New Year's Day, 1990. A knock on the door awakened me. When I saw my friend
standing on the front porch, I knew something was wrong.
"Karen, your mother couldn't get through to you on your phone, so she called me."
"What's the matter?" I asked, pulling my robe tighter around me.
She just looked at me, and I knew. "It's daddy, isn't it? Daddy's dead!"
I had just talked to Mom the day before, and Daddy was supposed to be going home from the hospital. His procedure had been fairly routine, and he was doing fine. Now I learned that he'd had a massive heart attack during the night.
In the rush of dressing and packing for the trip back home, the realization hit me. God, You didn't answer my prayer!
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy and Linda and Mikey and Patti. And please save Daddy, so he can go to heaven with us. Amen."
I prayed that prayer nightly from the time I was five years old. Over the years, I added things from time to time, but the basics stayed the same right into my teen years when I started praying "homemade" prayers. Even when I discarded my childhood "Now I lay me down" prayer, one thing stayed the same - the very first thing I ever remember asking God for, "Please, save my dad."
When I was around twenty-four, the mother of a three-year-old son, I finally summoned the courage to address the issue face to face. Well, not exactly face-to-face. I didn't have that much nerve! My dad was a seventeen-year-old Marine during World War II, and then had a career in the Air Force, serving a stint as a drill instructor in boot camp. He was not a "Father Knows Best" kind of dad who gave lots of hugs and called me "Kitten." He was a very intimidating man.
Yes, I was much too scared of Daddy to have a sit-down conversation about his relationship (or lack of one) with God. So I took a different route. I wrote him a letter.
I expressed the things I admired and appreciated about him. Then I told him the main thing I had missed growing up was not having him attend church with our family. Finally, I alluded to my desire to see my little boy's grandpa make arrangements to spend eternity with his family. Daddy appreciated my letter and responded favorably, but no reference was made to eternal matters.
However, my mother shared something with me. She told me when I was around five, some friends were praying with Mom one evening after church for Daddy to be saved. The Lord "spoke" to Mom, assuring her that as she lived a faithful life for God, she would be blessed to see her husband saved one day. Knowing God's faithfulness, Mom had stood on that promise ever since. Her story bolstered my faith, too, as I continued to pray for my father.
Now here we were thirty-four years after Mom had received her assurance, thirty-four years after a little girl started praying for her daddy, and what were we doing? Making funeral arrangements, receiving visitors, helping all the grandchildren put their little farewell notes into the casket with their grandpa. All I could think was, God, You didn't answer my prayer!
The day before the funeral, Mom sat on the couch beside me. "Karen, Bro. McKay came to see me." He was a retired minister who attended Mom's church. "He told me that he visited your dad in the hospital after I left the other night."
She went on to say that they talked about the Lord, and before Bro. McKay left, Daddy prayed the sinner's prayer with him and gave his heart to the Lord!
At Mom's request, my brother and sisters and I, along with a couple of our spouses and some of the older grandchildren, sang and taped Mom's favorite song to be played at Daddy's funeral. As the recorded song played, the words touched my heart. "Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father.great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."
And all I could think was, Thank You, God! You answered my prayer!
Karen DeLoach copyright 2002 firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen lives in Statesboro, Georgia, with her husband Bill. They are the proud parents of three sons - Andrew, Jonathon, and Dane. Karen is the author of "Thirty-One Years and a Stumble," the story of God's healing of her marriage. Her interests include genealogy (she's compiled a genealogy book for both the Harpers and the DeLoaches), producing plays for her community and church, doing crossword puzzles, and fighting "Arthur-itis" (sometimes losing the battle!). Her previous stories on 2theHeart are "Snapshots of Memories" and "My Anchor Holds," which can be seen in the archives. Http://karendeloach.tripod.com
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