Today was an incredible day.
Today was a very hard day.
Today was the first time I have ever actually been with someone when they passed from this life into the next.
Today I had to say goodbye to my grandpa, but today I get to rejoice that he is no longer suffering.
My grandpa "Pops" has been fighting colon cancer for almost 7 years now. He was considered terminal back in August (?) as his cancer had spread to his lungs, liver, and bones. The doctors gave him three months to live. We have watched him rapidly decline and I honestly stand in awe of all that he suffered in his 7 year battle with cancer, but particularly in the last weeks. And he fought it all with the strength of a soldier and with a smile and a "can do it" attitude. Simply amazing. Makes me squemish at the lesser things I complain about.
Mom called me this morning at 6:30 telling me that he probably had a few hours left and that I needed to come. (My grandparents live about an hour north of here.) I arrived at their house about 8 this morning and immediately went to his bedside. Hospice has been helping them for several weeks now so he was in a hospital bed. My grandma ("Mani") was beside him and I was shocked at how much worse he was since the last time I saw him. It was incredibly sad and I definitely don't want to remember him that way. His breathing was labored but steady.
About an hour after I arrived, Mani went to lay down (she had been up all night) and asked me to sit with him. Slowly, over 2-3 hours, his breathing became more uneven and there were longer gaps in time between breaths. About 12:30 or 1 I went to lay down and rested for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When I got up, Mani was by his bed again and his breathing had actually increased to where it was before. I'm convinced that he is such a fighter and was fighting so hard for Mani. She told me when I sat down, "Now I pray that he would go." I told her that I agreed because he was laboring to live at this point and we knew he wouldn't ever be normal again. She needed to step out to get some air (bless her heart, she has just suffered and been so burdened with her care of him, but has not left his side) and asked me to sit with him again.
This is where it gets good. As I sat next to him quietly asking God what I could do for him, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to worship and pray. I immediately thought of my iPod which has some great worship music on it from Ihop and asked my sister if she would go to my car and get it for me. She did and I put my ear buds in and just started worshipping and praying quietly. I was praying in the Spirit and just that the Lord would bring Pops peace and give him rest. As I continued to press in, I noticed a distinct change in his breathing. He started digressing. He was going to be with Jesus. But the enemy didn't like it. I kept saying the name of Jesus quietly and telling Pops to walk to Jesus. Pops' countenance would change as if there was a literal battle going on in his body. See the enemy is the author of death and destruction and he doesn't want God to have any ground in this regard. I was praying specifically that God would receive the glory in Pops' death. At some point I was praying and Pops looked almost as if he woke up. He jerked his body and it startled me. My Aunt Vicki was sitting at the foot of the bed and we both agreed that it was close. She new I was worshipping and praying and asked if we could pray together. I took my earbuds off and she came and held my hand and prayed. I followed her in prayer and know that the Holy Spirit took over because I don't remember exactly what I prayed, but that the theme was that God would be glorified and that Pops would go to be with Jesus. At some point my mom came and stood beside us (the Lord woke her up from her nap, she told me later) and my brothers and sister did too. Finally I realized that I wasn't listening for his breathing anymore and I opened my eyes to see that he was gone.
Now some of you know that when people die there are some vile things that happen to the body as it releases. Again, I have never experienced this before, but fortunately my mom had prepared me for this, so I immediately excused myself to go outside because I have a weak stomach. The Spirit was so strong in the house that I was crying and praising Jesus that He came and answered our prayers, IMMEDIATELY when we asked him to bring Pops peace. He also received all the glory and honor and praise:
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
55"O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15) Amen!!
Never in my life have I been part of praying someone literally into the arms of Jesus. What a blessing. I'm convinced that God did it the way He did and in the time He did so that He would not just receive glory in a few people's lives, but that His glory would be expanded into as many lives as possible, just as it is now as you read this! God prompted my Aunt to come and pray with me because, "where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). He showed us His power. He showed us His glory. He increased our faith. What an amazingly good God!!! And what hope we have that we will see Jesus and Pops again one day.
Now grief will still come. We miss Pops. We hate the way he suffered at the end. My Mani, in particular, will miss him desperately. So please pray for our family. Pray that God would continue to receive the glory in this. Pray that His comfort would rest upon all of us, but especially my Mani. Pray that He would give her the strength to go on and that she would come to love Him even more through this. Pray that we would all know how to serve her and love her right now.
"Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).