I would go sit in his room, by his side, and talk to him. He would share stories of his life, as if grasping at better times. His internal thermostat had been deeply affected by his infirmity and he was always cocooned in the electric blanket my mom had bought him. It was as if his very soul had grown cold in the frigid environment of suffering and I longed for him to be warm again.
And when he was at last absent from his body and at home with the Lord, we grieved, but not as those who have no hope. And the flood of condolences came pouring in. The fruit of my parents work in faithfulness and obedience, written out in words of thankfulness and appreciation for the man my father was. And there were so many, spanning years of ministry. And I realized the legacy he left, not just in my brother and I, but in the lives of so many touched, healed, redeemed., and inspired. That willing and obedient outweighs the flaws and imperfections every time.
Isn’t that what grace is for? Isn’t that the gospel, the covering of our imperfections in his blood, making these empty vessels full of Him? Suffering carves a place out in us, and it’s in that hollow born of emptiness that He comes to fill us.
My dad was used by Christ not because he was perfect but because the imperfections pointed to a redeemer. And my dad was used mightily, of that I have no doubt.
As I lurch through this fleeting season of illness and my body feels weak and impatient for health, as my self-pitying tendencies emerge like a vulture’s vicious curved beak and talons looking to rip me apart, as I am tormented by deep body chills, I nestle deep in my dad’s old electric blanket and feel the warmth embracing me like the strong hug of a father who loves his little girl. And I realize I am enveloped in abundant grace and mercy.
God uses the poor in spirit to prove His mercy. He uses the sick to demonstrate that these bodies are dying a bit more every day and we are not home, and the longing for healing and wholeness may not come on this earth or in these broken vessels but He is at work, especially in the suffering.