It’s been a week since I’ve been able to see my Dad. (I post this because so many of you who read this blog have been so kind and faithful to ask about Dad. Your expressions of concern and especially your prayers mean more to us than we can describe. They have been and are overwhelming). When I left him to return home to Texas last week he was sleeping all the time. He was wearing a breathing mask, he was swollen in his face, and his arms, and legs. He had not spoken since the stroke and generally was not doing well.
We have received daily reports from Mona (my Dad’s wife), and they have been deeply appreciated. It would be impossible to express the gratitude that our family feels for the way she is caring for Dad. She has been at the hospital with few breaks since Dad’s stroke. She has gotten only a few well-deserved nights at her home when Dale, Missie, or I have been here to stay all night. I am honored to get to spend another night with Dad and let her get a little rest in her own bed. We are truly thankful for this godly woman and her commitment to our Dad.
So, today when I came into the room Mona, Missie (my sister for you Texas/Oklahoma folks), and Mel (my brother Dale’s wife for you Texas/Oklahoma folks) were in the room. Dad was sitting up in the bed, with his eyes wide open, looking around the room. The folks from Physical Therapy had been in today. They sat him on the side of the bed and worked with his legs for about thirty minutes.
Dad looks so much better. His swelling has gone down in his face, his arms, and his legs. He no longer wears that big breathing mask (it scarred his nose pretty bad so they now have oxygen for him). During the past week Dad has said one or two words at different times. I have not yet heard him speak, but I am convinced he wanted to talk to me this afternoon. He has smiled at me a few times since I’ve been here and I saw that beautiful twinkle in his eye when I spoke to him.
On Saturday Dad said his first complete sentence (even though he has said only a couple of words since then). Last week while Dad was in nearly a comatose state I wondered what he was thinking and what he would say if he could talk. There was a time we were not very confident that he would speak again. Even now we realize it will be slow and it will take a long time for him to speak the way he wants to speak.
So, back to his first sentence since the stroke. Mona said that Dad opened his eyes and softly said, “I can’t preach!” Dad’s first words after his stroke were focused on the same thing he was focused on before he ever had a stroke. My assumption is that if he has been conscience his thoughts have been the same during this entire time.
The same thoughts he has had for sixty years, thoughts of sharing the Good News about Jesus with others! My life has been and is spent around Preachers. Many of them are outstanding Preachers. However, I have never known a man who loves sharing the Good News with others more than my Dad. His Preaching and his life embody the spirit of evangelism like few men in our time. One other thought about all of this. Dad would not enjoy having these types of statements made about him. He is a humble man and doesn’t enjoy the spotlight. This is another area where he is unlike most Preachers I know (Would to God that more of us who Preach could emulate this characteristic).
He talks to everyone about the Gospel. He preaches everywhere he goes. Whether he will ever publicly proclaim the Gospel to large crowds of people again, as he has done so effectively for sixty years, is up to the Lord. But he will proclaim the Good News by the way he lives his life, by his demeanor, by his interaction with others, and through the thousands of Christians he has influenced. Even now, he wants to Preach, he wants to tell others.
Just as I did last time I was in town; I read Scripture to Dad, I sang one of his favorite songs to him (Lead Me to Some Soul Today), and I prayed with him. I told him he will Preach again. He smiled with that twinkle in his eye. I’m not certain if he was smiling because the singing was so bad, or because he knows that what I said was right! Yes, Dad, you can Preach, you are Preaching, and it is because of your Preaching that so many of us are Preaching!
Dear God in Heaven, thank you for this man who lies in the bed in this hospital room. Thank you for the sixty years he has dedicated to the proclamation of Your Word. Thank you for the countless lives that have been affected by his teaching. Father, help us to follow his example just as he has followed the example of Jesus. Dear God, may Your Will be accomplished in his life, and in all of ours. In the strong Name of Jesus we pray, amen!