The male nurse lifted him from the reclined chair and laid him in the hospital bed with little effort.  This once proud man often boasted of his six foot, 180 pound physic which had been reduced to 102 pounds of skin and bones.  The colostomy bag and catheter had succeeded in eliminating any small amount of pride that may have remained.

An intravenous feeding tube was the only things standing between him and eternity.  It prevented the complete dehydration or starvation of his 89 year old body that had recently undergone major intestinal surgery.

Richard struggled to grip the sheet tightly enough to pull it over his chilled arms.  Every movement was excruciating.  Yet, his mind was clear and unclouded from the drugs.  “My life on this earth is almost over,” he thought. “There are so many things I wish I could change, especially with Ron.”  His wife assumed the small tears building in the corners of his eyes and then slowly finding their way down the side of his face to the pillow were tears of pain.  They were, but it wasn’t physical, the regrets of life were flooding his soul as he lay helpless in room 3316.

“He’s here,” he said weakly as his son walked in the room.  The sight of Ron brought a smile to his face replacing the grimace of pain that had been there only moments before.   He gathered all his strength to speak these few words.  “Hi son, I’m so glad you’re here.”  Ron walked to the side of his bed, leaned over and gave him a gentle hug.  “I’m glad to be here too dad,” he whispered, and then after a short pause, “I love you.”  “I love you too son,” he said as he struggled to kiss Ron’s cheek.

Ron had been on the road for twelve hours and came straight to the hospital when he arrived in town.  He felt in his heart that his dad might die soon and knew how important it was to make sure things were right between the two of them.  They had not been close since his father divorced his mother forty years earlier.  But it wasn’t the divorce that bothered him the most; it was his father’s complete disinterest in his grand children.

There was the time Ron called to see if his dad would attend the last football game of the season in which his grandson was the starting running back.  “I’ve made other commitments, maybe another time,” he answered.   And of course, another time never came.  Holidays and special events seemed to mean nothing to his father, and as the years went by the grandchildren lost all interest in their grandfather.  For Ron, the resentment grew.

II Corinthians  2Co 5:18-19 says, “ Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

Reconciliation began for Ron and his dad when Ron finally allowed the message of this scripture to take root in his heart.  He began to understand that if God was not imputing our trespasses to us, than who was he to impute them to his father.  And besides, he had never treated his dad’s new wife very well and in so doing had given his dad reason to resent his behavior as well.

But recently, both Ron and his dad had begun to reach out to each other.  Perhaps they both sensed the end was nearing.  The phone calls, although short and sweet, were increasing in frequency and love was beginning to find its way back into the relationship.

The Holy Spirit was gently and patiently revealing the truth to Ron.  He was finally beginning to understand that his dad was so full of guilt and condemnation he could not face the family.  Richard did not want to be reminded of the price he had paid to fulfill his own selfish interest when he divorced Ron’s mom.  And the grandkids were like a mirror that forced him to see the truth.

What was left of any resentment and anger that Ron had once felt for his father melted away at his dad’s bedside that afternoon.  It was replaced with a love and compassion that came from the Lord.  Ron began reminiscing aloud about his childhood and the good times they had fishing and hunting together.  He ended by saying, “ya know what dad, when I was a little boy, you were really a good dad, thanks.”

Richard was now unashamedly crying.  Nothing meant more to him than hearing those words of love and confirmation coming from his son.  His fear was not that he would be leaving this earth with unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, but that he would leave not knowing for sure if his son loved or hated him.  That day the Lord answered his prayer and true reconciliation was taking place in both their hearts.

Richard is still alive at the writing of this article and he and Ron are growing closer every day.  But I encourage you not to wait until the end of life to make things right in your family.  Become an ambassador of Jesus Christ and be the one who opens the door to reconciliation.  It doesn’t come by telling them it is time for us to reconcile.  It comes by humbling yourself before God and letting Him change your heart.  When that happens, the love of God will be evident to all and the door of true reconciliation will open.

Jim Ertel
Heart of the Family

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