Tuesday, January 7, 2014

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel, 
That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear. 

I remember being told one time by a very godly woman, that the Lord often works in themes. Perhaps it's easier to be understood as repetition….God will repeat Himself for various reasons, maybe to direct us on a certain path, to show us an area of sin in our lives, to change the way we pray, to comfort us. If I were to pick a theme for the past 5 weeks, it would be the song "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"…the lyrics have become so much more personal. 

At the beginning of the Christmas season, I wanted to decorate our chalkboard with a stanza from Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb" where he sings, "Glory to Jesus, Ancient and strong, Giver of Love and the theme of my song", but decided on something that was more immediate to the way my heart was feeling at the time, so I wrote this instead…

My soul had just felt heavy…maybe it was the Braxton Hicks of the labor pains to come.

About 10 days before Christmas, a family I knew through work suffered a tragedy I don't need to repeat here; I cried for days, just not understanding the hurts that God allows to happen. That same weekend, my Dad called telling me that my grandfather, Baldy, was not doing well and I should go see him. (I've talked about him before here and have mentioned in the past that Silas' middle name, William, is after Baldy and my Dad. He's very special to me.)

So, on December 17, Adam, Silas, and I drove to Rome, GA, to visit him in the hospital. He smiled and talked to us and I know that he understood we were people that loved him, but he couldn't remember my name. His nurse told me that he hadn't smiled or been as alert as he was until we had arrived.

After posing for some pictures, because that's just what Baldy and I always do, Adam left for a bit so we could just be together. Baldy was dehydrated and hadn't been eating hardly anything (he's super picky), so I asked them for food I knew he liked…chocolate pudding and milk. I had the privilege to feed him because he was just too weak. 

He tried to share his pudding with me and joked around with me. I was teasing him and said something like, "I bet your glad I came so I could get them to get you the good stuff." and he replied with, "Nah.", quickly followed by an "I'm just kidding. I'm glad you're here." I think he was lonely and it broke my heart. I stayed until he was discharged and driven back to his nursing home. Silas sat on the bed with him and kept trying to climb on him, but Adam and I were afraid he might hurt Baldy because he seemed fragile for the first time in my life. We spent some really sweet time in prayer, praying for Baldy to be healed in every way, that he would be the Lord's. I hugged him, kissed him, told him that I loved him, and we drove home.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny; 
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

On Christmas Eve, my birthday, while my family was down to visit, my Dad received a call from Baldy's nursing home saying they were sending him to the hospital again to get IV liquids because he wasn't eating or drinking. We went to our church's Christmas Eve service that night and I told Adam, I'd never felt such sadness at Christmas; I spent most of the service longing for Easter, longing for Jesus to just….come….back. I called the hospital a few times to check on him, but because of HIPPA, they would tell me to talk to my Dad. The news wasn't good. Baldy was sent back to the nursing home on comfort measures only.

On New Years Eve, the nursing home called us to say we needed to come if we wanted to see Baldy before he passed away. I left work, grabbed Adam and Silas, and drove as fast as I could to Rome, praying that I would make it in time. I also prayed that I could be there when it happened; I just didn't want him to be alone. 

Baldy had stopped responding to his name and would only open his eyes when they turned him in the bed. My Mom and Dad were already there and I'm glad we brought Silas; he brought a lot of laughter. We told stories, watched Silas pretending to be a football player, talked to Baldy. My parents left in the late afternoon and because Silas was getting fussy, Adam left for awhile too. I think Adam knew I needed time alone with my grandpa.

Oh God, those moments with my grandpa were the sweetest and most heart breaking moments of my whole life. How do you tell someone how much they mean to you, how much you love them when words just can't portray the feelings of your heart? 

I sang to him because he loved music. I don't know any country songs (which he loved), so I sang hymns I felt the Lord place on my heart…"How Deep the Father's Love for Us", "In Christ Alone", "Jesus, I Come", "Amazing Grace"…even "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". He kept moving his head as though he were trying to listen better…he hadn't moved at all besides that. I asked him if he was moving his head to listen or to get away…I'd like to think he was trying to listen. I prayed for him and told him that the way I loved him was how Jesus loves: we are loved because He chooses to love us.

I held his hand, touched his cheek, kissed his face over and over again trying to get all of it engrained in my memory so I would never forget. I didn't want to leave, I was a mess as Adam was trying to get me to the car because as badly as I wanted to stay, it wasn't fair to Silas or to him…we weren't prepared to stay the night and the nurse kept assuring me it would probably be a few days. 

I bugged those nurses all day on New Years Day, but he was staying the same with a strong heart rate, oxygen level, and blood pressure, so we stayed in Huntsville. I started crying that night, overwhelmed by the fact that I was losing a man that had been so dear to me. I think the Lord was showing me comfort when Silas woke up and slept with us for about an hour. As Silas snuggled up into my neck, trying to sleep with his head on my face, I noticed the song in my head….

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, 
and death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

My Dad called around 5:30 a.m. on January 2: Baldy had passed away. He was 94.

The past few days have been very hard to say the least. I had dreaded Baldy's passing for years. He had always been such a special and big part of my life and I just couldn't imagine what life would be like without him. He loved sweets and added sugar to things that didn't need it, like grape juice..he ate Oreos after breakfast…preferred chocolate milkshakes over water…he added so much sweetness to my childhood…to my life.

I know the Lord has been ministering to me about this, about how badly I'm hurting and how I want to doubt His goodness, through Adam and other friends. It seemed like the Lord was singing to me on Sunday, that He was trying to comfort me through the Word. We sang two of the hymns that I had sung to Baldy, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" and "In Christ Alone" and the sermon was entitled "Searching for Purpose in a Confusing World". Death is not natural, no matter what anyone says…we were meant to be eternal because our Creator is eternal. I am resting on the hope that Baldy is with Jesus and that one day, I will see him again…and he will be glorious.

Even though it's a new year, I feel stuck in the stanza "disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death's dark shadows put to flight", but I hope that soon, my heart will start singing a new song:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings, in blessings
In blessings on your head

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain

In His own time
In His own way...

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about your grandfather. Psalm 84:10a


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