Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I sent the verse above, from today's Daily Light reading, to Susan last night. Her heart was in turmoil; her father very ill with pneumonia in Windsor, and she worn out from a tiring week and sleepless nights.
She had quickly packed a bag and planned to leave this morning to be with him and to do what she could to make him comfortable. In spite of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, requiring oxygen 24 hours a day, this old soldier of 84 had decided not to go to hospital and was not on antibiotics.
As we drove to church for the Good Friday communion service, she was on my mind and in my prayers.
The worship team leading the service had chosen songs that were moving and meaningful and drew the congregation of our little church into a place of reflection and deep gratitude for the sacrifice which cost God everything.
During communion I glanced across the aisle to sunlit pews filled with parents and children. I watched hand after hand reaching up to take the elements of communion from those serving. His blood, his body, "this do in remembrance of me;" more sacred and meaningful than ever, on this day of all days.
I held the small plastic cup of grape juice and a piece of bread, waiting for the moment in the service when in unison we would take elements, when suddenly, squatting down by the side of my seat, was a familiar figure clad in purple; Susan.
Her words were pressured and intense. "I'm leaving; he's gravely ill, please call Frances and please call as many people as possible to pray. I'm going to nurse him."
We hugged each other and I said, "God be with you; He will be."
At the end of the service when there was opportunity, I went forward and prayed in place of Susan, for her dad.
Once home; the house fragrant with the scent of baking ham, I quickly emailed four groups to pray, called Frances, and then six grandchildren and their parents filled our home with laughter and chaos. It was time to focus on family and food.
Finally it was evening. The silver Honda van had left the driveway, loaded with Burston grandchildren, and the Adams grandchildren had returned to their home downstairs. All was quiet, when the phone rang. It was Susan calling to give me an update.
All the way to Windsor she said that she had adjusted the radio dial, trying to tune into CBC, and on every radio station there seemed to be songs with the same message; "If you love someone, tell them while you can. Don't wait."
Finally she was there. She was fighting back tears as she prepared to see her dad. That morning he had been delirious and had not known his own name, but as she walked in, he looked at her and said, "It's you!"
She had grabbed lip balm as she left her house, and as she gently rubbed some on his dry, chapped lips, his wife, Peggy came in and asked, "Would you like some ham?"
He said, "No, I want hot dogs."
Susan thought, "He's doing very well, for someone who's dying." He ate two hot dogs without buns, and talked to Susan for hours. He seems to be rallying, even without antibiotics!
They spent some hours talking and her dad was talking about the future--about such things as a kind of pillow he wanted.
After spending time making him as comfortable as she could, Susan booked into a motel. She has so needed a good rest and God has given her exactly that. She has time to relax and read, and catch up on some sleep. Such an unexpected gift.
Susan described her brief visit to the church that morning. "I stopped in," she said, "Got a hug from you, grabbed some communion and ate and drank it on the way out the door."
She continued, "I thought, as I flew in and flew out; this is what it's all about; the Body, being there when you need it, giving you what you need."
And she said, "My dad might just be jumping up and getting a job tomorrow, with all the prayer."
God is so good.