***Originally posted April 2, 2009. Reposting this week as these memories are always on my mind during Holy Week, no matter when it occurs.***

April 2nd is a special day for me. It is a day that is permanently ingrained in my memory bank. This day resounds with triumph and victory and great rejoicing. April 2nd, 1980, is the day my father died. Yes, you heard me right. It is a day filled with joy and excitement. You see, my father was a Christian. In fact, he had dedicated his life to ministry and he was a pastor until his dying breath. So, April 2nd was the best day of his life, because he finally attained his earthly goal - meeting his Lord Jesus Christ. What a celebration there had to be in heaven that day!

I was twelve years old when my father died. I have never had a great memory of things in the past, but I do have a few "snapshots" of moments that I always can picture in my mind.

The day my parents told me dad had a brain tumor.
The day we learned that it had returned three years later.
Sitting at lunch with Aunt Ruth's black mascara streaming down her cheeks as the prognosis became apparant.
Being woke up in the middle of the night to head to Grandma's house so dad could go to Mayo Clinic.
Being home alone with dad when he started to choke.
Snuggling with him in his chair when he was home.

But, these are the ones that really made an impact:

Dad had gone blind, but if you placed an open bible in his hands, he would "read" it by reciting verses from memory - long, lengthy passages. He knew and had memorized his bible! He truly thought he was reading, and found great comfort and joy in doing so. Within those words were the truths of hope and everlasting life. All he needed was within his grasp.

Dad had lost all ability to speak toward the end of his illness. One night, we gathered around him to pray together before bed as we usually did. (He was able to be cared for at home). That night, miraculously, he said the Lord's Prayer with us and raised his hands and gave the blessing. What a gift that was for that was the night he died. We had been blessed with one last memory, and what a powerful one it was.

Our God is a good and gracious God. You see, dad was once asked, if he could pick and choose when he was going to die, what would he pick? He always said that he would like to die during Holy Week, so he could celebrate Easter in heaven.

My dad died the Tuesday of Holy Week, and his Celebration of Life was the day before Easter. What a celebration of Easter he had that year! God is amazing, and rewards those faithful to him. He gives us the desires of our heart, and draws us to him. I just can't imagine the joy on my dad's face to greet Jesus for the first time, be healed of all his pain, and know that we would all be reunited again, as fellow believers in Christ.

So, this is a special day for me as well. This day causes me to reflect on my memories of my father, but, more importantly, it challenges me to have a faith that is firmly rooted in God's word, in God's promises, and in God's faithfulness. My father was a witness to me, even in his death. However, this day would have an entirely different feel, and be one of intense despair and sadness, if we had not all been granted the GIFT of eternal life with Christ Jesus, due to his death and resurrection. The lifelong plan of salvation has been fulfilled through Jesus. As the song In Christ Alone reflects:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Will you join me today in rejoicing in this great and awesome gift that we have received? If you have not embraced this free gift of salvation, do it now. Ask Jesus to forgive you of all your sins, and come into your heart. Now is the time - This Easter season, grasp the joy and peace you can only find in Him.
1 Response
  1. Joyce Says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I just read your post to my husband, and he said, "That's an awesome story!" We agree with you heartily that it will be unimaginable joy to see our Savior face-to-face. What precious memories you have of your dad, and of his love for the Lord!