In my life I have experienced moments of answered prayer and divine providence. I don’t base my relationship with God on those things but they come like kisses from my wife: irresistible moments of grace. This past week has been different and the same. I struggle to know what to call the series of events that have led to today.
This time a week ago the elusive Donna received a phone call, one in a long series of phone calls over the last few weeks. The series up ’til then had been about her dad’s declining health and the need for her to come to see him. He had been given some very bad and sudden news that he had cancer. The doctors felt that surgery, any treatment for that matter, wasn’t really an option. They felt he had a few weeks to a few months to live and very likely would spend the very last of his life in great pain. We had started praying and asking people to pray that if he wasn’t going to be healed here and now that his release from the sentence they’d given him would come soon and without pain. One week ago, almost to this moment, the Elusive received a call saying that her dad was leaving right away.
We sent out quick messages and said even quicker prayers. We packed in a hurry and jumped in the car and headed for Cinci. We pounded out the kilometers and then the miles and arrived here late Friday night. He hadn’t left yet. Her siblings were all here and everyone gathered around the bed and we prayed. Donna’s sisters had been reading the Bible to him, singing old hymns he knew to him and keeping vigil with their brother.
On Thursday morning, less than 48 hours before, the sibs had walked him outside and he had a smoke (his hobby), greeted friends and then he’d gone back to his room to rest and started slipping across to the other side almost instantly. Now, gathered around his bed we prayed and we released him into God’s good care. We asked for the answer to his prayer to be reunited with his wife who’d gone ahead of him so they could take that walk, hand in hand, through fields of gold.
Early the next morning he went from stable condition to life on the other side in the space of just two breathes.
And then it was us.
The next couple days were a blur of activity that culminated in service to celebrate and remember the Elusive’s dad. Her brother and sister wrote and read beautiful tributes to her dad. Her brother-in-law put together an amazing slide show that took everyone by surprise at it’s conclusion by including her dad’s voice in a sweet farewell he was fond of saying. The pastor was incredible to the entire family throughout the experience and brought an encouraging word for all of us.
At the cemetery we were met by an honour guard who did a 21 gun salute, played taps and then presented the american flag to the Elusive’s brother. It was so moving that it made me give very serious consideration to enlisting.
These last 7 days have been the bitterest and sweetest of days. There are moments I won’t ever write about and some I’ll write about another time and I’ll do both for the same reason: they were sacred moments. From where we stand now we can see events over the last few months and weeks that we complained about and lamented that were really Providence lining up things for a better blessing. There were prayers answered that we feared to pray but hoped to have answered that only the hand of Providence could have caused to come to pass. Even little things like the WordPress greeting at the top of the page that I’m typing this on: “Howdy”. It’s been there before but it’s significant in this moment because it was the way that the Elusive’s dad would greet us as we came on the phone or answered the door: “Howdy, howdy, howdy!”
One of the great mysteries of suffering is how near God seems to be to us. Something to embrace and fear all at the same time. There are fingerprints of love all over the last 7 days and in a very awkward way I wouldn’t trade anything for them.
But for now we’ll be missing the Elusive Dad & Mom until we see them again.
Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. See you in the morning J & C. See you in the morning.