It is humbling and comforting when you realize that the Lord designed the entire Sunday morning service just for you. That is the way it seemed to me this morning. God knows exactly what is going on in our lives, day-by-day, and shows us He understands our feelings by ministering to us very individually.
My dad would have been 96 on October 15th, and on the 21st it will be one year since he died. As is my habit, I was reading through my journal from last year and realized how specifically God had answered my prayer requests. When we put my dad on hospice care I wrote this: "Lord, please guide us through Dad's last days. Help us to do whatever is healing and helpful. Please keep Dad comfortable, and let his dying process be peaceful for everyone. Give him a glimpse of heaven so that he is excited to see you. Reassure Mom. Thank you that we have hope in death because we get to spend eternity with you."
It was only this past week, while visiting with my mother, that I realized how God specifically answered every one of my prayer requests. All of us got to gather around Dad and tell him how much we loved him. He asked that I bring my guitar. We sang, as best we could, "It is Well with My Soul." His favorite aide, Merline, heard us singing this hymn in Dad's room and told us how deeply this song ministers to her and how peace overtakes her every time she hears it.
In the end, none of us were with Dad when he died except for Merline. He had a special affection for this woman and probably felt comfortable allowing her to be a part of his ascent to heaven. He left a word of hope for Mom: “I am going home now!” Merline told us she thought Dad got a glimpse of heaven and that his death was the most peaceful process she had ever seen. God gave her a Scripture to share with us. "Mark the perfect man and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace." (Psalm 37:37-KJ)
In worship this morning we sang "It is Well with My Soul." I am told that this song was selected after the worship leader prayed. We also sang "How He Loves," and declared, "He loves us, Oh, How He loves us...Oh, How He loves!" I could feel His love. Pastor Scott read from Joshua 4 where God instructs the leader of every tribe to pick up a memorial stone from the middle of the River Jordan. These stones were to stand as a sign among the people of the details of God's power and love. I realized, as Scott was speaking, that my journal is a collection of stones of remembrance and that God was giving me another one as He used every part of our service to minister to me very specifically. His targeted love brought me to tears.
It is a great privilege for me to share about my stones of remembrance with you, dear ones. It is my hope that you are encouraged by these stories of God's goodness. All of us need to collect these stones that remind us of God's love and provision for our lives. He knows every detail of our lives, what we are thinking and how He can most effectively shower us with His love. I am amazed by the way He loves us. King David said is well: "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." (Psalm 40:5) Amen!
Joan E. Mathias