“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. Where I go, you know, and you know the way.”
~ John 14:1-4
One of the things that I realize as I start each day, is that my calendar seems to be filled with reminders of people who have died. Recently while I was spending time with a friend of mine I shared, "I live with a calendar full of the names of people who have died."
At the end of each quarter, I put together a video filled with the faces and names of those that our team has cared for until they died. Each quarter there are a few that really "stand out," as someone I wish that I really would have had the chance to know before some disease or decline had occurred. This morning I woke up thinking about one patient in particular who had a nine and fourteen year old living in the home.
This man was really pretty amazing. As someone who worked closely with cancer patients, he knew what the process of his disease would look like. "It's terrible knowing," he would sometimes say, especially when he would recognize the advancement of the disease, and how his time was becoming short. So often when I would meet with him we would talk about his faith, the "letting go" of things he sensed were transgressions, and worked to take care of things that he wanted to do for his wife and children before he died.
"The master list before death," is what he called it. As some create a "Bucket List" of things that they hope to do with their life before they die, his list was about the things he needed to do for his family.
He changed all the toilets in the house, because he knew that in the next five years that would be something that would have to be done. A new sprinkler system placed, and a new back door installed because the existing one was "beginning to rust." Each day there seemed to be something being done that would help to ensure that the house and a number of things were done so that his wife, "wouldn't have to worry."
Amazon deliveries seemed to arrive daily as well. Birthday and graduation gifts, cards and letters written about all kinds of subject matters and a few videos were completed when he felt the subject would involve a "face to face visit with dad." He worked tirelessly to ensure that he would "still be there for them."
One day he wanted to talk about the things that he was going to miss out on. The subject of his daughter's wedding came up, and he began to cry. "I won't be there to give her away, or to dance that first dance with her." I totally understood. I have a daughter as well, and our conversation took me back to a midnight feeding when she was only months old, and of me holding her, rocking her in my arms, and thinking about the day that I might spin her around on the dance floor on her wedding.
I just remember thinking, "You can still do this."
He and his wife talked, and a plan was made. The next weekend, before he reached a point where he could no longer stand, they would go to a wedding venue and video him dancing with his daughter that could be played at her wedding.
I remember seeing him following the weekend, too weak to stand, "We did it. I danced with her and we got it all on tape."
The "Master list of things to do," had a huge "check."
Everything this man did came from a good place for his family. His faithful heart.
We cannot live with hope and joy without also living in a state of being prepared. For those of us who knew this man, we were watching a father prepare his family.
For us, Jesus provides, in a way, a faithful heart like this father. Jesus tells the Disciples that he, "goes to prepare a place for us." When I think of what this man did for his family, I feel like that I have seen a glimpse of what Jesus is doing for us. I have to believe that somewhere Jesus is working on a "Master list of things to prepare," for us!
We are reminded that among the things that we possess, faith, hope and love, love will remain. For each of us, God's list for us always begins and ends with love, just as this father's did for his family. We are all the living illustration of what God's love looks like when the Divine and dust become one. Love is the divine, indestructible core of our being.
The love this father had for his family will continue to remain, while continuing to bear fruit from one generation to the next, just as the love that God has for us will continue through eternity.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.