The following was originally posted in my first blog May 22, 2006. This conversation with Walter has come to mind the last couple of days. He's in his final days.
I leaned against his old red pickup looking with him at the running-board he bought earlier in the day. He is an old man. He's hoping his son will take the time stop to do some work that he can not do anymore...like put the new/used running board on his truck. That would really make the old man happy today.
Ever since I met him, he's been a very active fellow. The past few years though have weakened him. He's been depressed and having a terrible time doing the chores he used to do with ease.
After talking about the weather he looked at me. "What are we here for David?" He's never been one to talk about God. "What is this life about?" His dad was a womanizing preacher and he's seen Christians do a lot of things that Christians ought naught to have done. I told that I could only give him a spiritual answer, that we are here in a fallen world to discover God. We are here to have a relationship with Him.
Walter just turned 80 this past weekend. He was baptized a long time ago and yet still concerned that he was imperfect and not sure if he was going to make it into heaven. I told him that not everyone who called out Lord Lord would be recognized, that good works were not going to get us in. This matter is beyond an earlier baptism but about grace and a continued relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I was trying not to answer him in Christian speak. Here is a fellow feeling as if he is standing on the very edge of his life with genuine doubts about God's judgement toward him. I didn't candy coat my reply but I tried to offer hope with truth.
It was a pleasant day and the conversation was natural and not preachy. I don't know what seed I planted but hope that he grasps onto hope and draws nearer to his heavenly dad.
"Those are sweet children you've got there David."
Yeah, that's another reason I'm here.
In 1990, my dad, after the ER team lost him two times after arriving at the hospital motioned for a pencil and pad. He had tubes running out of his mouth and throat, wires and tubes coming from everywhere. He couldn't talk. He had limited use of his hands and tried to express as much as possible with his eyes. Mom put a pad on his chest and dad scribbled as best as he could a message to a few family members that had gathered around.
It took a little time to make it out but dad gently nodded when we interpretted it's meaning correctly. The note said that he knew that he had died twice. He wrote that he went to heaven and saw all of his family there, even all of his children.
To me, that was neat. Here on earth we live in a linear time frame but God isn't linear. People who die do not miss the loved ones they leave, we will just be there together instantly. It's those who are left here to deal with life and it's sorrows.
Dad held on to life for about a month in ICU. At one point he reached out to me and wanted me to carry him out. He didn't have to say anything. He just wanted to go home and die. There are moments taht I wish that I could have obeyed my father in this matter. I shook my head "no" sadly. Hospitals are a terrible place to die. A week later the family gathered around his bed in ICU to bid him farewell. Dad's old friend Dr. Jordan stood with us to do what doctors must at time of death. He breathed his last and dad was no longer present. He went home.
I think the near-death experience that my father shared with us was God telling him that his family knows God and that his job done. "Your children know me Westbrook, it's time to come home."
The description of our job here on earth is simple. TO GLORIFY GOD.
We are put in this fallen world to discover our Creator and our great Love, Jesus Christ. We walk this place without seeing His beautiful face to learn about faith and hope. We are here to experience His realness. We are here to know God and to recognize His ever-presence of this wonderful and invisible being. I can't go into great detail but I can grasp a little piece of the mosaic. It's His rules, and He is God, and I just have to take the rest in faith.
My children play at my feet and I know that the most important thing I can do in this life is to introduce them to God. I want Him to show His realness and to be ever present in my household so that they will recognize Him from the get go. As a father, I am to be training wheels for their REAL father, their Heavenly Father.
I can't put everything I know in my heart into the shape of words. I do understand what my life is about. It's another thing to communicate these things to those who's thoughts are clouded with sin, fear, unforgiveness, or what have you. Something happened today though. God made a moment and the old fellow was asking questions. God take that conversation, take those words, bless my father in-law.
So Walter and I leaned against the bed of his old red pick-up, considering eternity. Pray for Walter as he comes to your mind. I don't know what took root in his heart this afternoon. Maybe nothing did. I hope that he finds hope and meaning during his twilight. Pray that he finds real relationship with His REAL father. The Father that will never let him down or disappoint him.