It was just a little more than a week after my husband's death. After a five year battle with rehabilitation from a massive stroke, struggling valiantly but never quite succeeding in his goal to walk again, he had finally succumbed to Parkinson's disease, but his death was very unsettling. Not only did he not want to die, but he was terribly frightened. This was very troubling to me.
I had been a pastor for twenty years and my husband had always been a man of faith. He had worked with me in the church and supported the ministry wholeheartedly. But all my pastoral experience with death had not prepared me for his fear. The words and the promises of a new life seemed to mean nothing to him. He was angry and did not want to hear "that talk" now. It alarmed me, for I was certain that he knew his Savior and was assured of a heavenly home. In the days following his passing, his response in those last days to his impending death was heavy on my heart. It also made my grief even more unbearable.
And then one restless night after finally falling into a troubled sleep, I had this dream. I was once again going to visit him in the nursing home where had resided for the first year after his stroke. He had hated that place and begged me to bring him home, and after much therapy, prayers, gathering of medical equipment, lifts, and house renovations, I was finally able to make our home accommodating to his handicaps. Now in my dream I was again making the daily trip to a nursing home.
Only this time as I approached the home I saw a charming red brick building with tall columns and a wide-wrap- around porch, not anything like the typical convalescent homes I knew. A friendly attendant, sharply attired in a neat white uniform with a three-pointed nurse's cap, white shoes and stockings, told me that I would find my husband out on the lawn. I started across the meticulously cared for green grass and down a path that was lined with ancient tall trees, when in the distance I saw my husband seated in his familiar wheel chair. My heart lifted as always when I saw him and I started to run toward him.
But to my surprise, very, very slowly he got up out of the wheel chair, completely unaided. To be able to stand on his own had been his dream through all those years of therapy and treatments. But then, to my amazement, he began to walk very slowly toward me. I was ecstatic. I could not believe my eyes. This was the fulfillment of all his hopes. "You can walk," I cried as I fell against him, my arms holding him close. "Now you can come home."
My joy knew no limits. He held me close and began to lead me back over the path I had just come. Then to my utter astonishment he said, very quietly, "I like it here. I think I would like to stay."
I could not believe what I was hearing. All he had ever wanted when we were separated was to return home. It was what we had both worked toward and hoped for and now he had the promise of the life he had so desperately desired. My heart sank with disappointment. Why would he not want to be with me? Tears were on my cheeks, and then I woke up. I realized that the tears on my cheeks were very real, and I sobbed like I had not cried since his death. How very much I missed him!
I lay awake for a long time, praying and asking God for some meaning to this surprising scene. The answer did not come immediately, but as the days went by, an idea began to form in my mind. Was it possible that God had sent me this dream as reassurance that my husband was in a better place, that he was at peace, and that he was no longer confined by a body broken by the debilitating stroke? Was that beautiful red mansion a symbol of his heavenly home? Was the kind and caring attendant a reminder that he was now being cared for by a kind and loving God? Was it God's way of telling me that I should not worry about his eternal peace, for he was safely home?
We may never know for certain the meaning of those unexplainable marvels in our life. But I have chosen to believe that this dream was God's message to me and I give thanks for the peace it brought me. To me it is reassurance that God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. There is a promise in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Hebrews. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." I will treasure that promise.