I returned yesterday from Decorah, Iowa. I received a call November 13th that I both dreaded and welcomed, “your Dad is actively dying.” They were shocking words, yet expected as my Dad was in hospice and almost 99 years old. I had to make quick arrangements for air, ground transportation and hotel, but God’s hand was visible as things opened up easily and effortlessly at the last minute.
As my Dad had rallied so many times in the past since my Mom transitioned in 2008, I secretly hoped that I would walk in his room and he would be sitting up with his perpetual smile. All of Decorah knew my Dad as “Hap” short for “Happy” as his positive attitude and smile was contagious and ever-present. Everyone knew and loved Hap!
My Dad loved the outdoors. He greeted all with his famous smile as he walked all over town, the many trails, nature paths and parks, rode his bike and motorcycle, hunted, fished, gardened, and played golf until he was 92. He got kicked out of hospice three or four times because he recovered from terminal events.
When he was only 19 he was run over by a tractor on the family farm and should have died; they couldn’t get him into town because of the severity of his injuries. A man showed up at the door with a Gospel of John and told Dad that if he read it he would live. My Dad recovered and no one ever saw the unknown man again as most likely it was an angel in disguise. My Dad became a man of strong faith, character and the fullness of joy that has nothing to do with outward circumstances and everything to do with knowing and directly experiencing the Love of God.
One thing I know for sure: there is no death in Christ Jesus; there is only dropping the physical body and transition into a new form. Surrounded by family in my Dad’s last hours, we witnessed the peace that surpasses all understanding. We sang hymns and spiritual songs and even though my Dad seemed to be unconscious he heard every word and even moved his mouth as though he was attempting to sing certain verses or words.
My fifteen month old granddaughter, Elizabeth Hope, sat in her Mom’s lap signing Jesus Loves Me as we all sang Dad into heaven. “And a little child shall lead them…” He seemed to mouth the words to the song, then as his breathing changed to intermittent, we saw him make four gentle, loving kissing motions with his lips; possibly holy kisses as he greeted Jesus, angels or loved ones in heaven.
Then I became overwhelmed with the coming of the Presence of the Spirit of God as the atmosphere shifted in the room. My body trembled as a mighty rushing wind filled and uplifted me so much I thought I might fly away. I grabbed my brother’s arm as I felt like I might be taken up as well. Then I felt a rush of spirit whoosh up inside me and I saw my Dad’s chin tilt upward with a final breath as I felt the spirit leave his physical body…
It was very sacred, holy and precious to be in the presence of the Spirit of God and to witness my Dad’s spirit go to heaven accompanied by heavenly host. I was also extremely blessed and honored to spend the last night of Dad’s life by his bedside reading the bible out loud and praying and singing and telling him how much he was loved and appreciated. It was a “good death” and the assurance that he did not die but merely changed form, was so comforting.
During the last hour, I heard the audible words, “Glory Divine” and asked my sister if she heard it, but no one had. My Father passed around 12:35pm. At 3:33 am in my hotel room I was awakened by the same audible words, “Glory Divine” and then the explanation, with the first line of the hymn, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; oh what a foretaste of Glory divine.” I started to cry at the gentle, tender, loving care that God and the angels were making sure I knew, understood and was assured as my Dad was assured. My Dad was given a foretaste of Glory before he transitioned. Other words of the hymn they used to convey what was transpiring in his last hours: “perfect delight; visions of rapture; angels descending bringing whispers of love; all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blessed; filled with his Goodness, lost in his Love.” All these things I was able to witness, feel and experience during my Dad’s transition. What a sacred honor; what a blessing! There is truly no death when we are in Christ in God!
In Christ, God is in us here on earth and we are in God. When we drop the physical body we are still in God, surrounded by Love, enfolded in Love, filled with Love, and radiating Love; yet on a grander, majestic, awe-inspiring, glory-filled, divine level, spiritual realm or heavenly dimension!
Blessed Assurance by Francis J. Crosby (1873)
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”
My Dad truly was filled with God’s Goodness and I am honored to be witness to such a peaceful, love-infused, spirit-filled passage from life into an eternal Life of glory! Glory Divine!!!!