This past week I have been reading and pondering the last chapters of Genesis; specifically the death of Jacob. Genesis 49:33 says, "And after Jacob finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people." It begs the question, "Did Jacob know he was uttering his last few words? Did he know the time he would leave this world?" In pondering that question I could not help but think of my dad! If you've been on this blog for seven years or more, you may remember that incredible weekend I wrote about, when both my parents passed away within 42 hours of each other. They were sharing a room in a nursing home in this last month of their lives. Mom had Alzheimer's and had become non-responsive. John and I and my sister and her husband were all present with them. On this one August morning, Dad suddenly asked my sister to get his teeth! She dutifully ran to find the dentures in his bathroom and placed them in his mouth. Then he turned to me and urgently asked me to find his glasses. I found them and carefully placed them on his face. Then he (literally) drew his feet up and raised up in the bed so he could see our mother, his beloved wife of 70 years. "Is she in pain?" he whispered in a thin, squeaky voice. "No, I answered him. "She is comfortable and the hospice nurse says she will be on her way to heaven very soon." He nodded and then in a voice so soft I could barely hear him, he said, "Okay, then I quit" and he breathed his last.
I feel like Jacob and my dad had some things in common at the time of their deaths. They had some instructions to give. They knew they were setting out on another journey, one that would take them out of this world, away from those whom they had loved and cared for for many years. They needed to feel that they had done all they could to be sure everything was in order, and to leave a lasting legacy of faith, truth and endurance, rather than worldly wealth and things.
In pondering these moments, I felt the Spirit was leading me to a passage in Romans 13:11-12: "And do this, knowing the time, that it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the Day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light." I'm not exactly sure why the Lord brought me to that passage, or how it connects, but what I'm getting is that Jacob knew the time and my dad knew the time, when they would awake from sleep (or death) and enter into the Light of their eternal salvation! So, should this not also apply to each of us? Is the night of our pilgrimmage on this earth not far spent and the Day of His Coming not very soon?
In an attempt to get my sweet husband out for a little holiday cheer, as we have done in the past, I took him to a lovely restaurant yesterday for lunch. He cannot manage a menu but I know what he loves, so I ordered his favorite grilled salmon with a Caesar salad and jasmine rice. For me, fresh fish glazed with Teriyaki ginger and Parmesan spinach. It was so delicious and such a treat! But I watched as he gingerly moved his fork around the salad and struggled with how to eat the salmon. I discretely reached over to cut it in pieces for him. He did not enjoy lunch. It was simply unfamiliar and exasperating for him. I drove into the nearby shopping center and gaily told him we would find each other a special gift and it would be fun! I kept my enthusiasm high, in the hopes of drawing him into the joy of it. I led him over to the men's department to try to find a new pair of dress slacks. He has been so unhappy with how poorly his old ones fit him now. We found a very nice pair on sale that fit beautifully, but as we headed for the check-out, he said to me, "I don't know how much longer I'll be wearing pants!" That took my breath away. He hasn't said anything like that before. Is he sensing what Jacob sensed, what my dad knew? I don't know, dear friends. I only know that as I expressed above, none of us know how close we may be to our last day here; and as I hear the familiar strains of "Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let Earth receive her King!" I am stirred in my spirit that this carol has never been more true right now than it was 2000 years ago! For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the Day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light."
Kelly Ferrari Mills