This weekend started early with a text from my husband saying that his father was given 24-48 hours to live.
Fred Sr. was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer 3 years ago. After several surgeries, trips to the hospital, and intense treatments, he was declared cancer free. The announcement came as a shock to doctors but his family knows that the power and blessing of God is stronger than any diagnosis.
Fred Sr. made up his mind to fight, proclaiming that he had work left to do on this earth. Over the last 3 years, he has done just that. He has worked to provide for his family, to love them, to prepare them. He has prayed continuously and encouraged everyone around him in their faith.
And I really don’t know him all that well… But he has impacted me. Earlier in his diagnosis, he encouraged his family to read a book about the power of the Holy Spirit. When I read it, I was angry at the claims that people who were cured of illness were better at harnessing the Holy Spirit than other, weaker believers. (That’s what I got out of it anyway.)
I believe that Fred had meant the book to start family discussion but I slammed it shut and walked away.
Within a month of turning my back in anger, my girlfriend invited me for the second or third time to join her in a women’s Bible study at our church. This time, for whatever reason, I felt prompted to accept her invitation. When I arrived, they were studying the Holy Spirit.
I was upset by the book Fred had suggested but I was also made aware of how little I really knew about the Holy Spirit’s role in the trinity. What I learned over time in the study was that the Holy Spirit had been working in Fred and in me to soften my heart and open me to understanding His work and voice in my life.
And because of that, I find myself grateful and blessed to know Fred Sr. He is more than the patriarch of a family, more than the great model he provided for his son (my husband); he is the man who started a conversation in my life that will forever leave me changed. A conversation that opened my life to confidence in witnessing and life-altering rebuke. A conversation that draws me closer to my faith and hopefully impacts others to do the same.
The cancer returned and his family has reacted with faith and prayer once again. As we love him home and reflect on his time with us, l can’t help but think about the legacy he leaves to an outsider.