By: Nan Smith
1 John 4: 16: So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.
As I move towards retirement, there have been so many memories flooding my mind from my time of serving as a pastor. Just recently, there was a married couple where the husband suffered a massive heart attack. The EMT’s were able to get a heartbeat and he was airlifted to the hospital’s cardiac critical care. He was in pretty tough shape when he arrived and so ended up being placed on a ventilator.
I visited the husband the next day, unsure of what to expect when I walked through the door. I was pleasantly surprised to see him sitting up in the bed, off the ventilator, and recognizing who I was. His wife was sitting in a chair next to the bed holding his hand.
Now the drugs given to keep people calm when placed on a ventilator, have the side effect of causing temporary amnesia. The husband was confused and trying to make sense of why he was in the hospital. He kept asking his wife what had happened and why couldn’t he just leave since he felt fine. Over and over again he asked those same questions and patiently she told him he had had a heart attack and was in the hospital.
However, each time the questions were repeated, I noticed the strain on her face growing deeper — that strain that comes from knowing you almost lost someone you love dearly. With the repetition, it became harder and harder for his wife to maintain her composure. Finally, her face just crumpled and her eyes filled with tears. Her husband looked over at her with such concern. Then I watched as this man, hooked up to all sorts of tubes and wires, reached over with his other hand and simply patted his wife’s hand that was holding his.
It was a sacred moment. It was a loving moment. It was a beautiful moment. The look of love in his eyes was mirrored in hers.
In this season of retirement, when I am packing up my office, sorting through files, and doing things for the very last time, I hold onto this moment. In this season, where the goodbyes to come seem more than I can bear, I hold onto this moment. In this season, where I am letting go, but I am unsure as to what I am reaching for, I hold onto this moment. In this season, of preparing this faith community for a new pastor, I hold onto this moment. For I can imagine, that this moment is like the unconditional love God holds for each of us. I can imagine, God gently patting our hands in the difficult happenings of our lives — helping us to do what needs to be done.
No one tells you how hard it will be or how there will be these moments of unexpected grace to help carry you through. I am thankful and blessed.