Two dear friends’ fathers recently fell asleep in the arms of their Savior and awakened in His presence in the eternal Kingdom of God. Though sadness fills the hearts of those left behind, there is great comfort in knowing their loved ones are now filled with indescribable joy. Having followed Jesus for a lifetime and finished their race well, these men are now worshipping their Savior along with the saints of the ages.

How I remember though my father finished his race just over thirty-one years ago.

One of the last sounds he heard on earth were the words of Psalm 23. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear . . . for God is with me. As I finished reading, a knowing look crossed his unresponsive face and he called out for my mother. We sensed Dad was crossing through the valley.

A sweet peace pervaded his hospital room. The presence of God was palpable as Dad quietly slipped away. His long struggle over. His useless limbs and atrophied muscles now whole, dad was now in a place where there are no more tears. No more suffering, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death.

Leaving the hospital, we realized it was very early on a Sunday morning and celebrated Dad’s gain.

Over the next days, we walked through life on a bit of automatic pilot. Waves of grief came and went. And yet, those two favorite words again, it was not a grief without hope (1 Thess 4:13.) It was a grief undergirded by our Lord’s promise of resurrection in John 11:25,  I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

It was a grief intermingled with joy. Grief mixed with deep gratitude for my years with dad and for the depth of love we had shared over the years. I rejoiced in God’s faithfulness. God’s mercy. God’s grace and God’s deep love.

I pray my dear friends, and others of you who grieve, that you experience the same sweet sustaining presence and love of God.

I rejoice with deep gratitude for the privilege of sharing together the presence of God in this life, even as our fathers are sharing it for all eternity.

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