Friday, July 24, 2009

Right On Time

Her Dad is dying. The hospice nurses say it could be any day now. Eighty-one years of life will soon become cherished memories of the life her father had lived. No one in the family is ready to let go. Although it's easy to understand that with his passing, he'll no longer be in pain, it's hard to imagine life without him; hard to imagine experiencing peace in the midst of so much grief.

I can relate. My Dad was chronically ill much of my life. In addition to having heart surgery in his early 40's, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just a few years later. Each day was a challenge and he suffered with constant pain. After my brother and I moved away from home, Mom would let us know when Dad was going through a really bad spell. Over the years, we got used to the ups and downs and just figured that Dad would bounce back.

The holiday season of 2002 was shaping up to be really special. After celebrating Thanksgiving at home, we were going to drive up north to spend time with my in-laws and my parents. Our Thanksgiving Day feast, traditional turkey and stuffing with a thousand sides had left me pretty sleepy and I remember toying with the idea of waiting until another day to call my parents. It would have been easy to talk myself out of calling, but for some reason I picked up the phone. That night, I heard Dad talk like he never had before. Usually when I'd ask him about his health, he'd just say he was fine and change the subject. That night was different. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and mentioned some things I thought he might like - his response shocked me. He said he didn't think he'd make it until Christmas. I told him it was just a few weeks away and that I couldn't wait to see him. After we hung up, I sat at the kitchen table and just sobbed, begging God not to allow my Dad to die. I knew I couldn't handle it...

Just a couple weeks later I got the call. I remember the phone call as if it were yesterday. My Mom's wavering voice, softly letting me know that my Dad had passed away. No time to pack my bags, get in the car and make the drive to Michigan. No more opportunities to call him one last time. He was already gone.

Instead of falling apart, God's peace engulfed me. I was right - in my own strength I wasn't able to handle my Dad's death, but God's strength and peace made it possible. God brought to my memory some verses that I had memorized long ago, Isaiah 26:3-4, 3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:" In the days and weeks that followed, I experienced the reality of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Death is never easy to face. With each trial, in His sovereignty, God gives us the grace we need at the exact moment we need it. I've learned that God's grace is always right on time. Let His grace be sufficient for you today.

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