It has been one week since my dad's memorial service.
My dad went home to heaven on August 16. He had been in the hospital for almost two weeks. He went in because of a fever and hip pain, but his kidney was failing. He and I talked during those first days in the hospital, and he told me that he was tired, and was ready to go home. So when the doctors came and told me that there was nothing more they could do other than to keep him comfortable, I knew that my dad was okay with that. It was time to leave his earthly, broken, wore out body behind and put on a new, imperishable heavenly body.
You see, I knew that my dad knew Jesus. He hadn't just read the Bible, he believed it was the written Word of God. He had accepted Jesus as His Savior when he was young, and he had walked with Him and talked with Him for many many years. He had experienced God working over and over again in his life. He had many hard times - but had experienced for himself the peace of God that passes understanding, and had seen many answers to his prayers. He believed the promises in the Bible. He knew that Jesus had gone to heaven to prepare a place for him. And so it was time to see that place.
Dad and I had time in the hospital those last days to talk. I will cherish those memories, even though going there to be with him was so very hard. It was hard to see him slipping away a bit each day. It was hard to say goodbye.
But here are some of the things he said:
He told me, and my family, what a great family we had been for him and how proud he was of us.
He told Craig and me that he loved us from the bottom of his heart.
He said, "The next part is the most interesting part." And when I asked him what that was he said, "I don't know. But it's going to be good!"
He sang,"This world is not my home. I'm just a passin' through..." and his favorite, "How long has it been?"
How long has it been since you talked with the Lord
And told him your heart's hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed?
How long since you stayed on your knees till the light shone through?
How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call him your friend?
How long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?
How long has it been since you knelt by your bed
And prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that he'd answer you
And would keep you the long night through?
How long has it been since you woke with the dawn
And felt this day is worth living?
Can you call him your friend?
How long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?..
My heart is sad because my dad is no longer here on earth. I will miss how he'd tell me to be careful each time I said goodbye. I will miss how he would ask, "Do you need anything?" I will miss seeing him working puzzles, playing the keyboard, playing cards, watching sports, drinking Cherry Coke and having a corn dog. I will miss his smile, his gentleness, how his eyes would light up each time he saw me, and how much he loved me.
But the sadness is for my loss - not for him. I can't imagine how great it is for him to be in heaven now - to be walking (instead of in a wheelchair), worshipping our great God, seeing my mom again, and cheering his family on from above. He must be loving the music in heaven.
And my sadness is not without hope - because Jesus is my Savior too. So one day I will see my mom and dad again when it's my turn to go home.
Thanks, Dad, for your love. For believing in me, for helping me when I needed it, for showing me by example how to love and serve others, for teaching me about Jesus, for showing me how to enjoy the simple gifts in life, and so much more. I love you from the bottom of my heart too!