You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
My dad, a retired Presbyterian minister, is 80 years old. Tonight he rests at Baptist Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina where the doctors have told us they are out of tricks. Weeks ago he and my Mom finalized funeral arrangements for both of them. My Dad has the hymns written down that he wants sung, has talked about a special trumpeter he hopes will be available to play at his service and keeps asking me if I have my speech ready to which I continue to respond, "I am not making a speech." He is certainly nearing the end of his life. Will this be his life ending trip? Tonight he told me, "no, not this time." But the fact remains he doesn't have much more time.
My Dad's life has been a series of miracles and God's grace. At the age of 47 he had a heart attack that the doctors say should have killed him but apparently sometime before this heart attack he had a "silent heart attack". Silent because he had no symptoms. This silent heart attack set up enough collateral circulation that when the blockage caused the heart attack he did feel, the blood was able to reroute itself. He spent a little more than a week in the hospital and came home. We rejoiced. God's grace or miracle?
Years went by with annual trips to the cardiologist and all was well until one day he needed triple bypass. He came through surgery well but he had a quadruple bypass instead of the triple they had anticipated. My parents celebrated their 45th anniversary on his first post op day. The next day he was back in ICU with multiple pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs). He spent a few days in ICU and then came home. God's grace or a miracle.
Several years went by and he needed to have a pacemaker implanted. He felt better and life went on. Mom and Dad went on a cruise up the Panama Canal and Dad was having some irregular heart beats. When they saw the cardiologist after getting home the pacemaker became a defibrillator as well and would be ready to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm if it detected a rhythm that would not support life. Shortly before Thanksgiving of that year the defibrillator did its job and he got shocked. Not once, not twice but three times! Without the defibrillator he most likely would have died. Some would say, "great job electrical and biomedical engineers!" I ask, God's grace or miracle?
I have lost count but I believe that same defibrillator has shocked his heart back into a normal rhythm seven times. The last time he was shocked Dad said, "I wonder how many more times God will reject me before he allows me to come home?" God isn't done with you yet Dad. Grace!
My dad was able to preform the wedding ceremony for my daughter Megan as she married her high school sweetheart, Judson. We all cried. Grace!
Last September while in Atlanta, GA babysitting for one of my brothers, Dad became gravely ill with what turned out to be an untreated strep infection that traveled to his already weakened heart. He suffered kidney failure which added forty pounds of extra fluid to his body and blew him up like a balloon. The "veg", as they call it, grew on one of his heart valves and took almost 2 months of IV antibiotics to get rid of it. This condition is fatal to more than 60% of the people who are affected. My Dad survived. God's grace or miracle?
He rests at Baptist Hospital fighting an unknown demon with a heart that is weaker than it was less than 2 weeks ago when he was also in the hospital. The doctors are out of tricks but they press on. Dad wants to be here but is ready to go. He will be cremated and his ashes sprinkled in a garden at a nearby church. He says his funeral should be on a Saturday so it won't inconvenience everyone but he also says NOT this Saturday. His heart is finally wearing out, technology can do no more. He is in God's hands now. I know we are out of miracles so tonight my prayer is for grace.
Well done, good and faithful servant! Sleep well. I love you.