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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Eternity (03/10/11)

TITLE: The Circle of Life
By Patricia Protzman
03/17/11


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I sat beside the elderly man’s hospital bed waiting for his final breath. Mottled skin, irregular breathing, and coma indicated he would expire soon. A medication treating diabetes had destroyed the liver causing his body to swell to twice its normal size. Birth and death—beginnings and endings—are both struggles. As a nurse, I had witnessed hundreds of deaths, but this passing was different. He was my father.

Within twenty minutes, Dad had gone out into eternity. I knew I would see him in heaven but the idea that I would never see him again on earth was as irrational and surreal as a dream. Blinding tears flowed freely down my face; there was a hole in my heart. I bawled. “How will I ever get along without you, Daddy?”

Weighed down by the shroud of grief, I was surprised to be able to meet and greet family, friends, and acquaintances during visiting hours at the funeral home without falling apart. I was astonished that I could stand and sing his favourite hymn at the funeral, “Amazing Grace” without emotionally crumbling. An indescribable peace, provided by the Holy Spirit, enveloped me.

A few days later, my family and I gathered around Dad’s casket at the cemetery. Amid soft cries and whimpers, my youngest brother Jim sobbed inconsolably. A late in life baby, seventeen years younger than me, he wanted his little ones to grow up with Dad as my children had done. Silently, I wished God had given Dad more time; seventy-five years was much too short.

Losing my Dad brought the stark realization of the fragility and finality of life and tested my faith. If ever one doubted there was a God or an afterlife, the loss of a loved one will either cause you to run to Jesus or cause you to turn away from Him. I chose to turn to Him.

Throughout the following weeks, months, and years, I grieved, searched the Word, and questioned God.

“Why did you take Daddy so soon, Lord? He witnessed for you wherever he went. Others claim to be Christians, but they do nothing for you. Why did you let him die that horrid way? Didn’t he suffer enough growing up as an orphan?”

A Christian for forty years at the time of Dad’s death, I knew the Scriptures but sometimes the head and heart do not agree. Emotions get in the way, resulting in foggy thinking.

Today, almost eleven years later, I still have periods of overwhelming grief but time and the Holy Spirit have helped lessen the hurt. The Lord has not answered my questions; but I will have an eternity to ask Him. For now, He only points me to His Word, asks me to trust Him, and I do.

Life is fleeting; there is not one guarantee of another minute nor is anything in this life permanent. In marriage, we pledge to love each other until death. However, sometimes love is not enough and divorce enters in. Our employer gives us a position but events occur which cause us to lose the job. We dedicate our children to the Lord, have hopes and aspirations for them, but sometimes they make wrong choices and hurt or disappoint us.

God gives us life but He makes no promises as to how long we will live. He does promise us that we will never die and live forever with Him if we trust in His Son for the remission of our sins.

Within the circle of life is Jesus Christ who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He tells us to live in the Spirit and not by our circumstances; things seen are temporal, unseen things are eternal. He also says all things work for our good.

Dad believed and lived by God’s Word. He loved people and reached out to them with the Gospel. As his oldest child and daughter, I have decided to do the same. Our bodies, ravaged by sin and disease, will eventually die but the Bible says death will be swallowed up in victory. We will reign with Christ in eternity with our new bodies. Our Lord’s resurrection is our proof and our promise.

* * *

A true story.


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This article has been read 345 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 03/20/11
It's a whole new step when death statistics and terminal symptoms start to include family members. All our training and objectivity give us a handle on the process, but not on how we will respond to it. Thank you for your transparency in such a heartfelt view into your own experience, and may God further equip you with care and comfort for others who grieve, as 2 Cor 1: 3-5 point out. I know, as I've also been there as a pastor, whose many hundreds of funerals include those of my own parents.
Virgil Youngblood 03/21/11
You have written a beautiful tribute to your father. He left you a legacy of wonderful memories. You are following in his footsteps creating memories for your children that in time, they too shall treasure.
dub W03/22/11
Well written. I too sat with my father during his final hours, so your essay truly touched me.
Laury Hubrich 03/22/11
I haven't been through this with my own parents but I have with my in-laws. It's so very sad but easier to give them up to eternity in Heaven. Why would we want to hold them back? Thank you for sharing. A perfect title, too!
Rachel Phelps03/22/11
Excellent use of a true story to illustrate your point. Your descriptions were vivid and your reader connection complete. Well done.
Edmond Ng 03/23/11
Diabetes took my dad from me too, and I can understand how you feel. Sadly, though, my dad went on without the Lord.

It is good sometimes for us to write down our pain because it helps to provide relieve. I wrote a devotional about Coping with Bereavement sometime ago. Handling bereavement is not something easy because our feelings and memories continue to linger on for days, months and even years. We must however not stay in our sorrow. We must instead stay strong. For to those of us whose loved ones have received the Lord, the day shall come where tears shall be wiped away and God shall dwell among us (Revelation 21:3-4).

May the Holy Spirit comfort you whenever you feel sad.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/23/11
This is done beautifully and a wonderful tribute to your dad It took me back 17 years ago when Mom died at 57. It is sad that my kids never knew her. You did a wonderful job with a story I'm sure was bittersweet for you to write.
Amanda Brogan03/23/11
Beautiful variety of vocabulary and distribution of eternal truth. I also appreciated the note at the end. Knowing that it was a true story added to its power.

My favorite part is where you wrote that hard times can either tear a person away from God or cause them to turn to Him more than ever before. You made the best choice.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/24/11
Congratulations for placing 11th in level three!