I hope that you have all had a very Merry Christmas! My family certainly did, in large part to my dad’s presence in our home this Christmas…for the first time in 70 days! Even in light of the severe circumstances that erupted into our lives in October, removing him from home, and engaging him on a long and hard path full of some very serious miracles, my father being home returned our little family to a comfortable and refreshing normalcy…a long awaited and very welcomed emotional sigh of relief. There’s a saying that tells us that ‘we never truly miss a loved one until we see their empty chair.’ Well, this Christmas, my father’s big brown leather recliner was occupied by a much slimmer, much healthier, and very much restored 81 year old. By the eternal grace of a loving God, I was not forced to stare upon an empty chair, but, instead, I was humbled and privileged to share laughter, love, and fellowship with the living and breathing miracle who is my dad.
For our family, the holidays are always full of laughter, great food, and the blessings of family. We enjoy each other, and we don’t hide that fact. In October, that tradition seemed to hang in a very delicate and often tedious balance, but, thankfully, this year, the tradition continued on.
Although the shadow of my mom’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree fell upon a host of gifts, festively wrapped, the real gift of our Christmas this year did not come wrapped in colorful paper. Instead, it came as a recognition of the profound infusion of grace that God has showered upon our family…the grace found in the continued life and health of my father. It’s a gift that we will surely never forget…a gift of immense magnitude, and a gift producing profound gratitude. I am thankful, and that’s an understatement.
Dad returned home on the morning of Thursday, December 22nd…again, 70 days from his departure. He is thrilled to be back in familiar surroundings, and he is doing great! We had concerns that he would need assistance with many things upon returning home. Frankly, he doesn’t need help doing anything. He’s very active; he does a lot of walking, and he’s eating very well. He can walk unaided, although, until he’s stronger, he’s very content with pushing a cardiac walker through the house and up and down the driveway. He needs no assistance standing or getting out of bed. It’s really quite incredible to see just how far God has delivered this wonderful man. Soon, I expect him to be back working on things in the garage, mowing, gardening, playing with tractors, etc… He’s on the way, and I think he’s determined.
There’s one word that has haunted my mind since this all began, and I still can’t shake it. It’s the word “restored.” Our God is a God of restoration and healing. Throughout this entire ordeal, there has been one verse that has stuck in my head, and it’s found in the book of Jeremiah. In context (because the Bible should always be read in context!), this verse is referring to God restoring Israel…but God used this entire chapter to speak very boldly to me, on a very personal level, since October 14th.
Jeremiah 30:17 says, “…I will restore you to health and heal your wounds…”
God was speaking to the dispersed nation of Israel in this verse regarding their situation, but, in His sovereignty, God did this very thing for my dad! He has brought about restoration that frankly was deemed a medical impossibility. He’s done what only God can do. He’s magnificently restored that which was previously in ruins. He’s healed and brought back that which was hopelessly lost, and He’s done it in a way that no one else can take the credit for the work.
Please know that my father is doing well! He’s getting stronger, and he’s looking forward to returning to life healthier and happier than ever! My father is a strong man; he always has been, but his Heavenly Father is the strongest of all! God was there throughout every medical procedure and test. He was miraculously working in the course of every moment, even when I, in pitiful faithlessness, failed to see Him. He was there through sleepless nights and restless days, through miles of travel, and severe emotional fatigue. He’s always been there, and it was by His grace, and through His work, that my earthly father traveled this long and very tenuous road…a road that, on day 70, thankfully led back home.
Soli Deo Gloria…To God, and God alone, be the glory!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!