Sunday, May 16, 2004

Real Life, Real Tough

The title summarizes life as I have journeyed to know it. I'm not sure if there is one person in this world that does not go through hard times at some point. From the people with no money to the people with too much money, we experience hard times. Hard times can come in the form of many things, loss of job, loss of home, loss of wife, loss of husband, loss of car, loss of love, loss of life.

Death is not something that is easy for us to talk about and again, I do not know of one person who can handle it well. The statistics are in, 10 out of 10 people die. The Lord even cried when one of his buddies died. Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.

About a year ago, my best friend discovered that her dad had cancer. At first, it wasn't sure exactly how bad the cancer was in his body. Eventually, they found out that the cancer was all over and he had a few months to live. Here is a man who had everything, a great job, a beautiful family, a nice home, a nice life. Here is a man who had a smile on his face at every point in the day. A man that brought joy to so many people lives. He never met a stranger, everyone was a friend. Here was a man with a few months to live. I have often asked myself, would I want to know when my time would come. I still do not know the answer to that question, right now I would say no.

During the last few months of his life, many things happened. Gradually the cancer took his strength, his ability to eat, but never to smile. The doctors told us that he had a month to live. He went from walking around in one week to bed-ridden the next week. When we are faced with death, many questions come to mind, many conversations come to mind. I was able to sit down with him and ask about life, ask him about how he felt about the Lord through all this. He said his faith never wavered, he knew God had not left him, he could see the Lord through the people that came to served him and his family. Through the friends that showed him love. He still saw the Lord. I saw these friends, they were always at the house, always serving, never expecting anything in return. I saw God's hand on all of them, through the service of his people. Saints are not dead people, you don't have to die to become a saint, saints are people who have repented of their sins, and put their faith in Christ. They love the Lord and serve Him and serve others.

To that point, I had never sat down with someone and talked about death. The Lord worked in my heart through that conversation. To see someone in so much pain, but occassionally still smiling, moved my heart. A man a few days from death, able to look up with a smile, and say, "hey bud!" Only to go back to sleep.

A few days later, we all sat around him and read him Bible verses. Verses of hope, of a future. It was the day before Good Friday. Over and over, we just read the Bible to him. A beautiful time. On Good Friday, most of everyone had stepped out the room, I stood at the doorway, somewhat looking in. He breathed his last. I walked in the room, then walked back out to tell his daughters. One 18, one 24. Everyone came in the room, standing around just looking. It was an atmosphere that I cannot describe. The oldest daughter, sat on his bed, looked at him for a second, then with a heart full of hope told everyone that this is a day that we should rejoice and be joyful and put a smile on our face. I've never seen one look at death like she did. She put hope in what the world would see as hopeless. We joined hands and just prayed, and prayed, and cried, and rejoiced. There is a verse in Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of His saints." As sad as it was to see a man who loved the Lord die, as Christians, we could still have hope. The Lord had not left us, He had not left this man, while we were crying, the Lord was in the process of welcoming him home.

How many conversations should we have had yesterday? Time is short in this life, God has given us today, salvation is today, tomorrow is not promised.

1 comment:

Noel said...

I liked what you said in the last few lines of your post - I decided a few months back to try and live without any regrets.... to take the opportunities that God gives me and utilize them to the fullest. If it's not God's plan for me He will shut the door. Some times its just hard to walkaway from a shut door... you tend to keep on knocking, not knowing when the right time to leave is.

If I take anything away from your friend's dad - its about being positive and trusting that God is with you always - I think what he had was incredible.... laters