It was October 27th, 2008. Everything in my life had come to a halt. I had feared my father’s death for as long as I could remember. Sitting in my father’s study, just a room away, I knew he was breaths away from his heavenly home. My father lay still in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room. All the furniture had been rearranged to accommodate the bed, and still… the bed was too short. His 6-foot 3-inch frame so obviously cramped for more room. And though we all noticed, no one said a word about it…we hesitated to ask for something bigger or more because honestly, we could not. Pain ran through our veins and seeped into any available crevice, only to reroute and find no room to escape. Days and days of heaviness…the kind that you feel in your bones, the kind of pain that cripples you at the core…pain that compels you to move closer to the ground so you can lie on the floor and weep uncontrollably. It was THAT kind of pain. Either you know it, or you don’t.
Only 25 days before, my father had received the diagnosis. Cancer. Stage 4. Growing and changing everything inside of him, starving his organs of life. Until October 2nd, we’d known nothing of it.
Now, 25 days later, my father lay there, weaker than each day before. His eyes stayed at half-mast and his skin felt cool and clammy, but he awakened readily when addressed. Meanwhile my newborn son lay on the floor of dad’s study, cooing and lifting his sturdy new head, waking up to everything around him. The sound of sweet, new beginnings bled into the living room and caused my father to smile. My cousin, Curt, one of the only souls I could stand to be around, stopped by for what would be a timely visit. Curt is an exceptional human being. He has an unpolished shine on his soul, an ability to walk into unsettling situations and bring a sense of peace with him. Weeks before, I had asked him to learn a song – one that had played so persistently in my heart that I could not turn it down. There in the study, with a guitar resting on his lap, we began to sing…his voice interwoven with mine in harmony.
Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned
And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord
Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything
And It’s just you and me here now
Only you and me here now
You should see the view
When it’s only You
Although the moment seemed utterly solemn and dark, our lives had been filled with a certain miraculous history. God had done what no man ever could. He had given me the purest gift. He had delivered my father from the consuming grip of alcohol and delivered a son into my arms after years of infertility. Oh, what a gift it was… powerful and pointed and personal. Those few hours huddled in the study were defining. Everything behind me, everything in front of me came into sharp focus. Anything that had clouded or smudged my lens would be wiped clear, clean as spotless glass. Clear and true. My season as a daughter, my purpose as a new mother became divinely apparent.
It was then, and only then, that I knew what the rest of my life would be about. Sitting in that chair in the study I realized…
I would have sunk down in utter hopelessness had I not known the Lord, personally and profoundly. Had He not revealed Himself to me in His word, walked with me through every valley and allowed me to worship with Him on the mountaintop. The scriptures I had learned as a child came back as if to remind me that God was sovereign over all of life’s moments. Choruses and praise songs flooded my heart on long days while I watched my father’s life hang on the edge of this earthly world.
Knowing God was, in and of itself, a pure gift.
And I was so sure that I was going to pass it on. As I observed that fresh, little miracle of life cooing on the floor, I knew… if my children were going to make it, they needed the gift of a great big God. One they could wrestle with in the trenches and celebrate with at each planned victory. And ultimately, they needed to be prepared to stand in my shoes so that when my life comes to a halt, they would have something more powerful and fierce than their mother’s love. They would be comforted by the eternal grip of a personal God… a God who knows how to create a life, a God who knows how to transform a life – a God who loves to give the purest gifts.