It is over.
After two evening wake services, a cremation, the placement of the urn and lots of prayer, it is over. We must do now, two things. One, we must look forward with the same positive and empowered spirit as during the services, with a singular heart and mind, in diligent relentless pursuit of one thing alone – God. Two, we must look behind with a reflective, humble and thoughtful mind, to take with us all the lessons God had us learn, right up to the last day his body was on earth.
I hope to look at Number Two tonight.
After a period of about two weeks being confined in the hospital, he returned home to rest. His health deteriorated days later, and he drifted into unconsciousness. One day later, he departed.
Some of us had the privilege of speaking to him for the last time, as we saw him slip away. As his blood pressure decreased and heartbeat increased, we could see his breathing get more and more difficult. He had to take in deeper breaths of air, and hours later, those breaths became deep gasps for air. It was painful for us to watch him go, but thinking back, I realized that it was harder for him to go through the entire process of being diagnosed, receiving treatment and chemotherapy, right to the end point as he lay on his deathbed.
It has been two years since he was first diagnosed and began almost immediately to start treatment. These two years have been a long and arduous, but a worthwhile and glorious fight against cancer and spiritual woes. As I saw him lying on the bed breathing with so much difficulty, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why is he still fighting? What is he still holding on to? If I was in a similar position, I may possibly have already given up fighting. But here was a warrior, nearly three times as old as I and in so much physical pain, and yet still fighting to live, to worship God, to serve God.
He was a fighter, mum said. He had fought countless spiritual battles, and finished the race with victory. He never once laid aside his weapons because he knew the consequences for even allowing ourselves to take a break. It was this relentless fighting spirit that characterized him and his physical and spiritual battles. It was this spirit that said “Press On!” no matter what, that made him hold on to the last possible moment. And in his last moments, he still taught us important life lessons.
This champion fighting spirit is the lesson I have learned that day. He was never telling us how much pain or discomfort he was in. Instead, he was constantly using his illness as a reason to rejoice and praise God even more, for His grace is sufficient for us. Can we live such a victorious life – to hold our ground to the very last possible moment?
I remember in our old house before we moved out of Jansen Close, my brothers and I sometimes attempted a game of soccer in the garden we had. Because I was never good with my hand-leg coordination and the ball, I always offered to be the goalkeeper – believing it to be the simplest job on the field. I never gave the game a chance to prove myself wrong, because I would run away from the ball each time it came for me. I realized, after running away several times, that it was not the ball I was afraid of; I was afraid of the hoard of people that threatened to run into me and knock me aside.
Goalkeepers are suppose to hold their ground, right up to the last possible moment before they jump at the flying ball, using their body to block the vicious attacks of the opponents on the field. In the same way, are we good goalkeepers of our faith and the church of God? Let us think less of our physical bodies and value our saving the goals from the flaming arrows of Satan more. This is one battle we cannot afford to lose.