My life faded from the daily thoughts of my family. The light in my eyes dimmed with each passing sun. This earthly body was shutting down and it became difficult to find ways to say goodbye to those I loved. I no longer had breath sufficient to voice my thoughts. The reach of my fingers and the tears on my cheeks had become my allies in expressing the love that was still alive in me. It pained me to see the hurt in their eyes as they struggled to accept the fact that I would soon be passing from this life. My memories and the thought of seeing my bride once again at the throne of God were the only solace in my waiting . . . that is until he came.
I remember the first day the young whipper-snapper came into my room with a smile on his face and a guitar in his hand. Whose idea was this? I thought, certainly not mine. Do-gooders trying to feel good about themselves will spend an hour in a nursing home to ease their conscience for not doing anything else and then they’re gone until their next guilt trip.
He introduced himself as he patted my hand. I don’t know if he saw my rolling eyes or not but if he did he pretended not to notice. I had to admit that he seemed to speak to me rather than at me.
Come on, son, get this over with and move on to bother somebody else. I tried to convey my mind in the scowl on my face. Undaunted, his smile remained as he pulled up a chair and began to sing as he played his guitar.
As his songs filled the room the walls of my resistance to this young man began to crumble. The hymns of my youth filled the air as memories, good and bad, flashed in my mind carrying with them the emotions of a life-time. Songs of “The Old Rugged Cross,” “How Great Thou Art,” “In the Garden,” and “Amazing Grace,” turned the pages of my life.
As I watched this young man from my bed I realized he was not singing to me alone but to his God. His joy was contagious as he brought a taste of heaven into that room. I found myself thankful he came regardless of why or who sent him. As he came to the end of “Amazing Grace,” I found myself desperately needing to find away to tell him how thankful I was for his songs and how much they meant to me.
He rose from his chair and rested his instrument against the wall. As he approached my bed he took my hand and prayed the most wonderful prayer of peace over me. How glorious was that peace that poured over me as warm honey. With no other way to convey my thanks to him I squeezed his hand. He looked into my watery eyes with his smile and simply said, “Your welcome.”
I watched as he gathered his things and walked to the door. Looking back he winked and said, “I’ll be back soon.” I knew he meant it and I was glad.
For the next several weeks he came just as he said he would. Singing hymns of joy, peace, grace, and mercy. What a blessing he was in my final days.
Then that day came when my life on earth was fading fast. The room was filled with family and friends who obviously had been informed that I would be departing from this life soon. I remember fading in and out of consciousness as each one said their goodbyes to me. I felt someone take me by the hand and gently squeezed it. There was something quite familiar about it. I struggled in my curiosity to open my eyes to see who it was. I was glad to see the face of my minstrel friend.
“You weren’t going to leave without a song, were you?”
I smiled and squeezed his hand.
“I didn’t think so.” He winks.
He began to sing my favorite song without his guitar as he stood beside my bed holding my hand.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above
Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love . . .
As my young friend sang I closed my eyes for the final time. His song echoed in the distance as I slipped from this life into eternity. When I opened my eyes I found myself here with you, Lord, where joy and love have overwhelmed me beyond measure. I’m finally home.
Father, I know you know all things and nothing escapes your gaze. Therefore, you know of my minstrel friend, Your servant, and his kindness to me and others. Lord, I pray that you might bestow a double blessing on his life. That the love and compassion he has so generously shown toward others would come back to him one-hundred fold in this life. That he may live long and prosper in You, Lord. I look forward to the day when He finds his way home in eternity. Where we will greet each other once again, face-to-face at Your throne. There I will join my new voice with his, giving glory to Your name forever.
Note: This is a fictional story derived from the true life and ministry of, Buster Jordan. An associate pastor, worship director, and my brother in Christ as well as a true friend. Among the other many ministry hats he wears, he also works with the local “Hospice” organization in traveling and singing to Hospice patients. I find him to be a true inspiration of servanthood. This story is dedicated to him and others like him who have dedicated themselves and their talents in music in helping others. It is also dedicated to the many devoted men and women of the Hospice Foundation of America.
Songs: “The Old Rugged Cross” written by George Bernard – 1912, “How Great Thou Art” written by Carl Boborg – 1886, “In the Garden” written by C. Austin Miles – 1912, ”Amazing Grace” written by John Newton – 1779, “Wonderful Peace” written by Warren D. Cornell, music by W. George Cooper - 1889
This is a story reflected from the Lord's heart, and wonderfully told! It reminds me of ministering in hospitals at various times, and trusting God's Spirit reached people through prayers...powerful! Congratulations on the Jewel Chest!
George, this is so neat! I love the way you switched from the slipping-away musings of the first paragraph to show the old man still had some life left in the next paragraph. The "whipper-snapper" remark is just the perfect touch. You captured the essence of both personalities very well. I really enjoyed reading this---oh, and the title is a wonderful hook to catch your readers. Thanks for writing this!
Hey George WoW! Well written. I remember my days of Nursing Home Ministry well. You have captured to perfection, much of what i was blessed to experience! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. God bless you.