“I'll be at the specialist's tomorrow,” he said. “I'm praying that God will sort out whatever this is that's wrong with me.”
Were his godly prayers ignored? Or the prayers of the elders who anointed him? Less than a year later, after the dreadful disease mesothelioma had destroyed his body, he died an agonizing death.
Three days before his death, he said “I am afraid of death. they tell us that we shouldn't be. But I am afraid of the process of death. Will it be more painful than what I have now? But I am not afraid of what is beyond death. Because I know that God has saved me. In a short while, I will have no more pain.”
That evening – a Thursday – he sank into a coma. He experienced no more pain until his death on the Sunday. Did the devil have the victory? Of course not. Like Job, Dad suffered at the hands of Satan in his body, but only so far as God permitted. Mum told me that Dad briefly opened his eyes early on Sunday morning. She couldn't hear him clearly, but thinks he said “Can you see Jesus?” I don't know what to make of that, to be honest, but I do know that Dad is with Him now. The devil thinks he has a victory. Dad died on the Sunday – on the Tuesday, the devil caused planes to crash into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the countryside near Philadelphia. Did the devil have the victory then? There is suffering in this life, but God never turns His back on His saints.
Dad was trained as an engineer. He learned his craft in the days before easy metric units of joules and grams. The old pounds and British Thermal Units required complex math. But he did not have his certificate on display. Mum and I found that in the attic, after he had gone, and we framed it. Now that Mum has gone to join him, I have the certificate. Dad was a control engineer at the local power station, in the days before computer control, when maintaining the output voltage and frequency required constant monitoring, rapid slide rule calculation and as much skill as science. But there was never an outage on Dad's watch. He had no medals – other than long service awards – but his colleagues later testified that there was no one that they would rather work for than the quiet working-class gentleman from Mossley.
Even when I was saved, I was still an arrogant teenager. How would any other father have reacted, when his son insisted that the religion he had followed from childhood was dead? But Dad looked into all these things, with calm, quiet authority. He got hold of a Bible and read it avidly every day, from that point on, until two weeks before his death, when, in physical weakness, he had to ask Mum to read it to him. It only took him a couple of days to say “Son, what you say is right. I know Jesus as my Savior.” No trumpets, no marching bands and insufficient enthusiasm from a newly saved boy. But, now I am middle-aged myself, and I look back – Wow! I wish I had one tenth of Dad's humility, strength of character and faith.
If your dad is still alive, don't forget to tell him you love him. I know – British men don't tell their dads that they love them. Well, just make sure that he knows it anyway. If he isn't yet saved, then witness to him. Do it respectfully – I didn't, but fortunately God is Sovereign and used my arrogant words for His glory to save my Dad. And if your Dad is saved, then listen to him. If he is a quiet engineer, instead of a learned theologian, you will find that his wisdom is none the less, and may be all the more.