Cancer had affected every part of his body. It had left him with a skeletal frame and little energy. After an unexpected fall it stripped him of all confidence to ever walk again and later take his dignity too. It was devastating to watch. My dad had always been up and about, the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. Always on the move, active, productive. Now he lay in his bed crippled by this disease. Despite all of this he kept telling us God was going to heal him but the doctors were saying otherwise. I had the faith the God could heal him. In every fibre of my body I know Go can switch things around and do the miraculous but things weren’t looking good. I felt angry with God. If He was going to heal him He needed to strengthen our faith, if He wasn’t going to heal him He needed to speak to us, give us the chance to say our goodbyes, give my dad the chance to come to terms with the truth that he was going home. It hurt me to see my dad barking up the wrong tree of healing, if that wasn’t for him. Wasn’t it better for him to spend his final days in peace knowing the King of King was waiting for him and his place there was already prepared for him?
In frustration and anger I crept down the stairs into the kitchen and got on my knees and began to pray, cry out to God in a way I had never done before! ‘Please God heal him, I want him to stay here with us. But if it’s not your will, speak to him, tell him you’re waiting for him. Please let conversation of healing stop and conversation of going home begin so peace in his heart will begin to settle. He’s suffering Lord, I can’t bear to see the suffering.’ I cried and prayed from the deepest place of my heart and God met me there in my quiet broken place. I can only describe it as an anchor that dropped deep into my soul. It steadied my emotions, my outburst, my faith.
As I walked back up the stairs I felt led to pray with dad. I had the strength to pray for God to have his way. We even managed to sing together. We sang ‘Break every Chain’ by Jesus Culture over and over. I desperately wanted every chain to be broken. Chain of pain, chain of cancer, chain of disappointment, confinement, and hurt.
The next morning when dad woke up the first thing he told me was that he was going home. I couldn’t believe it, the transition to heaven had begun.
It was only 10 days later that dad’s health deteriorated significantly. The last time I saw him I prayed with him and I sang the song ‘I surrender all’ with him. It was the most painful moment of my life but God was present with us.
A few weeks after he passed away I was at Hillsong Conference in London. Friends were surprised to see me so soon after dad’s funeral but I couldn’t think of a better place to be. A place that resembled where dad was – were thousands were worshipping their Saviour. It was emotional as every time we sang, I imagined my dad doing the same in heaven. On day 3 of the conference I was exhausted. I never knew how much grief physically and emotionally exhausted a person. As I considered skipping the last session and going home early I somehow convinced myself to stay. I bargained with God in my mind that I would be there but not give anything of myself. I just wanted to sit. As the worship began I couldn’t even find the strength to stand but in my heart I felt God starting to whisper into my heart.
‘You were blessed with a great father for almost 40 years. I want you to remember that you’re the KIng’s daughter and in your time left here on earth you’ll experience the Father’s love in new ways.’
I wasn’t sure if God was speaking to me or if I was imagining it so with head down I began bargaining some more with God. If this is really you speaking to me, demonstrate your presence and power to me in this place.
There were 10,000 people there that day but what happened next made me feel like I was the only one in the room, just me with my Heavenly Father.
As the worship leader led the service he stopped and said tonight we’re going to sing a few older songs that God’s laid on my heart. First song was “Break every chain” – ‘What? That was the song I sang with dad” I thought. God had my attention so I stood up. Whatever God had for me I wanted it. As hard as it was for me I lifted my hands in worship and sang that song for the first time since I had sung it with my dad. That was enough for me. God had convinced me he was with me and he loved and cherished me. But in His generous love He gave me more. We went on to sing the old school version of ‘ I surrender all’ – the same song I sang with dad the day before he passed but also the same song I had grown up singing with him. It was so unusual for these songs to be sung – the worship leader said it himself. This moment caught my attention in a surreal way. God had unexpectedly showed up and demonstrated to me that He could see me and my pain and healing was important to him. The King had lavishly embraced His Princess – an embrace I would hold on to for the painful months of grief and healing ahead.