I wanted to share the following letter I sent out:
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Happy New Year to all of you as well! We share a common hope in Christ and that is the bond that ties us together. I praise God and thank Him for you and that you are striving to live for Him. I'm thankful I have you all to share my praises with.
Many of you know that my father past away a week before Christmas. I know you have been praying for me and my family. Thank you so much for the time you have spent in prayer. It is a sad time for me, but also a time of great rejoicing! I do believe that on my father's death bed he truly became born again!
Some of you would say, huh? What!? My dad was an Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher for 30+ years...and I'll tell you with as much honesty, but also with as much respect as I can...my father had RELIGION and not a relationship with Jesus Christ! I do not say this lightly, but with firm conviction and a warning to all of those who call themself a born-again believer and also for those who may be pretending or led astray in a man's false teaching...BEWARE OF THE LEAVEN AND YOKE OF THE PHARISEES! It almost dragged my father's soul to hell.
I have been praying for my father since I was a little girl and before I was even born again from my own sin. I have cried tears that could fill oceans and begged God to show my father the truth of repentance in Christ and the relationship and fruit and gifts of the Spirit that follow. There were times of great apathy in my Christian life where I said...I've prayed enough!!! I'm tired of praying for my Dad! But again and again God would smite my heart to pray more for my dad. Well, God provided a way for me to see him the week of his death. I spent time caring for him as he laid helpless in bed and in pain. He couldn't eat and was now refusing water. Every bad feeling I had and reservation to truly love my dad was gone when I saw him lying there in that bed. Death was imminent now. Day was fading fast. Sin had paid it's wages and life would soon be past. (lyrics from a Ron Hamilton song flood my mind.) But then...
My dad asked me to pray for him. I prayed and he said..."I'm not sincere." He said it once, twice and then over and over again as if he were a broken record. "I'm not sincere, I'm not sincere." I asked, "You think I'm not sincere in my prayer for you?" He said, "No, no me! I'm not sincere! I have been rotten!" I fumbled for words and I sadly gave a pat answer, "No, Dad, God is on your side." He said, "No! God is NOT on my side!" I could not believe(I believe Lord, help my unbelief!) what I was hearing, I thought I would never see this day. Finally, God gave me a word..."Dad, you can pray right now and ask God to forgive you for not being sincere and He will forgive you." He insisted on praying right then and there. And for the next several minutes my father cried out to God in a way I have never seen before...He cried out for forgiveness of sin, he had prayed for my forgiveness specifically and our family's forgiveness. Tears streamed down the side of his face. I wailed and wept like Hannah at the altar.
Immediately, where once lived a haughty, prideful, religious pretender now presided a humble, redeemed servant of Christ who was now asking for hugs and telling me he loved me... I AM COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY BY THE POWER OF GOD AND THE POWER OF PRAYER!
Throughout the brief time he had left on the earth my dad encouraged us to forgive one another and to love one another. I didn't want him to die...I wanted him to live, to now live his life for Christ instead of living his life to fulfill the law. I cried as he slept and asked God to let him live. He died, but NOW he is born again. I do believe my dad is now in heaven where there is no more pain. That brings my heart much relief in this New Year.
And may you all be encouraged to keep on praying for those who are lost and in their sin. We get tired, we wonder, when Lord? You may think, "I've been praying all these years for my Mom, my friend, my co-worker." ...KEEP PRAYING! And keep on trusting in the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT to call people to conviction of sin and lead them to salvation. Our faith may be weak at times, but His word still stands pure and true!
May God renew your vision for His kingdom this year and give you a fresh burden for those who are dying in their sin with no hope. May God bolster your families as you serve Him. Keep praying over those children and God will raise up servants for His glory. We love you and thank God so much for you!
"Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!"
Life has been a rolling along and my poor blog has been entirely neglected by it's owner. Poor little bloggy. Welcome to the world of facebook. Blogs are nice for people who can really write, but facebook is where it is at for those who have a very, very short attention span. Eh, hem.
*long thoughtful pause followed by a sigh* I can't believe all that has taken place in my life in the last six months. One mentionable high on the list in the part of my mind that never sleeps is, well, my Dad.
I do feel numb that my Dad is going to die soon. It feels weird and strange for me. I can't imagine what it might seem like for him. For the Christian, is death really that joyous thing that happens when you are safely ushered into the arms of Jesus? I'd like to believe that, but as I sit here and think of what it would be like to die when I still have kids and a husband to love, sadness overwhelms me at the thought of it(the "d" word), even as a Christian, dare I say.
I'm dusting off my blog to tell nobody, somebody what I feel about this death thing. Personally, and without much "pat-answer, Christian reason" I don't think death is fair sometimes. I don't think it's fair that little children have to suffer and die in this world. Many or most of you would agree. On the same level of unfairness, I think is my Dad being broad-sided, without warning, by cancer and impending death at 69. I have no intention to shake my fist at God. I trust His judgement on the whole, but in times like these I wonder, well, the proverbial question: Why?
There is much unfinished business and much to understand and to forgive. Is it fair that he should slip away, peacefully in his sleep without coming to grips with all that he has done? Most of you don't understand where I stand or where I come from, but I need to know why people die and leave behind so much unfinished business behind them. I guess it is not for me to know, maybe. And, at this point, does it really matter?
As I write all this in my attempt to dust off my blog I realize that I need to dust off my heart as well. I have become callouse towards my Dad. I don't hate my Dad, but the trap of holding on to the past and the present, for that matter, keep me in a place of indifference that I don't want to be, especially now since these could very well be the last days that he has on this earth.
So I'm asking God to help me. I need help loving him and letting my heart be affected by his sufferings...because I am a Christian. I struggle to have the mind of Christ. I know I can love my Dad without a return of that love, but it is hard. It's hard not to have your father's love, in life and in especially in death. It's very, very hard. I'm a non-person to him and I have to let all the pent up emotion and feeling that surrounds that thought...I need to let that go.
In about 57 minutes it will be my sister's birthday.
I wanted to write some things about my one and only on the eve of her 35th year.
When Beth and I were little we always had to share a room. What with 5 children and seemingly always a small space for us to fit in, that was inevitable. I'll say it's partially what helped bring us close when we were little...having to share a lot of things, not just a room. I will never forget the nightmares I had as a child that sent me running into my sister's arms for comfort. She would protect me from the monsters by laying her arm across my chest the whole night through. She didn't know it, but I would wake up and when I could feel her arm there I knew it was alright to go back to sleep again...I was safe.
We spent many nights hiding behind the sofa where mom sat to relax and get a few evening shows in. She'd eventually hear us behind her and we would dash to the bedroom all while laughing and yelling, "Book, Momma's coming!" It was a joke...mom never really cared that much that we were up that late on a school night. Mom was laid back when it came to that kind of stuff, but shoot, don't you dare make her late to anything! I remember getting left at the house one time when I didn't get ready quick enough. Mom went around the block and I was in a panic. I thought she wasn't going to come back around, but she did.
Beth was always the good kid in the family for the most part and in some ways I wanted to be like her. She was my big sister. I also remember fighting over who got showers, curling irons and a certain shirt first. One time me and my sister were at my brother's house visiting when we were still in high school. Well, we both decided we wanted to wear the same article of clothing that morning. An all out brawl insued over who was going to have it. I think I won. I can laugh my head off about that now!
We never had a lot of money to buy a doll house for our barbies, so we made our own house out of books, cardboard or whatever we could find. My mom would let us take blankets and some furniture outside in the summer time and make rooms on the lawn and we would pretend we owned our own house. Guests (neighbors) were invited over to our "house" and it was so much fun. We went to a neighbor's house and played "pageant". We dressed up in different clothes and walked down the made up runway to show off our stuff. I was always the chubby kid in the bunch, so when it was my turn to walk down the runway the kids laughed and poked fun at me. I ran away and cried. My big sister was there for me and I think I remember her consoling me.
We sang together, laughed together, cried together and fought together. I don't know what I would do if I ever lost her. She's my friend like no other friend. I can't totally be myself around anyone else that I know. I don't have to put it on, gloss it over or fake it up when I am with her. That kind of relationship is priceless. What can I say? I miss her and I love her. Cheers, Bethy, and may it be the happiest of all birthdays.