**UPDATE 2/27/2012** (See bottom of post)
My heart hurts.
If things continue to progress as they have been for many months (and we have no reason to believe otherwise), I will be losing a close friend any day now. It could even be today. The cancer has ravaged his body, and I have watched him suffer in tremendous pain. My wife and I have gone over to his house several times in recent weeks to minister to our friend with worship songs. Even though he couldn’t really sing much above a whisper, he made it clear that he loved these times – and that singing to his Lord meant the whole world to him.
Thank you Lord for giving me the gift of music, that I might share it with my friend when he so needs it most. He loves the Lord, of that there is no doubt. He knows where he is going, and he is anticipating his new pain-free body with joy!
I have watched his wife minister to his every need, even when she appears to not have the strength to take another step. She married him over 43 years ago, and she understands what her vows meant. She is living it out before my eyes – in sickness and health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer. She has given my friend great happiness in their life together for all these years, and now she is loving him right through this, his final trial on earth. His mind is no longer functioning normally, as the cancer and the medications have taken over. But in spite of his non-communication, his wife continues to sit with him, to sing to him, to speak loving words into his ear, and he seems to receive it by sighing contentedly and relaxing. She too, knows where he is going, and as she told me on the phone yesterday… she has released her husband to go into the arms of his Lord, telling him that she will join him there later.
Take a good look at the picture. This is not a public domain graphic… this is an actual picture of my friend driving his tractor on my farm. It was taken on September 3, 2011. I remember the day well, because of my accident. While I was loading wood into the bucket on the tractor, I accidentally stepped into a deep hole and wrenched my back hard. My friend was off that tractor in a heartbeat to check on my condition. He felt terrible that he couldn’t do anything to stop the accident from happening. I ended up with a herniated disc, for which I had successful surgery on October 12th. My friends’ pain started to get worse around that same time. My pain is gone today. I took my recovery for granted, while I visited my friend in the hospital. I remember telling him he was going to be up out of that hospital bed, and he and I were going to do all sorts of projects around our two small farms together. What might I have done differently if I had known that virtually 6 months to the day after this picture was taken, I would be saying goodbye to my friend?
I know that our goodbye is not forever. I also look forward to heaven when my time comes. But not because of any “good thing” I’ve ever done in my life… it’s only by the Lord’s mercy, by the blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary’s cross for me. I WILL see my friend again – in the glorious light of heaven. But for now, I will miss his laughter. I will miss his Godly advice to me. I am blessed to call myself the younger brother of a man sold out to Jesus.
My friend has lived his last several years ministering to everyone around him. He is finishing the race, and he has finished well. He is one who can truly identify with 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
This evening after work, I expect once again to grab my guitar and travel with my wife to my friend’s house 8 miles up the road from mine. I look forward to singing and lifting up the Lord’s name with my voice. I am praying that the Lord, in His great mercy, will allow my friends’ mind to receive the music, and to let it comfort him where he is. I also pray that the Lord would allow my friend to live long enough for me to bless him one more time. I can never repay the blessings my Godly friend & mentor has poured into my life.
Pray for me please. My heart hurts.
**UPDATE 2/27/2012** Ron passed into eternity just prior to 4am EST. He is now safe in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus. He has been given his new body, and we know that he isn’t in pain anymore. We rejoice in his homecoming, and we know that we will see him again. What a joyful reunion that will be!
(This article originally posted at AwesomeHusbands.org on 2/24/2012)