I remember learning a Bible verse when I was a little girl, "our times are in your hands." Of course at the moment I cannot remember exactly where in the Bible the verse can be found. Today we made the long trip to Houston and back again to visit my husband's father and his wife. My father-in-law is seriously ill and for the first time as he nears 90 he looks like an old man. He is in pain and not thinking clearly, and his wife is struggling to care for him. My husband seems to be taking this better than my sons at this point. They are worried about their grandfather, for all that he has not made a lot of effort to spend much time with them. He has made some effort over the years. My prayer partners are praying for the doctors to figure out what is wrong with him. His wife hopes once they figure it out, they will be able to make him better. My husband is not so sure. Probably that comes from being a doctor himself.
Coincidentally, not long ago I had a conversation with my own father about death. He will be 85 this year and is slowing down considerably. I've been amazed at how well he has coped with blindness these last few years, but his body is slowing down and he seems to miss my mom more with each passing year, even though she's been gone for 15 years now. Perhaps as the discomfort of pregnancy eventually makes labor and delivery seem less terrifying, so our aging bodies eventually make the promise of what a good pastor friend calls "the next adventure" seem less frightening.
I'm glad I remember the verse from my childhood, and I'm even more glad that I know in the depths of my soul that my times are indeed in God's hands. As one seminary professor said, they are good hands, you know. I hope I can remember that when it's my time to move on to the next adventure. As I told my dad, as my body continues to age, sometimes not at all gracefully, I am slowly learning that at some point it will not be such a bad thing to lay down this wonderful life for the one to come. I think that's what my dad was trying in his oblique way to tell me himself.
Grace and Peace,