Touched by a Virtual Stranger
I officiated at a funeral today for a man whom I had visited in the hospital but did not have a chance to know well.
As I visited with his family to prepare for the funeral, two things genuinely touched my heart.
One was a story that his daughter told of her father’s last moments. She had been at the hospital for several days, and had been assured that her father was doing well enough for her to go home and get some rest. He took a turn for the worse, however, and she had to rush back to the hospital. When she was alerted to her father’s condition, she told the nurse to tell her dad not to cross to the other side until she could get back to the hospital. He did wait. When she arrived, her father was alone in his room, but was carrying on a conversation and reaching for someone. In a few minutes, he came around and was lucid. The daughter asked him to whom he had been speaking. He said, “My Jesus. He was there with Mama and [an old friend].” The daughter thought it might be the medicine talking, so she probed further. He insisted, “No, I am not confused. I was talking to my Jesus.” Then, a short time later, he said, “They were in the light. I want to go back there.” He closed his eyes, and his daughter said good-bye to him as he said good-bye to this earthly life.
The other thing that touched me was a prayer that he had found on the internet. His daughter assured me that he prayed it several times every day. When he went to the hospital, it had been misplaced, and he was upset until it was found. It read:
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for bestowing on me the gift of life. You know everything that has affected me physically, emotionally, spiritually and all my inmost experiences of mind and heart that have formed me into the person that I am now.
Forgive me, Lord, for any times that I have failed You, myself or others. I forgive anyone who has failed or hurt me. Help me now to see that my illness has an important part to play in bringing me to the fullness of the person You have destined me to be. Don’t let me lose or miss anything that You want to do through it to complete my life on earth, and make me ready for eternal life with You in heaven.
I renounce any rebellion or fear. Though I do not quite understand Your way of directing me right now, I wish to let go of any possessiveness over my life. I surrender all the details of my present situation into Your loving care.
Since I cannot now pray as well as I would wish, I ask You to accept instead each breath I draw as an act of love and trust in You. You are my Savior, and I lean upon Your loving Heart with the peace of a little child in its father’s arms. I know You will not forsake me. I love You, dearest Lord! Amen.”
At the funeral, I spoke of the importance of faith. I urged everyone who did not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ to join in praying that prayer sincerely.
Father, I am so grateful that you have given me faith in Your Son. I am unworthy, I know, but I love the security of belonging to you despite my self, despite my sin. I love you for your grace and mercy, for showing kindness to the undeserving. I, too, renounce any rebellion and fear. I, too, offer you every breath that you have given me back to you as a gift of love and trust in you. I, too, ask for your forgiveness and for your grace to forgive. You are my God. You are my Savior. You are my one true Love and my Life. Make the life you have given me an unending anthem of your praise.