The phone rang. It was three o'clock in the morning. It was bad news; it's always bad news at three in the morning. No one calls you that early in the morning just to tell you that you've just won ten million dollars. It was Mom. Dad was having a heart attack, and I was needed to drive them to the hospital. I was dressed and out my door in five seconds. Driving over to their house, my mind was trying to remember how to do CPR. Was it five compressions to one breath, feel for pulse, or the other way around; five breaths to one compression, feel for pulse? I was certified some twenty years ago,and in my excitement, I couldn't remember. All I can remember is praying, "He's too young to leave me now."
When we got him to the hospital, this being an early Monday morning, the waiting room was empty. There was a doctor and a nurse sitting at the front desk. I told them that my dad was having a heart attack. They took dad to an examination room, and while Mom was getting Dad admitted, he went into full arrest. The emergency staff was able to bring him back. Mom had called my sister, Sharon right after she called me. Sharon had arrived a couple of minutes after we had arrived. Mom, Sharon, and I went in to see Dad. I was in shock. My dad looked so tired, so worn out, like he was in the fight of his life--he was.
I remember starting to pray asking for the Lord's comfort. All that came out of me was "L-" or "Ga-"; I couldn't even say a simple prayer. All I can say is, thank God for the groanings of the Spirit. There I was: Couldn't talk, eyes shedding tears, pointing from one Father to another. I was told later on by one of the pastors at Judy's and my church that God heard my silent, demonstrative prayer.
Later on that week, Dad had to have quintuple by-pass surgery. The surgery lasted longer than what we were told it would take. Then the news came out; Dad's operation was successful, but there were complications in the recovery room. It seemed part of Dad's heart was weakened, so they had him on a device to help strengthen his heart, but it was only temporary. Even so, the doctor felt confident enough that Dad would make it through the night. He was right.
This last Mother's Day marked the fifth anniversay of Dad's heart attack. He's walking up to three miles a day, and is getting regular check ups. He celebrated his seventy first birthday in January.
Mark Nazarian, Senior Pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Judy's and my old church, has a saying he taught his congregation, "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." In the midst of heartache, God is good. In times of immense joy, God is good. Dad's heart attack taxed my very being, it shook me to my core. There was nothing I could do except pray, and I did a fine job at that. I didn't want to pray for God to heal him in God's way, because sometimes God heals the person by taking the person home. You see how selfish I was being - I didn't want my Heavenly Father to take my earthly father, who would have been better off with my Heavenly Father. But in all things, God is faithful, and God is good.
At our new church, we've met a dear sister in the Lord. She is a prayer warrior. A few months ago, we got a phone call from one of the members on the prayer chain. Her husband was killed the previous night in a car wreck. We just met the husband the previous week at prayer meeting. They were going through some difficulties with their oldest daughter and had just come to some peaceable conclusions. Now, her husband is with the Father. A whole range of emotions flooded that household, as well as all the lives this family touched. At this point it is hard to say God is good, but He is. Some skeptics will say, "How can this be a just God?!" Look at the tragedies from His point of view. Look at the many lives that are touched and changed. God doesn't call us to understand, just have faith. I'm not saying God "sets" up different ones just so He won't feel lonely, or to punish someone either. Remember He does hear and see. He does understand the feeling of loss. Remember His Son was killed, too.
For those of you who may not understand the Father's compassion, let me share a story about what my dad did for me one night. When I was eight years old, I was bat boy for my dad's slo-pitch team. The umpire or one of the team mates would tell me when I could go out and get the bat. There was one time when there was a runner on second, and the batter hit the ball to the outfield. I ran out to get the bat and forgot about the runner on second. He flattened me like a roadkill possum on a Texas highway. I ate a ton of dust, got the wind knocked out of me, and I had no idea who was driving that truck. Then I felt my self being picked up and talked to. Dad held me in his arms, asked if I was alright, told me where I went wrong, and that everything would be fine. I didn't understand what just happened to me, all I knew was there was someone there who picked me up and gave me words of comfort.
The Lord we serve is not out to throw His judgment on us - yet. He is a Father who disciplines His children for our own good. Sometimes, when He is trying to tell us something and our lives are full of distractions, he might deny a job promotion only to hand us something better. He might lay us out flat so that we are looking up to Heaven, and He is saying to us, "Now that I've got your attention..." He grants us mercy and grace, and grace, and grace...He's not quick to judge us, for He knows we are a flawed creation and not the smartest things on two legs; we have to struggle with our own will. He is willing, though, to be patient with us.
God is good all the time; remember brothers and sisters, in the valleys of trials and the mountains of joy, all the time, the Lord is good.
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