He Is Faithful
T hree years ago today my grandma passed away to be with the Lord. It fills me with emotion to think back to that time and how events unfolded that weekend. It left me convinced that there are no coincidences in life, nothing that happens by chance, and that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, God is with us and remains faithful.
For me weekends start on Friday nights and that Friday night after work I made the familiar drive from Shropshire up to Yorkshire, just over 140 miles door-to-door.
I'd been meaning to make the trip for some time but something always seemed to come up that hampered my plans. (Nothing hampers God's plans!)
On arrival my mum informed me that my grandma was in hospital, very poorly with Cancer. She had lung cancer but now also had stomach cancer. As my mum said that, I heard the Lord say to me "tomorrow is the last time that you will see your grandma". Whoa!
Inwardly I was shocked but did not share what the Lord had said to me as I needed to pray about it. I'm not phased by sickness because I know the Lord can deal with that but this prediction of my future was something else.
My mum and I agreed that we would visit my grandma in hospital the next day. I went upstairs to pray.
My pastor had given me advice once that when anything significant happened that I should expect to pray multiple times about it to be sure on how to react. This advice was certainly appropriate right now and is advice that has always stuck with me.
I prayed but must admit to being confused. I wanted to pray for healing but what God said implied that wasn't going to happen so I decided to sleep on it.
The next day we drove into Hull to the hospital. My grandma was in a small four-bed ward and was as feisty as ever. She seemed her usual self and didn't want to be in the hospital at all but rather at home.
She showed me a letter which explained her diagnosis. I can't remember the exact words but it didn't make for good reading. She clearly accepted that her days were numbered and wanted very much to be at home.
My mum questioned how practical it would be for my grandma to go home asking how she thought she would cope. (I don't think my mum really latched on to my grandma's intention to merely go home to die. That was all she wanted. Coping with being at home ultimately didn't matter.)
My mum was also concerned that my grandma hadn't made a will. She asked my grandma who she wanted to betrothe gifts to, noting her answers on the back of an envelope and suggested we would come back tomorrow with it all formally written up so that she could sign her will and have it witnessed. My grandma was okay with that.
In between the questions my mum was asking about bethrothals I asked my grandma if she ever prayed when she was alone in the hospital. She said she did.
I was pleased as I wasn't totally sure where my grandma stood with God. She would always avoid talking about it but I knew she had a small bible and prayer book close to her armchair at home.
I told her that the bible says that Jesus prepares a place for us in heaven and then personally comes to receive us into that place when we die (John 14). My grandma responded in agreement telling me that she had seen Him. I was so pleased for her. Yay!
A Sweet Goodbye
We finally got to the end of visiting time. My grandma kissed me on the lips and then shocked my mum by hugging her. Not something she would normally do at all. My mum even remarked about it to me afterwards. I secretly knew why.
We drove home and went straight into the town to buy a do-it-yourself will which my mum duly transcribed from her envelope notes that evening.
The Next Day
The next day my mum stayed at home and me and my dad went back to the hospital. It was raining.
The nurse at reception hesitated and asked us to accompany her into a side room and sit down. Another nurse then arrived and gave us the news that unfortunately, despite having had a good breakfast earlier that morning, my grandma had taken a turn for the worse and passed away.
My dad, having spent most of his working life in hospitals by profession, started saying something in response but I'm not really sure what he said. Instead I heard the Lord say to me "I am faithful".
I was blown away.
He Is Faithful
I've long known that God uses death with a purpose and I knew that God used this situation to personally teach me (and others) a few things.
The nurses asked me if I was okay and said I looked shocked. I said I was indeed shocked and then told them that I was a Christian and witnessed to them in front of my dad (someone else who avoids talking about my faith) exactly what God had told me, and how it all worked out.
I was reminded just how merciful God is. Even though I'd seen it before in how God gave my uncle, a self-confessed atheist, a wonderful last meal in hospital, surrounded by all his family before he passed away.
I had often wondered, living so far away in Shropshire, how I would receive the news about my grandma dying and whether I would have had the chance to speak or be with her close to it happening. But God was merciful to me. He arranged everything and gave me the chance to be there to say goodbye in person. He also gave me advanced warning of what would happen.
He was merciful to my grandma too, she didn't have to die alone.
I also realised that God was building my faith. I was living out something that would become a testimony in time to come. Throughout the whole experience God was faithful to me. He never left me and went through the whole thing with me. To Him be the glory forever.
23rd July, 2020