I saw two brothers visit their dad in the only way they could these Covid days, on a phone looking at him through a hospital window.
We gave my father-in-law our love and encouragement and he gave back his love and appreciation for us being there.
He’s going to get through this
He was going to make it. He had to. He was so strong, so healthy.
“I walked to the window by myself,” he said. “I feel like I’m turning a corner,” he said.
Such a long, lonely time he’d had in the hospital. We were just sure he was going to improve and join us again soon. We’d see him face to face.
“You will see Levi play football again. You will see Josiah run again. You will see Anna graduate. You will see the younger boys play.” These were my last words to him in a text I sent. I wanted so badly for it to be in the flesh, but from heaven or in person, these statements were true.
I wanted him to keep fighting. To remember what he had to live for.
On my knees, fasting, and pleading. Everyone I talked to was praying for Neil to recover.
“Hear our prayer, oh Lord, please we beg you. Heal this sweet, kind, loving man…you have to. He has more life to live. He’s not done.”
News went from bad to worse in the coming days. Even as hope faded, we all kept praying for God to see him through this. “Heal those weak lungs God, we beg you, please.”
So many restrictions. So many difficulties on top of already difficult circumstances. His own kids unable to be by his side, unable to speak to him face to face. His wife was not allowed to see him through his darkest days.
Words from the doctor stung so badly. My body began shaking and tears came streaming. Neil’s condition was not going to improve. Too much scar tissue on the lungs. The life giving organ was failing him.
“God where are you? Didn’t you hear us crying out to heal his lungs? You are the great physican. You are the miracle worker. Why aren’t you healing him?”
“We trust you God – it is not turning out the way we prayed for. Please help us trust your ways.”
Linda, his faithful, steadfast wife was by his side now. Till death do us part they said, and they were living by that commitment.
Hand in hand, words of love shared along with goodbyes that never wanted to be said.
Reminders of God’s character came to me. We are weak, He is strong. His strength would be what could carry us all through this. I realized how much I needed to just rest in His perfect character, because the questions we were asking couldn’t be answered. I had to rest in who He has proven to be, time and time again.
Resting in who God is
He is good. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. His ways are higher than our ways. He is sovereign. He is just. He is righteous. He is perfect. He is kind. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is compassionate.
He sent his son to live a perfect life, for my imperfect one. If anything in life is not fair, it’s that I – a sinner – have the promise of eternal life because of the life of Jesus. My sins can be forgiven without having to pay the penalty they deserve, His mercy. By His grace, I have been given the gift of salvation through my belief and trust in Jesus.
This is who God is, even when I didn’t understand or see evidence at the time.
A testimony of Neil’s strong faith
That is the truth Neil lived by. While suffering himself, he was thinking of eternity. He recognized a hurting young woman, who had strayed from God. She had not prayed in years.
This gal was his nurse. Linda had the gift of meeting her and hearing her story. Her faith was struggling. Neil prayed for her. Through tears, she told Neil he forever changed her life. He would always have a special place in her heart.
He could have been wallowing deep in self-pity. The loneliness, despair, depleted health would drive most people into a pit, unable to think of the needs of others.
But not Neil. He changed this woman’s life for eternity. How many lives will be impacted because of this woman’s newfound faith and trust in God? How will it impact her family, friends and strangers? We won’t know the extent of Neil’s loving kindness and prayer on this side of eternity, but we know the impact is great even for one life to be saved.
We were focused on Neil in our desperate prayers for healing, yet God was healing the life of another through Neil.
Faithful servant of God
Most people would be blessed to have one faithful, God-honoring, supportive, loving father. I have been richly blessed by having two.
He also raised my husband to be the compassionate, hardworking, others-centered, faithful man that he is.
Neil was a caring, thoughtful, drop-everything-to-help-someone-else kind of man.
He was a quick-witted, caring, supportive cheerleader for each of his grandkids.
This man, Neil, lived a life worthy of the calling, leaving a lasting godly legacy.
He was a faithful servant of God to the very end.
He will be missed greatly by so many.
So, yes, this was goodbye, but we are thankful it is not a forever goodbye.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”Psalm 91:1-2