One of the greatest miracles in my Dad’s life happened in the last few months that he was on this earth.
In one day, one heart attack took him from the place of being a very strong 71-year-old, 6’3” man to a man who was in need of constant care. This painful journey lasted for a year.
In fact, it was almost surreal seeing his legs that never healed because of diabetes complications. He slept in his “lifting recliner” because he could barely breathe.
He would cry out to Mom to intercede for him in the middle of the night. Cry out for his healing that never came this side of heaven.
On one of his most desperate days, he sat in the backyard of his house trying to pull every ounce of sunlight in to make his heavy mind feel better.
He closed his eyes and uttered this prayer: “God, are you still with me, in all this pain? Please let me know that You are still by my side.”
He opened his eyes to find that a white dove had landed in the nearby tree. All of a sudden, a feeling of peace surrounded him.
Then he said, “God, if this is You, could You bring that dove down to me?”
As soon as he spoke the words, that white bird flew down to the seat beside him and walked right up into his palm.
That bird stayed in my father’s hands until Dad released him to fly back up into the tree.
Then Dad prayed again, “God, could you let that bird stay here until Joyce comes home from work?”
Hours later, when my mother arrived, that bird again flew down from that tree. This time, it landed on the fence beside her, then gently climbed into her hands. Then, when Mom finally released it, the dove returned to the same spot, right in the tree.
Even though that prayer didn’t take away Dad’s pain or change his situation, over the course of the next week, the bird stayed perched in the tree. However in this dark pit of his final days, before a glorious healing, Dad felt the Comforter was there, in the midst of the excruciating struggles to his final place of complete rest. And even in that extended time of pain, God provided relational healing for our family.
This story reinforces the truth of Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (NIV).
This is the kind of story I want to pass down to my children and my children’s children, not just because it’s a miracle from the past. And not just because it reminds us that God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we would like.
It is a reminder that the God Who brought something as simple as a dove—the wrap of His feathers—into the middle of my father’s pain, is the caring, attentive, comforting Father we serve.
I pray this issue of Leading Hearts helps you remember the stories of God’s love and faithfulness, which in the very same way He lavishly pours out for you. And no matter how many generations pass, His story never changes.