The amusement park’s jungle cruise boat captain entertained us with silly jokes and warned us to watch out for the water-spitting elephants. At seven years of age, I was enjoying myself immensely as I sat between my mom and dad in the full boat.
However, the captain’s voice suddenly turned serious. He warned we would have to go through a dark cave full of headhunters in order to get back home. There was no other way.
The captain shared there was no need to worry since the headhunters mostly attack little blonde-haired girls. This presented a dilemma since I was a little blonde-haired girl who wished to keep her head. I covered my eyes to avoid seeing my fate. However, I realized by covering my eyes with my own hands, I could not see if my dad was still there to protect me. So I covered my eyes with his hand instead. And with that move, I upstaged the captain as our fellow passengers dissolved into laughter.
Over the years I have often turned to my dad when I was scared or upset. My dad was always available when I needed him. He would “cover my eyes against the scary” with words of encouragement and promises God would be with me even when he couldn’t.
Fast forward 35 years from that jungle boat cruise. A different scary outcome lay ahead. The cave replaced with my parents’ house. The boat for a hospital bed.
I longed for my dad to cover my eyes against the “scary,” but his hand lay limp at his side. My dad was dying. Although hospice provided a book to inform us what to expect, living it was much worse than reading about it. Each stage much more horrible than the last.
I heard the death rattle in my dad’s chest and throat. Not being able to draw in much breath, he fought for air. The hospice nurses had promised he would feel nothing as he neared the end. However, even though he was sleeping, it seemed to me he was suffering.
My every instinct warred within me to help. But I knew there was nothing I could do. He was ready to go so I was forced to helplessly stand and watch.
There was no other way home. My dad was about to enter heaven and this was the only way.
As I watched my dad take his final breaths in this life, my body was wracked with sobs. I needed my dad to cover my eyes and encourage me everything would be okay.
But he couldn’t. My dad would no longer be here for me to turn to when I was facing something scary.
Then I remembered the principle my dad taught every chance he had. My Heavenly Father would always be with me even when my own dad could not. So I turned to God and begged Him to help me get through this horrible scene playing out in front of me.
I was reminded of Stephen in the bible who was stoned to death for his faith. Before he took his final breaths, he saw heaven open up before him and saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand. There was no suffering as he took his final breaths and entered heaven.
If God could open Stephen’s eyes to heaven and “cover his eyes against the scary,” then He could do the same for my dad. This became my prayer. And I choose to believe it was answered. Just as Stephen died peacefully amidst being stoned, my dad died peacefully amidst straining for breath.
And now He does the same for me day by day, moment by moment. God opens my eyes to the knowledge my dad is with Him. Unable to walk in the last 3 years of his life, he now runs the streets of heaven probably playing a pick-up game of basketball with Joseph. He is visiting with his own mom and dad, many other relatives, and the people in the bible he studied much about over the years.
These reminders allow God to hold me up with His right hand and “cover my eyes against the scary.”
As I continue to travel the “valley of the shadow of death.” He strengthens me, gives me wisdom when I ask, and comforts me. Although my dad’s hand is no longer available to me, God’s hand will always be there.
God’s there for you too. What “scary” are you facing? Pick up God’s hand and cover your eyes. Allow Him to hold you with His right hand as He soothes you with words of encouragement and provides strength to face what lay ahead.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
This post dedicated to my dad who went to heaven Oct. 16, 2013.
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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson