This morning, I was privileged to witness a remarkable testimony from a dying saint.
We had heard others tell of this man's faithfulness in serving God over the years. Church members told of his service as a deacon; his wife of fifty years shared how he had fed and clothed the needy. Doctors might say he suffered from MS for many years but, in reality, he thrived in spite of the disease.
Now, at 82 years of age, he is helplessly waiting to die.
Jeff and I first met Cash as he lay in the Veterans Hospital, already under hospice care. Days later, he was moved the a nursing home for the final days of his journey home. We'd stopped by to visit there several times, especially checking on his wife, Delores.
When we stopped by today, Delores was not yet there. Cash seemed restful, so we thought we'd just leave a note and go. But Cash began calling out in his weak voice, becoming a bit agitated. We didn't understand what he said, what he needed. So Jeff simply began reading Psalm 23 aloud.
At this point, the years of faithfully feeding his soul produced the most lovely fruit in this man. For even as Jeff read each verse, this dying saint would join him in finishing it, his voice faint, yet confident. This continued throughout the whole Psalm. Jeff gently held his hand to pray with him, but Cash removed his hand and placed it over the top of Jeff's, grasping it with what probably seemed a tight hold to him.
We sat with Cash a few more minutes, as he seemed to wish us to stay. When we sang Amazing Grace, he joined in as best he could, as well. When we finished, he began to say, or sing, something which sounded very much like "Alleluia". We sang that little chorus with him, as well, and he settled into peacefulness.As this man faces his final hours of life his flesh seems reluctant, yet his soul is so ready to face his Creator and Redeemer. On this side of things, we don't understand why this inward struggle. But we know that our very days are numbered by the Lord. And we read, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15 ESV).
On the way to visit Cash today, Jeff had me look up the lyrics to Amazing Grace on his phone (oh, the wonders of modern technology). The site listed a verse I had not seen before, yet it was so appropriate for our visit today. Here it is, paired with the more familiar verse which preceeds it:
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.