“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” —John 14:1,27 (NLT)
Many, if not most of my earliest life lessons were taught through the examples my parents lived themselves, reinforced in “other ways” when necessary. They taught the ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and faith in God, all in character-building ways that molded the person I am today.
But in all of the faith-based childhood lessons they guided me through, one concept I had trouble grasping was that death itself was a necessary gateway to an eternal home free of pain, suffering and worry; death equals freedom was an equation that intellectually I had trouble accepting.
Then came a 10-year battle with three forms of cancer that my parents waged together; Dad’s body was the battlefield, and Mom was the logistical and emotional support that took care of what doctors could not.
First cancer, defeated. Second cancer, defeated. Third cancer, well, that one finally proved too much. Through it all, my parents unknowingly had resumed the life-lesson role they had played so many years earlier. Without complaint, they battled a formidable foe with all the determination they could muster, bolstered by an ever-faithful belief in God and the promise of eternal life.
The day we left the hospital with Dad for the final time is one that eventually led to my own life-changing moment. We all drove to their home, where plans had been made for hospice care to begin. Shortly after, Mom and Dad’s pastor stopped at their home, as he had many times before; he offered Communion and a prayer which dad quickly accepted, asking that we be allowed to pray the Lord’s Prayer “the old way.”
After taking Communion that day, in Dad’s beloved “golf room” with Dad in “his chair” and Mom at his side, Dad looked at us and said, “I’m ready.” Hearing those words, I felt ... peace ... an emotional and physical peace that I find difficult, if not impossible, to explain. I no longer feared his death, my death, or anyone else’s for that matter—this feeling of absolute peace remains today, more than three years later.
Though I miss Dad’s physical presence, I have finally and forever learned the power of trust, a gift from God through the Holy Spirit, which I’ve since discovered I continue to gratefully apply in new and unexpected ways throughout my daily life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our hearts and minds to trust in your salvation, which releases us from fear in this life and in death. Amen.