Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blessed assurance

Some wise person suggested earlier today that I have my own blog. Hm. I love to write. So why not??

Today is a rather sad day but yet - there is peace and joy in it as well. My oldest brother, aged 59, passed away yesterday in hospital, five days after he had a fairly major heart attack.

Husband, father of five: Melody (29), Heidi (27), Marcy (25), Emily (23), and Cory (21). A walking miracle by all accounts, he had kidney failure over 15 years ago and the search for a donor revealed nobody that was a match ... Until his wife Sandy offered to be tested. Lo and behold, a match ! The doctors said it was because they’d had 5 children together. “Acquired compatibility.” If that isn’t marriage I don’t know what is!! The operation took place in Halifax in 1997. Husband and wife, on operating tables at the same time, each taking a huge risk in both offering and accepting the gift of life.

But the anti-rejection drugs Skip took, combined with the lowered kidney function (he only had one working kidney: Sandy’s!) and high blood pressure meant a recipe for diabetes, which he developed about 5 years ago or thereabouts.

Sometime in the last year, he injured his left hand and lost the use of two fingers. An excellent guitar player, - actually he could play anything with strings, acoustic or electric, including piano and violin – this was a very significant loss. It took away his reason for being, his enjoyment of everyday life. He consoled himself with his only other hobby: cooking. He often ended up eating his own “experiments” though, and his weight increased, not good for someone with diabetes and kidney trouble.

His pastor, however, tells that in that same time his relationship with the Lord deepened, and Jesus became ever more and more precious to him.

His heart attack this past Wednesday threw his wife and kids into a tailspin. His youngest daughter, Emily, was to be married this coming Saturday. She and her fiancĂ© Rick went to the hospital a few hours before Skip died. They went with the minister to be married right there, so that Skip could give his daughter away – he knew that one way or the other, he was not going to be available for the ceremony on Saturday, so they moved up the wedding and had a private ceremony right there in the hospital room – something for Emily to hold on to and remember, for years to come. They took a video. They’ll probably show it at the funeral. On Saturday, they’ll have a reception at the church because the wedding already took place – they’ll definitely show the video then.

Skip had a deep peace settle on him the whole time he was in hospital. He had a chance to speak to Cory, who is away from the Lord, at one point during those few days. Skip knew he was going Home.

That’s where he is now. I can imagine him talking to Dad, who died in ‘93. I can see in my mind our niece Beth, 25 when she died in 2004, greeting him and showing him around. I can just picture him jammin’ with King David. But all of this ... after he’s through clinging to Jesus’ feet of course (which might take a few millennia). Completely healed, inside and out, in an instant. Whole and strong. Happier than he ever imagined. Knowing the answers to all the questions he’s ever had about anything – and finding out that he didn’t need to know. Just to know Him as deeply as Jesus has always known him – that’s more than enough.

I’ve caught myself a couple of times talking about Skip in the present tense and have corrected myself to change to the past. But in reality, only his body, his shell is dead. The real person, who he is, is eternal. So I can say with assurance that the very best of the Skip I know and love is still a man of deeply held convictions, of great passion, of amazing integrity and yet humility before God. He still has the same love, the same intense desire to be close to the Master – now fulfilled, perfected, and on the “hallelujah side”. He has joined that great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us all on, encouraging us to keep trusting, keep pressing in to Jesus, keep loving and forgiving each other, keep going “Beyond the Walls” with the good news, and keep looking for the Day.

His life for and service to the King began in a little country church when he was 18. It will never end.

1 comment:

  1. Some comments I've received regarding Skip -

    "All that beautiful music."
    "It's hard to get your head around."
    "So great that he had peace."
    "Please pass on my condolences to Sandy and the kids."
    "We're praying for you all."

    The love of so many has been evident in the cards and emails, the expressions of kindness, the hugs, and even the smiles from a distance.

    My mom has appreciated so much the regular phone calls and visits she has received since Skip died. Folks know she needs to not be alone right now, and they've stepped in to keep her company and occupy her mind as much as possible.

    Many blessings be upon those who have shown in even the smallest way that they care.