Days before, family had come to town to visit him–to say their good-byes, as he laid there dying. His long lanky shriveled body lay under the blankets of his twin electronic bed. He refused food, water or an I.V. for nourishment. He said he was ready.
That seemed to give others a sense of peace, but not me.
Ready? What does that mean for a man of little faith?
I tried to ignore it and to accept that this was the cycle of life and it was just his time. I told myself that his own sons knew better than I–the hormonal granddaughter-in-law, growing a baby in her womb, who had only met this man a few years before. I hadn't been very comfortable around the man either, the man who grumbled over matters rather than offering his wisdom and blessing.
I tried but days later, one Saturday morning, I felt overwhelmingly compelled to go. I gave every excuse under the sun not to. Why would I go without my husband and small child? What would I say? It was a completely foreign thought and well out of my comfort zone.
And so I decided to go exercise instead–to try to rationalize those thoughts away.
Yet when I got to the gym, I could not so much as run in place without feeling the need to get somewhere. I was antsy. I was driven. I was compelled to go.
Within five minutes of arriving at the gym, I was on my way out the door again and driving to the nursing home that housed my grandfather-in-law.
I walked in. He look surprised. He could not speak well anymore, dying of dehydration. I can't remember my words exactly, but I remember asking how he was and if he was ready. He nodded his head, yes.
I felt a flood coming and so I quickly asked if he believed.
He said, just above a whisper, "Sort of."
I remember that that wasn't enough for me and he attempted to change the subject with the little he could utter and asked if his son, my father-in-law, made it off okay, back home...but the rain pored just then and I said I was sorry and I brought the topic right back to where I had left off–that I needed him to believe because I wanted to see him again in heaven. I sniffled and caught my breath.
And I felt an overwhelming amount of love for that man laying there. I wiped my tears and said I wanted to hold his hand, but I was fighting a cold that I didn't want to give him.
He held his hand out anyway, so I took his warm hand in mine and I didn't know what to say next so I didn't say anything. I just held his hand. And then I said I should probably go.
He looked me in the eye and whispered, "Thank you."
I smiled and I didn't want to leave, but I knew it was time. And so I released his hand and he whispered again, "Thank you."
I left his room and went straight to the nurses station and asked for some hand sanitizer because I was fighting a cold. Then I walked right back to his room. He looked surprised.
I took his hand, the hand I had held, and rubbed the sanitizer over it. Then he lifted his other hand and so I rubbed sanitizer on that hand, too. I looked at him again and said good-bye.
He looked me in the eye and most sincerely whispered for the third time, "Thank you."
I walked away, then stopped at the door, turned and waved. He lifted a hand and waved back.
Then I went home, walked straight into my husband's arms and wept.
I told him where I had been and I wept because I didn't feel like I had done enough.
He said I did more than I knew.
I had prayed on my way to the nursing home that I would see my husband's grandfather through Jesus' eyes and not my own. And what I saw had little to do with physical sight at all. When I left, I felt inseparable. Our family was heading out of town the next day and I didn't want to go. I didn't want to miss a day to be there with him.
That was the last day I saw him and am told the last day he had been able to utter any words.
He died the following Tuesday night and I don't know what happened between Saturday and Tuesday, but I have a hunch that the man I saw in those fifteen minutes saw for the first time, a glimmer of light.
I'll never know for sure this side of heaven if my offering was enough, but it wasn't up to me to do or be enough. It was up to me to simply show up. And the rest, up to Jesus.
It's Jesus who makes the blind see and the lost found.
And it's Jesus who makes our small offerings–even fifteen minutes worth–enough.
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