I remember the last conversation I had with my dad like it was yesterday. He was in the hospital for complications that arose from his long battle with brain tumors. He and I had a few moments together alone and the silence was deafening as we thought of ways to ignore the obvious. He mentioned how hard it all was and that it was only getting increasingly difficult each day. Our conversation was short and bittersweet as we held hands and focused on using words that mattered. I don’t remember everything that was said, but I do remember the Bible verse that he pointed me to as our conversation ended.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”- Philippians 1:21
I thought I understood this verse until I was faced with the exact representation of what it actually means. My dad, a devoted follower of Jesus, was dying too young. And I, his naïve daughter, couldn’t believe that dying could actually be better than living. Until that moment.
Over the next few days his condition worsened and word got out among my dad’s piano students, colleagues, friends, and family that he was in the hospital. To count the number of people that came to visit and tell him of his impact on their lives would be far from accurate because there were so many. His life truly had been a life set apart for Christ with a farther reach then he will ever know. He couldn’t say thank you or offer anything in return those last few hours. All he could do was receive the love being poured out on him by the lives that were forever changed because of his Jesus centered calling.
As I reflect on the six year anniversary of his death today, I am reminded of what those last words to me really meant. It’s so simple, isn’t it? We have a choice each day to live for a purpose far beyond ourselves. As my dad’s hospital bed was surrounded by people until the very end, I, too, should aim to reach as many people (if not more) for the great cause of Christ. There is no reason to live a self-centered life when there are so many that desperately need the love that only Jesus can give. God used my dad’s fun and kind personality to draw people into His one-of-a-kind love and He wants to use me too.
The thing that I’m left to ponder is the dying part. We get to represent Christ from a limited standpoint while on this earth. But we get to experience Christ in the most intimate way possible once we leave this earth. My dad understood this. And, even though it’s hard for me to live without him, I know that I, too, being a follower of Christ, will enjoy this truth one day as well. We are never without hope- even in the wake of death.
God’s grace always shows up when we aren’t looking for it. That solemn day, my dad was the chosen deliverer of grace to a broken girl who had no idea just how much she needed it. Amazing.