May Those Who Come Behind Us, Find Us Faithful
My parents were an incredible pair of individuals. My mom still is. More on that in a minute. My dad was the most intelligent, well-read, versatile individual I’ve ever met. Yet, he never flaunted his knowledge. He was also one hard-working man. I remember being told that when Dad was a young, country pastor he won the hearts of those in the community because “when you shook his hand, you knew those were the hands of a hard-working man.” His incredible combination of ingenuity and hard-work was born on a farm in northeastern Colorado during the Great Depression.
The end of Dad’s life was tragic. Shortly after retiring from thirty years of service as a missionary, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We watched as the disease robbed him of the pleasure of books, then of speech, and finally of even being able to walk. Yet two things stand out when I think of the end of Dad’s life.
One, was a conversation I had with him about eight years before he died. He was at that horrible stage of the disease when he knew there were things he used to be able to comprehend and do and now he simply couldn’t. He looked at me with clear eyes and a strong voice and said, “Deborah, I’ve accepted that I can’t beat this disease. But that’s OK because I’ve lived a good life and it’s been in the service of the Lord.” Well, I know that I cried. It is my hope that at the end of my life I can say the same.
The other thing that stands out is the way Gospel music never ceased to comfort him. We were blessed that even as his mind was ravaged, his personality did not change (other than the silliness we always saw at home becoming more evident to all). One night in particular stands out. I was staying with Dad while Mom was at work. We were watching a Gaither Homecoming video and the song, “Where No On Stands Alone” came on. I looked over to where Dad was lying on the couch and I saw his hands raised to Heaven and a longing was on his face. He was no longer able to speak, but he was humming along with all his might.
So fast forward to my life here in Roatan. Last month we were blessed to have a group from my parents’ home church, Shartel Church of God (Oklahoma City), come to the island to build a home for one of our school families. The core members of the group ranged in age from mid 60’s to 80 years old. My mom, fell right in the middle having her 75th birthday while here on the island. The job was physically demanding, but they never complained. Then after working hard all day, they joined me in my English classes in the evening. Some of the members were retired Bible College professors, one was a retired nurse, another a retired businessman, and finally my mom. It was an awesome privilege to worship with these Godly men and women each night. They chose to come here to this little island to serve. They were such an encouragement to me. I hope that when I’m their age I’m doing the same. Thanks for coming, for building, and for always being a light for Jesus in all you did!
We accept the challenge – “May those who come behind us, find us faithful.”