by Pastor Tim Burt
While recently spending time with and encouraging someone who had lost a parent, it brought back such strong memories of the day I lost my dad. I thought I would reshare it with you! It’s not depressing or sad, but to the contrary, one of the most wonderful days of my life.
It was a Thursday morning. I had an early morning doctor’s appointment that I thought would take most of the day. Instead the appointment took about 15 minute and I was on my way out the door with my entire day given back to me! As I was getting into my car, I had the thought, Call Dad and take him out to breakfast. My day was somewhat unscheduled because Renee and I had originally had a vacation planned for this week. We had to cancel it because she needed to meet her sister and brother in Atlanta to help make plans for her father’s future. He had some medical issues and they met to help him. Consequently, it left me with a week off that was unscheduled and alone at home. So… I called my dad and he was excited to go. I told him, I’ll be there in 15 minutes to pick you up.
My dad was 90 years old. He was in good health, swam three times a week, and played golf with my brother, myself and my brother-in-law most Thursday mornings. He was one of the happiest people you could ever meet and had a sense of humor that was hilarious. He was never without a story or something funny to say that made us all laugh. And… he was a father of ten children! He was a selfless, hard-working man who taught all his children how to love people and have a great work ethic! He and mom provided such a great life for us all.
I picked dad up and we went to a local restaurant, ate breakfast, and talked and laughed for over three hours. Although it seemed like we talked about any and everything, there was one topic that was more dominant in his conversation than anything else. He talked about how thankful he was. I remember his words: Tim, It might appear that I haven’t noticed all that you children do or have done for me, especially these last few years since mom died, but, I’ve noticed everything. I couldn’t be more thankful. I have the most beautiful family of anyone I know. I love you all and appreciate so much what each of you have done to be a blessing to your mother and me. When she died a few years back, you all helped me through my most difficult period of life. And you’ve been so supportive to love and be helpful to me. I thank God for all of you every day. He then told me that he prayed for each of us by name daily—all 9 living children, 21 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren—plus the couple babies in the hopper. (The family has grown much larger since then.) That touched my heart in a way that is greater than I can describe. For dad to be this reflective was unusual but amazing as his child to listen to. What was behind this unusual mood he was in? When I brought him home he was happy, singing, and appearing to be on top of the world.
Later that evening about 9:30 pm I got a call from my sister. She told me that dad had collapsed, possibly had a heart attack and that I should come down to the hospital. Dad had lost consciousness, and never regained it. The family all met down at the hospital and we hugged and kissed him and cried as we said our goodbyes! After a few hours, he stopped breathing on earth and took his first breath in Heaven. This man was loved not just by his family, but by everyone!
After many tears, Renee and I could not help but reflect on how God had ordered our steps, graciously giving each of us special time with our father’s before they passed to Heaven. It became the gift we would never forget.
We thanked God we did not try to fix or force our vacation. It was like we both had a sense that God was leading us as our vacation started to unravel. We prayed and bound the devil from trying to steal it from us, but then sensed it wasn’t an attack, but a gift of God doing something… if we would just trust Him through it. She was at peace going to Atlanta. I was at peace staying home. And that led to my special breakfast with dad! In hindsight, though we didn’t know what was going down, God knew every step. Psalms 37:23 (NLT) says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” As it turned out, our vacation wasn’t unraveling; God was leading us to be available to help our parents, and lead us every step of the way.
Trusting God can sometimes feel unnerving when something appears to be going wrong and you are not sure of the next step. But, if you trust Him and continue to pray, He will lead you step by step. And you will see the fruit of trusting in Him! We’ve lived these kinds of moments from God again and again. Each time, it has built a greater trust within us. Even when some things unravel because there is some kind of spiritual attack, we have prayed and simply asked the Lord to turn what the enemy meant for evil, for good! And He has! And we praise Him for it. So, when things appear to be unraveling in your life, don’t panic. Don’t despair. Pause, pray, and trust the Lord. He loves you and will walk you through every valley in your life!
Psalm 23:4 (NIV) ” Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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