I kneel by his recliner. Sunday afternoon sunlight warms my back.
The old farmer’s eyes shimmer when we talk about the harvest or the Twenty-Third Psalm or the first Sunday of Advent. His age-worn, red-rimmed eyes pop open wide when I tell him that, yes, our little country church found a pastor. And yes, the pastor is a God-fearing man who preaches the Gospel.
The old farmer leans his head back, sighs contentedness. I reach for his age-spotted hand on the armrest. It’s something I wouldn’t have done sitting next to him in the pew, or if I’d run into him at the post office, or even in the privacy of his simple farmhouse.
But here in the nursing home, it seems safe and right to hold hands. It seems my soul demands it of me, as if this is the best way for a thirtysomething to communicate with an eightysomething.
His eyes focus upward, like they’re cutting holes through the ceiling to find something I can’t see.
“The Lord has been with me through a lot of things,” he says, voice-box rattling and gravely. And normally, I strain to know what he’s saying. But these words hold clarity.
“Yes sir,” I say, squeezing his hand. “He sure has.”
His eyes are still on the ceiling.
“And I ‘spect He won’t leave me now either,” he says, and his eyes turn to catch mine, and now they’re cutting holes right through me, too.
“No sir,” I say. He holds my gaze. “He will never leave us or forsake us. Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
“That’s right. That’s right,” he nods. And I think he wants to make sure I really know the Truth.
I stay beside him, and wonder silently about my own mortality. For we have all been given a terminal diagnosis.
Every story line rises and falls, until the point when the plot thickens, and the truth is confirmed: the diagnosis is terminal. But the story doesn’t end with the diagnosis. Because just after the climax, comes the dénouement. It’s the great reversal, the unraveling of the plot.
There is a cure in Christ.
In Christ, we will one day find ourselves in the greatest dénouement of all time. Our bodies try to trick us, and tell us that this is all there is. But our souls cry out: This is not the end of the story!
There really is a happily-ever-after. The Hero is coming again.
This Advent, we wait. We expect. We hope against earthly hope.
Our hope is greater.
We remind one another of this in nursing homes, and church pews, and living rooms and hospital beds. We really do know how this all ends. This nonfiction story — bestseller of all time — has been penned and sealed in red. And I’ll put the Spoiler Alert right here, because I’m about to blurt out the ending:
He’s coming back again.
” … if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” — John 14:3
Photos: I sometimes doodle my Scriptures, letting the Truth sink when lead finds paper. This is my doodle of the first portion of John 14.
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Those old farmers have a knack for truth, and I think the only truth greater than our terminal diagnosis is that there is a cure. Beautiful words, Jennifer. Beautiful words.
This just slays me. There is something about being in the presence of the aging, godly ones that presses the point–it really must be true. "I think he wants to make sure I really know the Truth." Thank you for the glimpse of this God-fearing man, serving faithfully til the end of his days.
I always joke about feeling like "I'm 90" but the truth is…I know that with every aches and pains and as every part of my body starts to slow down and even break down, I know this reminds me of one step closer toward the other side of my journey. I'm sure grateful that He's been there all along, gently parting the waters so I [we] can safely and faithfully make it to the other side. It's nice that you pay a visit to them in the nursing home. A lot of our aging population are lonely. Sometimes, they are not getting the attention they need to be heard. And if the younger ones can only discover…there's so much wisdom to learn from them. Especially the ones who trusted in Him. Glory be to God! Love your doodles…God bless.
You need to post these beautiful Scripture pictures! They're amazing!
And FYI, my grandmother checked herself out of the nursing home on Monday, because she is nowhere near ready to face the Savior if it means dying.
He is more present than we realize, even now.
I like your Advent.
Thanks for your encouraging comment at the Moonboat.
I'm at a loss for words…
He Is with us, always.
The doodling is breathtaking, truth poured out in a new form.
Beautiful truth spoken in your beautiful voice.
I love this, Jennifer. It sat me in the room with you two. You wrote just the right words.
I'm pretending I didn't read the whole first part of the post.
But here's the question that lets me take an abrupt turn: Did your many rooms leave an imprint on the table?
He has written a glorious story for each of us who call Him Lord – and we all share the same ending. What inexpressible joy!
Jennifer – you have such a heart, and you put it into such beautiful words. My spirit is uplifted whenever I visit. Thank you so much.
More than anything, your words and your doodles bless me tremendously.
Hugs for your day,
I HAVE WANTED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING AND THIS HAS GIVEN ME THE COURAGE DO YOU BELIEVE THE HEALING POWER OF JESUS IS AVAILABLE TO US TODAY I HAVE BEEN READING AND IT HAS TOLD ME TO CALL ON THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH …….
Yes, Kristi. I do believe in God's healing power for us today. Thank you for having the courage to ask!
The Bible says that our God is a God who PERFORMS miracles … present-tense.
Healing comes from the same God who can feed 5,000 at once, give sight to the blind, give hearing to the deaf, turn water to wine, and raise people from the dead!
Let's pray BIG, shall we?
Oh, Jen, you are so gorgeous. Thank you for this. You just don't know.
I would buy a book of your scripture doodles.
Holding hands at the nursing home, I haven't done it in a long while. I must again soon.
sound like a good visit to me.
You make the best question marks. 🙂
and I love the doodle!!!
Jennifer, Seriously, girl, how DO you do this, write this way, every darn time I come over here? You just blow me away, every single time.
And your "doodles?" I'm with Dawn — I'd buy the book. That is one of my favorite verses (I love that I am getting to know the Bible so that I can say I even have favorite verses! How cool is that?).