The prayer offered to God in the morning during your quiet time is the key that unlocks the door of the day. Any athlete knows that it is the start that ensures a good finish.
Written by Amy Eickhoff—
My beloved father died unexpectedly two years ago in February. While on the tennis courts, reaching to make a shot, he tripped and fell, gaining a goose egg on his forehead. My mom transitioned Dad to a bench, where they discussed the joy they were having playing tennis with my brother and his family. Mom recalls some of Dad’s last words: “I’m having so much fun!” and, “Did I make the shot?”
Shortly thereafter, Dad became disoriented, and my mom rushed him to an emergency room. After a quick assessment, he was flown to a local trauma center. He slipped into a coma and was diagnosed with a massive brain bleed. The surgeons were unable to reverse his condition, and they put Dad on life support until our family could gather by his bedside.
It was a sunny, wintry Saturday afternoon in Minnesota that February 10th when I received the news that my dad had fallen. By evening all hopes of his recovering had vanished, and I was told I needed to get to Arizona ASAP. My siblings were able to secure seats on flights that left immediately, but my husband, myself and some of our children wouldn’t be flying until the next morning. Although I was 53 years old, my little-girl heart wept for her daddy. I recalled contemplating his death throughout my childhood and the fears of being unable to survive it. What’s remarkable to me now is how God stepped into my sorrow, bringing overwhelming peace. I experienced it in a tangible way by actually sleeping that night. This unusual rest and refreshment, when I should have been anxious and stressed, was one of the first ways God manifested His Spirit to me during my father’s passing.
We arrived at the hospital in the early afternoon. All of us children gathered around, praying, sharing joy-filled memories, reading Scripture together. It was a bittersweet time. Each of us were in tears as we said our goodbyes. By evening, my mom felt she wasn’t ready to discontinue life support, so we agreed to wait until the next morning. My siblings had spent the previous night by my dad’s bedside, and they were emotionally and physically exhausted. Since I was more rested, I volunteered to stay at the hospital. Alone with Dad, Mom, and my daughter Ali, we spent a peaceful and loving night together, sensing God’s presence.
This was another sweet gift. It gave me time to process, pray, and say a quiet goodbye. Is it strange to relate that I have only sweet memories and praises from my dear father’s farewell?
The most precious gift came that next morning. My siblings were back at the hospital, and the doctors had disconnected life support. As my dad struggled through each breath, I was at the top of the bed, my head bent over his, forehead to forehead. I was praying, with both hands on each of his cheeks. I happened to be asking God, “How long?”…when I felt my dad’s spirit leave. Instantly, he was no longer on earth, but I knew with absolute certainty that he was alive.
Dad’s favorite Bible verse is Jesus’ words in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” My father knew and loved Jesus on earth, and he was now with Jesus, living a full, abundant, eternal life. O Death, where is your sting?
When Colleen asked me to prayerfully consider joining the Ruby Buckle team, I instantly said, “Yes!” I had already been praying and asking God to bring the ministry He wanted for me. As we met together as a team and contemplated the role and vision of Ruby Buckle, I started seeing parallels and connections only God could orchestrate.
We saw Ruby Buckle as a women-focused, gospel-sharing, Gideon-type ministry, and as we envisioned this ministry with joy, I remembered that Dad was a Gideon! I recognized the seeds of sharing the gospel with others that my father had planted in my life. This connection increased my love and respect for my dad’s passion to reach the lost and lonely for Jesus. I share those passions of his. His strong faith and certainty that God is who He says He is – and that the Bible is truth for all time – are the foundations of my life. One day I will be looking death in the face, and with all my heart, I know: Death, for me, for my dad, and for all who know Jesus as Savior, has no real sting. We praise you, Lord!
Before Dad’s funeral, we received a call from the hospital asking if we wanted the clothing my dad was wearing during his accident. Surprisingly (or maybe not), God had another sweet gift. The T-shirt my dad had chosen for his final day on earth had a cross in the middle with this saying: “My life is in Your Hands.”
Dad, I agree. Let’s tell the world!