One of my favorite radio preachers is Ed Bousman, who broadcasts on the God Is Just A Prayer Away radio network and I get it on WLW Cincinnati 700 AM (right now at 6:30 Sunday am). This is a tough, no nonsense, "get-wet-or-not-yet" preacher who has an artistic way of putting the broadcast together. First, the theme hymn begins; then he introduces himself and the ministry, followed by "It is written: all the Churches of Christ salute you; " followed by a series of "it is written"s that feature the key verse for the sermon. Then the music stops and he reads the key verse, followed by a recitation of an appropriate hymn, during which the theme hymn restarts and comes to a conclusion. At which point he says, "And now..." followed by the sermon title and sermon. I've listened to this man since the 1980s (he started in 1962) and in trying to see if the old boy was still kicking or just getting replayed (At least as of 2007, still kicking) and learned that he took up the radio gig when he asked his congregation to "pray for something impossible" and this was his answer. Though this is all interesting, I have digressed.
This morning he was preaching on John 14: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” To put this in context, he said you have to go back to the last verse of the last chapter to see what they weren't to be troubled about. That verse is the one where Peter is told before the cock crows he will deny Jesus 3 times.
He goes on to the denouement of that scene, when the cock crows the second time, and Peter looks up and sees Jesus looking at him. (Luke 22:60-62). I have always found this, to me, the most chilling verse of the Bible. But Ed goes on to say, "But I do not have time to spend on sympathy for the great Apostle..." And my mind says, wait a sec. How can you not have sympathy for Peter here? Then I let him finish.
"...for that rooster has crowed for me, many times." OUCH. Don't you just hate proper perspective?
Then he goes on to talk about the reasons why not to lets our heart be troubled, and he breaks it down this way. "In My Father's house there are many mansions." Mansions=really nice rooms in Our Father's House. When did you feel safest? In most lives, a room in your father's house means a) you are a child; b)you are being taken care of; c) you have no real worries about the outside world- no bills, no maintenance, no 9-to-5. d) even in the worst of times, it is an oasis of safety. Sometimes, perspective is a blessing.
Which brings us to the second part of this post. Yesterday, we visited Laurie's dad at the hospital. Trying to describe this man without hurting feelings is nigh onto impossible, so let me just say this: He is a man who has had ample opportunities to truly bond with each of his five children, even after his military style treatment of them as kids; invariably, he has purposefully said something hurtful to each one when they got the closest to them in order to (or at least succeeding in) driving them away. Laurie had been the latest recipient of this: she had been making a point to call him once a week until a very hurtful- and untrue- thing he said ended all contact several months ago.
Flash forward to Friday. The man has a plethora of health problems and, sick to death of doctors, takes very little care of them. Brother Chuck ( a bigger man than I would be, BTW) assumed the mantle of checking up on him every day as he has regressed. He was found unconscious on the floor Friday and we got the call he was in bad shape. It took Laurie a real effort, but realizing that she had to do now what she could live with later, we went up to see him.
This morning, about halfway through the sermon, Chuck called again and said his respiration is down to 5. He won't eat, and hasn't in 2 weeks apparently, has pneumonia in both lungs, and his gall bladder is "basically a ball of muck." All his organs are failing (the kidney specialist came in as we were leaving) and he has had congestive heart failure for years.
I wonder how troubled his heart is. He has at least 4 Christian children (Paul and Chuck both have Minister's licences), but when you spend your life alienating everyone who should care about you, what good has it done? I told Laurie, "It's a shame to live your life so you get to this point and your kids don't even want to see you."
I wasn't unwilling to see my dad when he died; I WAS unwilling to watch it happen. It had been just him and me for the last 8 years, for better or worse. He was a dutiful Catholic insofar as going to Church every week and putting his money in the envelope; like most old-time Catholics (myself included for years), the "born again" concept was just part and parcel and not talked about. I don't pretend to know what the relationship is between Jesus and someone like that; I do know that Matt. 7:21 (21 Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.) scared the HELL out of me until I was saved. That was when MY heart ceased being troubled (on that end, at least).
Where was my dad? I don't know, and he wouldn't discuss it. At the end, long after it should have been discussed, he was only lucid about 2 minutes out of every hour. Where is Laurie's dad? Now that he might be at that same spot? Only God knows for sure.
All I can say for sure is, the opportunities were there.