When I was very young my father would hold my hand when taking me for a walk. While holding his hand I knew beyond any question that I was safe: there was nothing in the world that could harm me. As I grew older this feeling of security faded, of course, and I even forgot that I had ever experienced it.
When I became a Christian in 1978 and realised that I also had a Father in heaven, my first experience of him brought the forgotten feelings of early childhood security flooding back. It was as if a hand reached from heaven and took mine; once again I knew there was nothing in the world that could harm me.
My father died in 1993. A few months before, I had been visiting my parents and he had told me that he did not know what would happen to him when he died. He knew I was a Christian and I had talked to him about my faith, but I was still looking for a chance to talk to him some more; my mouth opened but nothing came out – he walked out of the room with me still poised to say something. Later, when I received the phone call that he had had a heart attack, I was furious at myself for missing the opportunity I had prayed for. He spent a week in a coma and it seemed unlikely he would recover, so I returned to the UK to be with him.
I arrived at the hospital with my mother at about 5:00 pm. The nurses told me that even though he was in a coma, I should try to speak to him, so I started reading to him from the Psalms. At round 5:30 I read John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life – and said “Dad, Jesus died for you, all you have to do is accept his free gift of salvation”. He took one more breath and died.
Although I felt waves of grief, underneath the grief was the same security I felt when, as a child, I held his hand; I knew that he was with Jesus and that I would see him again.
I believe my father’s love for me was so strong that, even though in a coma, he managed to hold on to life for a week until I arrived because he wanted me to know that he had eternal life: he didn’t want me to worry about him.
My Father’s love for me was so strong that he gave his only Son so that I would not have to die and face the consequences of my sin. Neither would my father.