My dad’s health was failing but I admit I was taken by surprise the day he died.

In the weeks prior to his death we had made plans to visit our condo on a lake. Dad had indicated he wanted to be there on opening day (fishing) and spend a weekend with me and my son.

But about ten days before our trip he was admitted to a hospital. He had an emergency surgery and the doctors said he should be fine after a few days recovery. The recovery took a few more days than expected and dad developed a bladder problem.

On a Monday afternoon he called me and said he was having a bad time of it. After my appointments were over I went to the hospital to see how he was doing.

Johannes 11 Gelooft u dit

I found him in a great deal of pain. For some reason he could not urinate. Finally, the nurses received doctor’s approval and they did a catheter. Dad’s relief was instantly noticeable although he had been exhausted by the ordeal.

It had taken my parents quite some time to accept my conversion to evangelical Christianity from a nominal Catholicism. My parents seemed to take some of that personally as if they had failed in some way. In their defense I was a jerk about it from time to time as I began to realize there is a difference in what each type church teaches about the gospel.

Over the years things got better and we were able to have rational discussions regarding the nature of the gospel. This was especially true after I had entered the ministry and gone to Bible school.

Eventually, I came to believe that my parents accepted that salvation is of the Lord and that it is a gift and that it is received by grace through faith {in Christ] and not of one’s own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

But having said that neither of them wished to leave the Catholic Church which always left me wondering if they truly understood the gospel and how a proper understanding of it shattered various Catholic traditions.

It meant that when I had opportunity I would try to speak to them again about the nature of the gospel.

In my mom’s case I had the opportunity to speak to her on her death bed. She could not speak but could squeeze my hand. I asked her if she was ready to be with the Jesus and if she trusted in him alone for her salvation and she squeezed by hand once for yes. A few days later she lost even that ability and died shortly there after.

I remember mom telling me once that “Martin Luther was right.” Quite a remarkable statement from a woman raised in Polish-German Catholic tradition.

After my father had gained relief from the catheter I stuck around for a while to make sure he was okay. We made a couple of jokes, talked about our plans and I told him I’d be back the following the day before my appointments to see how he was.

I noticed his small Catholic Bible on his hospital night stand and asked him if I could read a little Scripture to him. For whatever reason I felt compelled to go to John 11 and the story of Lazarus rising from the dead. I told dad that John 11 was one  of my favorite passages. I paused after reading John 11:25-27:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27 ESV)

I had no reason to think dad was going to die that night but felt compelled to ask him one more time if he believed the statements.

Having been down this road before with many a father-son talk under our belts my dad said to me with his impatient voice, “of course I believe that” as if to say how many times do I have to tell you.

Frankly, I just had to smile and as I did he softened realizing that I was asking because I loved him. I left him promising to see him  the next day and it was about 11:00 p.m. when I left.

At about 1:30 a.m. the hospital called and told me dad was in trouble and what was his directive for trying to save him. The call woke me up and at first I thought I was dreaming. Then I  thought it odd that they were asking me what to do since dad had filled out a prime directive. His wishes were that if he would recover then try to save him and that’s what I repeated. They told me to come to the hospital right away.

Some how I knew by the nurse’s voice that dad was already gone although I wanted to believe in that little sliver of hope that the had been able to save him.

When I arrived I was greeted by a nurse in tears who told me they could not save dad. I was struck by the fact she was in tears. It told me dad was a good patient and those that cared for him really cared for him.

Apparently he had to go to the bathroom again and they left him on a commode. When they returned he was already gone having suffered an embolism. Personally, I doubt they had tried to being him back but I also think they followed dad’s wishes. I could not hold back my tears and did not try. To this day I miss him deeply.

The nature of the gospel is not elastic. Jesus made it clear there is only one way and salvation is through Him alone (Jn. 14:6). I consider it to be huge blessing that I was able to spend time with both my parents shortly before they entered eternity.

Today is Easter Sunday and because Christ rose all those who have placed their faith in Him and in him alone well rise also and that is what makes Easter happy.