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You Are God's Lighthouse

Kathy M. Dingus

 

Many of you receive the Christian Womenís "In Touch" newsletter and it is an inspiration to all of us. One of the first issues contained a challenge from Sheila Graham to In Touch readers.

The challenge was simple. Write in and tell how others have expressed their love. Simple. Actually to me it was very simple. I knew just what I wanted to write about. It was very dear to my heart and after some thought I did write in. It turned out to be too long for "In Touch" to put into print, but I thought I would share this with you.

And to each and every one of you who did show their love, thanks again. To all of you who express your love daily to one another, either by giving away a hug, a smile or a note to someone in need, thanks to you, too! Here's the letter I submitted in reply to Sheila Grahamís challenge.

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There have been so many ways that others have expressed their love to me, but one incident in particular stands out in my mind.

The highlight of my Father's year had always been to attend our Church Fall Festival every year with his family. Shortly before the Festival in 1994 my father became ill. We did not know the cause of his illness and he would not agree to stay at home and see a physician. He was determined to go to the Festival and not being physically able to go was simply not a valid reason to stay home. The morning of the first day, he could not speak coherently. He was confused and incontinent and could not voice his thoughts into understandable sentences. This certainly was not my Father's normal behavior, so my mother and a couple of friends immediately took my father to a local hospital emergency room. A series of blood tests were completed, revealing nothing abnormal. The ER Doctor decided to have a CAT Scan performed which revealed a very serious brain tumor.

My father and mother had been members of the Worldwide Church of God since February of 1966. My brothers and sisters as well as myself are second generation Christians.

I was attending the Church Festival in Lexington, Kentucky with my children. My sister and her family were in Daytona Beach, Florida, and my brother was in St. Petersburg, Florida with his family. Mom and Dad were in the Lake of the Ozarks.

My Mother did not drive and my father was understandably unable to drive. Mom made the necessary frantic telephone calls to gather our family together. My brother who had not attended the Festival, and I met midway and drove to meet Mom and Dad, who by now had been transferred to his local home hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

More tests were performed and we were then told that Dad had a malignant butterfly glioblastoma. This tumor covered both sides of his brain and was therefore inoperable.

We were all in shock. My Father was the strongest man I had ever known. He was never sick, and now he could barely speak his thoughts.

The doctors explained his treatment options, which would only slow the cancer, not cure it. Dad moved the bedcovers away from him and said, "Let's go home!"

My sister and her family and our other brother had now arrived. We moved Mom and Dad to Pound, Virginia within a 24_hour time frame and settled them in their new home.

We had requested all neighboring festival sites to please announce prayer requests on Dad's behalf. Immediately all of our family and friends from near and far were praying for Dad and for us, and were sending cards and letters of encouragement.

The local church members helped us tremendously by cooking meals and bringing them to our house since my father was being nursed at home by Mom, my sister, my brothers and myself.

My father lived 21 days from the time of his diagnosis. He died in his house in his own bed as he had wished. He died with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and with his dignity intact.

My family has always been a close_knit group. We gathered together and made it through this trial. But we would not have made it through as well, if not for the help of our friends and loved ones. Just knowing they were down on their knees in supplication to Jesus Christ for Dad and also for us, helped us to face each new day and to thank God for it.

Cards and letters streamed in, and love gifts to help Mom in the weeks and days to come were generously given by so many. Calls of support and offers of help were so freely given, so many in fact, that we could not use everyone that did offer to help.

Just knowing that so many of our dear friends in the 13 different churches in which my father and mother had served (as a deacon and deaconess) were praying fervently for Dad and for us, helped us make it through each day.

Many people we did not know sent cards and letters. Dad's employers and coworkers, local unions, relatives and friends all joined the ranks to let us know how much he and his family were loved.

The cards I enjoyed the most, and still have to this day, were the cards from different people who explained just what an impact Dad had made in their lives.

One woman wrote that Dad was the first person she met when she first attended church and as long as he was in their area, he was the first person to greet her at each church service.

Some shared personal memories of Dad, some we knew about and others we didn't.

Others told of how much Dad had encouraged them in their times of trials and hardship and what a wonderful friend Dad was to them.

It was such a boost for us to know just how much Dad was loved and respected by others, as well as how much we were also loved, by their response to our needs both physically and spiritually.

Most of all, my Dad expressed his love and concern for his family by facing his death with dignity. He was not afraid and had great faith that he would be with us again.

He spoke to us all, while still in the hospital on the day of his diagnosis. He stated his wishes as to his funeral and burial and his feelings for us and he did not leave us wondering what his desires would have been.

We knew exactly what he wanted and somehow that was comforting in our time of grief, and in the difficult days and months yet ahead. Although losing Dad was a great blow to our family and his friends, we know just how much he was loved by others and how fortunate we were to have such wonderfully, caring people in this world.

Christians all over, and not just from our fellowship, have let the light of Jesus Christ shine through their deeds to help us and we cannot possibly express how much we needed it and still appreciate it.

I have often overheard various comments in regard to a certain hardness in Christians. They can speak the talk, but not walk the walk, etc. Well, my family has first_hand experience that this is not so.

I know that Jesus works through others to bestow His love upon us. I thank God daily that this is still the case, because we hear daily of new supplications that are needed on behalf of others.

A couple of years ago, much to my shame, I could not seem to find enough to pray about. I would go to Christ in prayer and then wonder how I would fill the allotted time needed to assuage my conscience.

Thanks to God I no longer have that problem . . . now, it's a problem of a different sort.

I now need more time to go to God with my pleas than I can seem to find. I pray to God in my car as I drive to work, as I am walking between buildings to run errands, as I am doing menial tasks that are boring, yet necessary.

This draws me closer to my God as well as making me more sensitive to others and their needs.

Please do not let anyone speak negatively about God's love reflected in His people. My family and I have been recipients of His love through others and we know it's there in abundance.