I only come to tell my dad Happy Birthday.
But as I stare at his grave, old thoughts rush.
Oh, Dad, you've missed so much--a grandson you never knew who bears your name, grandchildren growing up, developing distinct personalities, learning to drive, going to college...confirmations, graduations, baptisms...and we've missed you, your presence, your humor, your laugh. If only you could see who they are becoming. You'd be proud. You'd watch and you'd chuckle.
Do you see them?
The familiar doubt creeps in.
Oh, Lord, I pray he's in heaven with You.
Why do I vacillate on this?
My mind searches for a marker to link my father's salvation to and recalls a vivid picture. Dad reclines in a chair, chemotherapy drugs dripping into his veins. He is reading some papers I gave him about how to know if you're going to heaven. We discussed it the week before and I knew he didn't get the assurance he was needing (nor did I). As he shuffles to the next page, he peers over his glasses and says, "I think I asked the right person this question." I knew the words that filled the pages, things like "if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9) and "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12) and "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). He finishes reading and as we talk some more I see a peace come over him I have never seen before.
So why do I still wonder?
I stare at the grave and say it again.
Lord, I pray he's in heaven with You.
I close my eyes, breathe deeply and wait for an answer.
The sunshine warms my face. A gentle breeze blows. The aroma of autumn fills the air.
And I wait.
Then a thought pops into my head. It's okay.
But, Lord, is that me or is it You? How do I make sure I'm not telling myself what I want to hear?
THAT again?! Why is that always the answer?
Trust My Word.
If you can't trust My Word, what else do you have? How can anything you believe be true?
Of course. You're right, Lord. I have to accept it. Your Word is my only foundation. He did believe in Your name. He did confess You as Lord and believe in his heart You were raised from the dead. He did believe in You, Lord Jesus Christ.
I open my eyes, bend down and run my fingers over his nameplate.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Give Jesus a hug from me.
Photo Credit: Celine