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What a Difference a Day Makes...
by pamela spurling
One year ago today I was scheduled to fly home from California where I had been for several days sitting beside my father who was dying of cancer. Since I had made my reservations after another visit, a month and a half previous to that day, I could not have known what the LORD had planned... I had only wanted to be with him on his birthday. On the day of my scheduled departure, I called my husband to tell him that I could not fly home as planned because I felt as though I could not walk away from that bedside knowing that Daddys days were numbered. And so, it was with his blessing that I stayed. An aside: the airline I was originally scheduled to fly with had merged with another airline during that month and in the transfer there was a rescheduling of flights and so when I called to reschedule my return flight, they had no record of my previously made reservations. Hmmm. I cried as I thought of our Heavenly Father... so careful to orchestrate every detail that concerns us. What a difference a day makes.
O, how I praise our LORD who only makes us to dwell in safety, who is continually working all things together for our good. O, what a difference a day makes... as I sat with Daddy that day I was keenly aware of Gods presence and His Hand in all of this. It was an honour to be able to attend to him, doing things for him that he would never have allowed me to do had he been conscious of my presence or of his surroundings.
Looking back on those days has made me ever grateful to our Heavenly Father and for His ways. I am more thankful than ever that He does not allow us to know the day or the hour... whether we consider the events of our lives or the circumstances we will undergo or even His return. One thing I know is that He is continually working all things together for good. I share this with you to encourage you to not be afraid of what the LORD may ask of you some day and to rest knowing that you will be upheld by His Righteous Right Hand. I write this also to comfort you if this message stirs in your thoughts sad memories of bittersweet days.
I dont believe I ever had sweeter fellowship with the LORD as I sat beside my fathers bed. As I read the Word and sang to him, I knew the familiar presence of the LORD and was filled with a bittersweet joy as I looked into the face of my father who would soon meet the LORD face to Face.
What a difference a day makes... The next morning, beside his bed, I read the Psalms... 27, 57, 87, 117, 147 and Proverbs 27... keenly aware that he was slipping away, but totally and completely unaware that I was literally spending his last morning with him. As I stroked his hands and forehead, combed his hair and fixed his covers, as I hugged him and kissed him, I was overwhelmed with love and thanks for this earthly father... this earthly father whom I had not known during most of my childhood... this earthly father with whom I had not spent great lengths of time... this earthly father who was now teaching me a new angle of love and taking me on a journey I will never forget. This is the earthly father my Heavenly Father used to teach me to look death in the face and not be afraid... this earthly father whom I had so loved and who taught me more about life and more about God than I had ever known.
I thought about the days and events of his last two months... from diagnosis to death was only about that long... I thought about the day he told me he had done the things he had wanted to do but now he sure wished he had learned to tap dance. Hmmm, tap dance. I smiled then, and now with tears, as I remember this. I thought about the stories he told... more than that, though, I saw in the theater of my mind all the memories of days together... I remembered how we used to drive around town with all the windows down... I thought that really was a convertible! I remembered when my husband and I renewed our vows and how my father in law performed the ceremony and my father walked me down the aisle and stood with my mother---a very different picture than the original picture of our ceremony where I walked alone. I thought about his love for each of his grandchildren. I thought about how he had cared for my step mother who had also died of cancer several months before. I thought about his weekly phone calls and the different birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions... and now, after all he had done in his life and all the people whose lives hed touched and all the accomplishments, awards, and earthly treasures... when it came down to that moment: none of those things mattered anymore. What mattered was that he had made peace with God... it mattered to me that he told me of the day he believed the LORD when he learned John 14.6. And so it will be with all of us... no matter what we find important today, nothing will matter in the end but what we did with Jesus. And everything we do boils down to this: "whom do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27)
Sometime during his last month, I found and had sent him a pair of tap shoes... I knew they wouldnt fit his size 12 feet... and I also knew hed never learn to tap dance this side of heaven... but I sent them to him anyway. During one of my trips to see him, I also bought him a Bible with his name engraved on the cover... and was able to talk with him regarding his faith in the LORD. I bought him a beautiful devotional that he loved to read. It didnt matter to me that he was only able to read it a short time... it mattered to me that he was ready to meet the LORD and that he knew The Way, The Truth and The Life... It no longer mattered that he wouldnt walk or talk or even dance again... but it did matter as it matters with each one of us today: where would eternity be spent?! What a difference a day makes.
And so... during the last moments of his life we stood around his bed and recited the 23rd Psalm and for some reason, that I now know was of the LORD, we skipped a couple of verses and at the close of the final verse: ...And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever... I knew he had quietly slipped away into the arms of the LORD; forever had come. It was peacefully over. It was finished. His earthly trials were done. The strangest calm filled the room. For a moment, I dont recall ever feeling more alone in my life---and yet, also keenly aware that the extraordinary presence of the LORD filled the place. After quite awhile, I brushed his hair, kissed him, thanked the LORD for His merciful kindness and said good bye for now... What a difference a day makes...forever.
That night as I lay in the bed rehearsing the day... I was struck with the finality of death. In death, there is no time to go back and redo or reset or rethink a position. It was the first night of my life that I recall such stillness... no sleep came to my eyes, only tears. No tiredness, only prayers, and songs and memories---so many memories.
What a difference a day makes...I was glad that to be alone and so thankful for the provision of the LORD that I could stay in the home of my precious sister in law and brother in law... so thankful that I could look forward to the morning when I would go home to be with my husband and family. So thankful for the plane ride the next morning that allowed me to journal and process all the thoughts that filled my mind. What a difference a day makes... maybe youve experienced such a time as that... and may I encourage you to write your thoughts in a journal... sometimes its helpful to go back and look at times gone by.
A couple of weeks later, as I stood addressing to group assembled to honour him at his graveside and to pay their last respects to a man they loved, I was struck with the awareness that there were few assembled there that day who knew the salvation of the LORD. I knew that part of my tribute and memorial would include the plan of salvation and the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Looking back, Im humbled at the LORDs direction and use of this imperfect vessel. But it was Daddys illness and subsequent death that prompted many decisions in my life. From that time to this, I have prayed to be a vessel God would use and continued to seek the LORD for ways He would do this. It is my prayer that He would use me to make a difference in the lives of those I meet or of those who read messages I write. It is with such praise and adoration that I thank the LORD that He holds everything together in the Palm of His Hand and that nothing escapes His gaze. Im continually thankful that He never shows us in advance the plans He has for us... for some of them would be too difficult to anticipate if we knew exactly the details of the events we will face. But one thing is for certain: no matter what we face, if our faith and trust is in the Living LORD, then we mustnt fear the days ahead. We can anticipate with joy and with enthusiasm the days the LORD has planned for us.
So, on this anniversary of the death of my father it is with awe and thanksgiving that I worship the LORD. He alone is worthy to be praised. He has used my husband and now my fathers death to teach me to live and to love... really live and really love and to do the important things. Each day you and I face situations and decisions we must make... we must decide which things are important and which things have lesser value. There are even things in our lives that really have no lasting value at all and need to be left off. Living today is too important to allow the disappointments of yesterday to dominate or control our thinking.
All these circumstances prompt me to love and celebrate my husband with a passion I had somewhat neglected, they prompt me to love each of our children with new love, they prompt me to make decisions I thought Id never make and stick to commitments to the LORD as never before. Im not fearful of what may come or of what the LORD will do because I trust in Him. I still grieve over family members who disregard the Gift of the LORD, who walk in their ways and neglect the Savior of their Souls. Now, when anxious thoughts fill my mind, I use them as prayer reminders of Who loves them and Who is in control.
Ive often wondered since that day... how the LORD would have used Daddy had his whole life been yielded to Him. And I wondered that about my own life...and so this is why I choose each day to live for Him. Have you ever wondered how the LORD might have used you had your whole life been completely yielded to Him? Do you think about this today... how He might use you today? Death is so final and there is no guarantee of tomorrow... so, I pray youll live your life today as if today is all you have; I pray youll love today as if today is all the time youll have to love.
Its been hard sometimes to move on and allow the days to settle into history as all days do. Today I looked at the pair of sandals he used to wear and the little tap shoes that I tucked inside of them. Ill never fit his shoes and he never tap danced. I see his face in the photograph on the shelf here above my computer. I miss his warm eyes and I miss his laugh... I often wonder when Ill stop thinking that I might just give him a quick call... Maybe someone you loved has gone to be with the LORD and you feel these same types of feelings... I pray the God of all Comfort will bless your day and fill your heart with His love.
What a difference a day makes...forever.
pamela spurling ~ The Welcome Home© 2000