He looked more dead than alive gasping for breath with oxygen cannulas in his nose. His eyes were closed as he lay in his hospital bed at home in his own bedroom. He was surrounded by his wife and sweetheart of 68 years, his five hugely loved children and their equally loved spouses along with a couple of grandchildren. We were all singing hymns. One grandson played his violin.
My sister and I stood on either side of him - our deeply loved and respected father. Each of us had a hand on his arm.
Someone requested "Rock of Ages." We began to sing. It was NO angel chorus! Except for two or three, none of us would ever be mistaken for a singer but we were all singing from our hearts. Almost from the first word my dear Daddy mouthed the words to each verse. He could hardly speak so we could understand him but he could sing "silently" with us. It was more than obvious that the words were resonating with his heart and his deep, deep love of Jesus, the Rock of Ages. He knew better than we did that his time on earth was drawing to a close. His sights were more on heaven that on this world.
It brings to mind Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord):
O my soul, O my soul - Worship His holy name! Sing like never before, O my soul! ...
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me; let me be singing when the evening comes!
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O my soul, worship His holy name!
Sing like never before, O my soul! I'll worship Your holy name!
You're rich in love and You're slow to anger; Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing - Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find ...
And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending - ten thousand years and then forevermore!
... I'll worship Your holy name, Lord! I'll worship Your holy name.
Sing like never before, O my soul. I'll worship Your holy name, Jesus.
I'll worship Your holy name, sing like never before ... I'll worship Your holy name!
I looked down into that dear, dear face and saw something I had almost never seen there before - there were tears leaking out of the corner of each eye. He wasn't crying for himself. His tears were for me and all of us he was leaving behind. He knew he faced a far better place where he truly and forever would be worshipping his Jesus. He also just had to know what a huge hole in my heart his leaving would make. We all agree it's very hard to imagine a world without him but life goes on even when there is loss and pain and we too worship Your holy name Jesus!
In the face of dying, he worshipped with us. In the face of dying, he taught us the last great lesson: how to die well!