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.