Reflecting on my dad’s home-going unveiled a clearer understanding of my Heavenly Father’s tenderness towards me and those in grief. Scripture comforts Christians in earthly loss with these words:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thess. 4:13-14
Leading up to my dad’s passing, his physical struggles limited many daily activities, and my mom selflessly attended to his needs. Because she cared for Dad so well, he remained at home his final weeks on earth. Family huddled around him, whispered of memories past, held his hands, rubbed his arms, and spoke thanks for his fatherly example.
Through my dad’s final words, with one foot aimed toward heaven and the other loosely planted on earth, we experienced the Lord’s compassion and mercy. Awe gripped me at Dad’s expression and vigor, having seen something so awesome, as he declared, “Oh, my goodness!” Asking if he saw Jesus, his right arm reached upward with excitement twice! Mom asked him for a hand squeeze if he saw Jesus, and he squeezed her hand!
On Dad’s final day, by his side, I sang hymns, Christmas carols, and worship songs, voicing my excitement in joining my Dad, Jesus, and the family of God in heaven. I pictured a heavenly hand-off, like a runner’s baton passed off during a team race, and my Dad represented the baton. As family gathered round, I sensed the nearness of the Lord’s presence anew — His hand reaching for the heavenly side of the baton we both treasured. Feeling the physical touches of family, my dad breathed his final breath and entered an eternity with Jesus and every Christ-follower preceding him.
Though we grieve his loss, we look forward to the day when suffering, pain, death, and tears disappear because the Lamb of God truly took away the sins of the world! In doing so, He prepared an eternity with Him for all who trust in Him. Yes, grief persists, though not without great hope, comfort, and joy because of the Heavenly Father’s love illuminated by my earthly father’s home-going.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – John 17:3