Three years ago today, my Dad left behind his pain and illness and stepped right into the arms of Jesus.
That thought has comforted me many times since…
My Dad had Parkinson’s with dementia. The disease that started slowly taking away my Dad – a strong, proud man who could do so many things – years ago. For a long time, we didn’t really understand what was happening to him. And we didn’t really understand what Mom was coping with either. May God forgive me.
My journals reveal that I was going through a emotional struggle at the beginning of 2009. My words: “I am weary. So heart weary.” They also reveal that God was giving me verses - a bunch of FEAR NOT verses. One in particular was Isaiah 43:1-2.
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Notes in my Bible for those verses: ” Going through rivers of difficulty will either cause you to drown or force you to grow stronger. If you go in your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If you invite the Lord to go with you, he will protect you.”
Day after day, more & more “Do not fear” verses crossed my path in devotionals and even just flipping open my Bible. Another one was Deut 1:29-31…
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
GC’s all over the place. I didn’t realize that I was being prepared.
That early spring was full of phone calls between my mom, my sisters and my brother. I cried out to Abba. The situation with my Dad was getting bad. The situation with his caretaker - my mother – was getting bad. I felt the Lord telling me to go home.
Then my daily devotional for 3/15/09: Deut 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Catching the drift?
It was a difficult trip, filled with heartache as we realized just how bad he was….. (I had to stop typing for a while. Started sobbing my eyes out. Thought it had been long enough that I could talk about it without being wrecked. Guess not). We saw the Daddy we knew at times, but nights especially were full of hallucinations and delusions. We saw how my mother just could NOT take care of him the way she had been. No rest. No break. No sleep.
We made the hard decision to take him to the geriatrics unit at the hospital for help – for evaluation and for help in deciding what kind of care he might need. One of those tests was a swallowing evaluation for dysphagia when we found out that everything, even water, was going to his lungs rather than his stomach, which would cause aspiration pneumonia plus the danger of choking to death. Doctors recommended a feeding tube. So another hard decision was made, but we thought it would only be temporary while we waited to see how new medication would help. We didn’t understand that the feeding tube would be permanent. That Dad was in late-stage Parkinson’s. That he would not get better.
I begged the Lord: “I don’t want to lose my Dad. But I don’t want him to suffer either. How can we know what to do? We can’t – only You can! This is Your job, not ours, not our decision to make! Please make this so clear, if this is Your will for him to come Home now. If he can get better enough to live a fairly decent life, please make that happen. What’s the morality of removing the feeding tube? Is keeping it in prolonging his life and not letting You do Your job? I don’t WANT to do your job! Please don’t let it come to that decision!”
His answer: “It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. I am in control. My will be done.” Then I read Judges 4:14:
Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?”
He was moved to a hospice facility temporarily until a nursing home (another hard decision) opened up for him. The first night, Dad slowly & methodically removed the alarm from his gown and pulled his feeding tube out. It was not something my Dad ever wanted, and although he may not have fully been in his mind, he certainly made his wishes known. Hospice was no longer temporary.
I had gone back to my own home, but now it was time to return. But when? How long did Dad have? When was it practical for me to leave? I cry out to Abba again. The very next morning, I read in my Scripture perpetual calendar the verse II Chronicles 20:17
Stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you.
Did you get that? GO OUT THERE TOMORROW! So I did. And I had a blessed few days with my Daddy while he was still fairly lucid. He knew I was there. I was able to read the Bible to him. It calmed him. I was able to tell him “DO NOT FEAR FOR THE LORD IS WITH YOU.”
The night before Dad’s funeral, I had a panic attack. Chest pains, racing heart, still wide awake at 3 a.m. I turned on the TV & flipped through channels until I found a station with soothing music, beautiful calm scenery and believe it or not…BIBLE VERSES! Only in the Bible Belt. First I saw Psalm 23. Want to guess what was the 2nd verse I saw?
Do not fear for the Lord is with you.
No one can tell me that God doesn’t care. No one can explain this away. No one can take this from me.