask what I could possibly fix for him. I wanted to prepare something that would taste good to him. At this point, he was not eating much. To my surprise, he asked for some of my salmon patties with white gravy and biscuits. He ate every bit of it … that was the last full meal he ever had.

He wanted me to sit with him as he ate. He was not a man of many words, but he always managed to speak into my life words of wisdom, encouragement and edification. As be talked, Dad told me he knew I would do the eulogy and that was the way he wanted it. He instructed me do not brag on him but to brag on and share Jesus.

“From the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior after WWII, I have been a changed man. My life has been all about Jesus, Martha, not me.”

Carefully considering what he said, I responded: “Well, I am going to tell them what a wonderful example of Jesus you were!”

But, I didn’t stop there. I admitted something to him. In some ways it seemed quite selfish, but I went on: “Dad, the hardest thing, other than missing you so badly because I do not know how I can ever get through this life without you, I don’t want to see you lowered into the grave. I just can’t take it…I don’t think I can do it!”

Dad reminded me he would not be there; he would be with Jesus. Of course, I knew that but it seemed so final.

We talked for a while when he looked at me with “a knowing” in his eyes and said, “Maybe you won’t have to see me lowered in the grave!”

What? I responded immediately, “Oh, no, Dad! I will be there; I will get through it. I love you! I want to be there…it will be okay!”

His tender look and gentle response touched my heart; with “a knowing” he repeated, “It will be ok.”

The memorial service was so meaningful. Dad decided he wanted it in his beautiful hometown funeral chapel; the country church was too difficult for family and friends to maneuver especially since his sisters and many other relatives were elderly.

The local VFW had decorated his casket with the flag and taps were played. Dad’s Sunday School teacher of thirty years gave the first eulogy; I gave the main eulogy. Rev. Fred Cox, Jr., the pastor our family had grown close to over the years officiated at the service.

Many years earlier, Dad had asked Rev. Cox to officiate at his memorial service. “Clyde,” he said as he smiled, “I am about as old as you; you may have to officiate at mine!” Dad died at 87; Rev. Cox lived to be 93 before he joined Dad.

By the time the service was over, everyone was acutely aware it was raining; it was, in fact flooding as the rain came down in torrents. The funeral director told me I would not be able to go to the graveside; the roads were too muddy. She apologized but repeated that I would not be able to see Dad lowered into the grave; only the funeral directors and pallbearers would be able to go. They had special vehicles but because of the number of older people who wanted to go to the graveside, it would be too dangerous for everyone.

Immediately, I remembered the conversation not long before. What did Dad know?

I told relayed the message to my husband and reminded him what Dad said that day while we were sharing those precious moments. “That sure sounds like Dad; he was always my rock and always looking out for me.”

George smiled. “You know, it does sound like your Dad, but you know what, Martha? It sounds like your heavenly Father as well. I think they were in cahoots on this, I truly do!”

Dad loved me so much! However, my Heavenly Father loves and cares for me even much more. I had a good relationship with Him because my Dad reflected His image to me in so many ways. He knew the Word of God and knew the Lord intimately. Dad was that perfect gift from God to me: “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” (James 1:17)

Although I didn’t understand at the time, my Heavenly Father prepared me for my earthly father’s passing. His foreknowledge was spoken into my heart by my Dad as he said “with a knowing in his eyes” the words that continue to bless my heart: “Martha, you might not have to see my body lowered in the ground.”

Thank you, Father God. Thank you to my earthly father. Thank you for listening to my heart.

 

Martha and George, her husband of 42 years, reside in Clarksville, GA. They have a grown daughter and two granddaughters.   Martha enjoys sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, and expressing the joy of the Lord.


 Martha is a graduate of Tift College (Mercer University) and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she received her MDiv.  She completed a pastoral care internship at the V.A. Medical Center in Lancaster, Texas and a two-year residency in pastoral care at Emory Affiliated Hospitals, Atlanta, Ga, and was employed there as a hospital chaplain.   Martha is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Martha has also worked as a HS teacher, a children’s bereavement and crisis counselor, and a hospice chaplain.
 Further utilizing her gifts of encouragement, Martha is currently one of the assistant pastors at Living Waters, an on-line support group for women who are experiencing illness such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and other ailments. Looking to Jesus Christ for comfort and hope, this group keeps Christ at the center of all they do.  Understanding the struggles of those she serves, Martha has been diagnosed with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation and other medical challenges.

 

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