One year ago today.

Judgment Day It was exactly one year ago today that my wife’s stepfather (a very high degree Mason) passed away after being diagnosed with cancer a month previous to that. She took care of him at his home and after his passing she penned her thoughts–only recently revealing them to me.

With her permission her letter is reprinted below for your edification.

I have just had my first real, up-close experience with death. There are a few things I observed that I would like to share:

I have known people that have passed on and you mourn a little and have the usual thoughts like, “Why them? It’s just not fair,” “But he was such a good man,” “She was just so young”, or, “Well, at least they are in a better place now.”

They’re right, life isn’t fair. Praise God that life isn’t always fair. If it was fair, there would be no hope whatsoever for me a wretched soul, or for you or for anyone. I deserve an eternity in hell and it is only by the grace of God and God alone, that if He so chooses I may escape the punishment I am deserving of and enter into an eternity with Him.

If only people knew and realized the truth that none of us are good, no not even one, then they would know better than to say “But he was such a good man.”

How can they say “They are in a better place now, at least they are out of pain.” Do they know this? Do they know that this person was a believer? If not, they must not know either, that there is much more pain in the Lake of Fire than there is here on earth.

The next thing I realized was what a shame it is the way we spend so much of our lives. We work so hard at the trivial, materialistic things in life that I guarantee will someday not matter to you one bit! All of the “things you possess don’t matter one iota when you are stuck lying in a bed, immobile, facing what is to so many, too many – the unknown.

My stepfather was diagnosed with cancer on September 4th, 2008, just under 1 month after his 61st birthday. On September 5th we brought him home on hospice. He always loved working on his computer. He would spend hours in his back room playing on it.

While I was at his home caring for him, I would offer to set him up with my laptop so he could do what he enjoyed. He tried this a couple of times, but it just didn’t work like it used to. His mind wasn’t sharp and he didn’t have the energy or desire to do what he could once do so easily. He was just like one of my children to me. I wanted to give him anything I could to make him happy. I would sit and think “what could I bring him that he could enjoy.” I would bring sweets, watermelon, tacos, anything I thought would taste good to him, but he didn’t really care about food that much either. I would bring him better nightgowns, a new toothbrush, a good electric shaver…anything that I thought might bring him just a moment of pleasure. The problem is, that he had a whole life of sinful pleasure and now there was only one thing that he needed now, and that was to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I tried a couple of pathetic attempts to talk to him, about his need for Christ. But, I still had time so I figured I would get to it at some point and besides I had sent my pastor to speak with him so I knew he had heard the Gospel from him, (a lousy excuse, I know.)

My stepfather often had visitors, which is more than many people have. So often people are left in institutions to die with no one by their side, no one to show them kindness in their final days, no one who can offer them the Gospel.

The only time they see their loved ones is when they are coming to claim what they feel rightfully belongs to them. Many people came to claim their part of my stepfather’s belongings. His brother came first, asking for his truck, my mother wanted to make sure she was on his life insurance policy and other possessions were passed out like candy.

My step-father had been getting along okay considering the circumstances. He was bedridden, but for the most part still had his wits about him. He was on heavy pain meds so he had good and bad moments.

On October 1st everything sort of fell apart. I will spare you unnecessary details, but the nurse had come out to bathe him that morning and another nurse had come to check on his vitals and such. He was in some pain after he had to move around in bed to be bathed so the nurse gave him some liquid morphine and from that moment on, he was no longer with us. The next day he slept almost the entire day. I had to call the CNA out to help me change his bedding and when we tried, he would scream and cry out in pain. It was so awful. I was fighting back tears as I watched this man wince with every slight movement or touch. It was so agonizing and excruciating for him just thinking of it brings me to tears. At one point I had to tell the nurse to stop, I could not bear to see him in this amount of pain. I can only imagine or liken this to what it must be like in hell. Unfortunately in hell, there is no one there to be your advocate, to stop the torture for you, to save you.

After we got through changing the bed he slept all the rest of the day. His mouth was so dry it was cracked and bleeding. I would try to moisten it with a wet sponge, but it did no good. It was this moment that made me think about the rich man who was begging for just one taste of water; the man who realized the mistake he had made and begged for someone to go and warn his family that they may be spared. This rich man was now my stepfather lying in that bed and it was now too late. Too late for me to share the Gospel with him, too late for me to warn him!

My sister called me the next day–he had passed away. I went to my mom’s and all the family was standing around mourning, waiting for the funeral home to come and get him and then it came. The usual utterances, “He’s in a better place now, he is out of pain.” And I wanted to scream! How can you say that? How do you know that?

How stupid I was! How foolish! Oh how my heart aches that I had not been courageous enough to share the GOOD NEWS with him, this dying man who needed hope, needed a Saviour.

How foolish we all are. Where do our treasures really lie? If we truly believe and realize what happens to a nonbeliever when they leave this world why then are we not willing to say anything? Why are we so ashamed to offer hope and knowledge of salvation to these people who are just like we once were? Or are we really so fooled by this twisted concept of Christianity that American churches serve to us on our silver platter that we don’t care!

I can only imagine my stepfather, as the rich king was pleading that someone go and warn his family. Only 7 months later, his brother passed away from the same illness and as far as I am aware, never came to a saving knowledge of our Lord.

16 thoughts on “One year ago today.

  1. Thank you for sharing, Pilgrim! One day, I think we will all realize the missed opportunities and will mourn each of them. May the Lord help us to always be ready to share the gospel with those around us! Give your wife our love!

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  2. Pilgrim, thanks for posting your wife’s story, it was sad indeed. It brought tears to my eyes, may all of us understand the urgency of preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins to everyone we can. I too have had times of not saying what should have been said. This article hit me right between the eyes. Please tell your wife that I am sorry for her loss and pray that God will comfort her with His peace.

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  3. This is a testimony that might make someone think twice about their eternal destination. Thank you for sharing it.

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  4. Thank you, i needed my father could die soon he is sick and i should not wait any more. Dios los bendiga.

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  5. What a heart-rending story.

    I pray that the Lord has kept your wife’s stepfather in the promise of his baptism.

    When my dad was dying, I would tell him that he didn’t belong to himself, that the Lord had adopted him in his baptism. And that the treasure that awaited him in Heaven is far better than anyone could imagine.

    I too, pray that the Lord kept my dad in the promise of his baptism.

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  6. I’m so sorry that this happened. If he heard the Gospel, but didn’t respond….you know that you can’t blame yourself; God has to soften people’s hearts and draw them. Thank you for sharing this.

    P.S. – What does “in the promise of his baptism” mean?

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  7. Marie,

    It means that in our baptisms, God actually baptized us (He did it). And in that baptism He gave us His name (He adopted us). That means that He’ll take care of us.

    He gave to us the forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation.

    He put us (our old sinfull self) to death in the waters of baptism (Romans 6) and He raises us up to new life in Christ (also Romans 6).

    We can count on these promises, since God made them to us in our baptisms.

    I hope that helped a little bit, Marie.

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  8. God Bless you and your wife Pilgrim! Thank you for sharing this. Shows us why more and more we need to share the Gospel.

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  9. This reminds me so of the death of my Dad, a 32 degree Free Mason. Ihe had once threatened to break my leg if I became a pastor, and break both my legs if I became a Baptist Pastor. the week i was installed into the pulpit full time i stood over his bed looking down at his legs, broken from within by cancer. I just had to wonder.

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  10. I just read this now, and my heart goes out to your wife, Pilgrim. I know how hard it is to watch a loved one pass away as he did, and the worst part about it is to think that he or she might not be heaven right now. My mom paased away in 1993 from colon cancer and other problems. As far as I knew then she was a Christian and loved Jesus. But as it stands now, with what I know about Scripture and Biblical repentance, I don’t think she ever truly repented of her sin in this manner. Maybe she did but I never saw any evidence of this. My Grandma passed away in 1986 and she “accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour” on her death bed. She repented of all the grudges and unforgiveness she had against all the people in her life. She was at it for a few hours! Just before she died, she smiled, looked up into the corner of the hospital room and then became unresponsive. Did she see something? I don’t know. It so sad to think about all the people that have come and gone in our lives, many of whom are now dead and gone. We have friends who aren’t Christians, and we have kept them at arms length but have made it very clear about our faith and standards. We have shown Christ’s love to them when we could, but out of the blue, the man’s wife passes away, no warning, nothing. The only thing that happened was she told my wife about two weeks before that she was afraid to die, she didn’t want to die. Another missed opportunity for the sake of not offending. How many more must go to hell before we get off our lazy, comfortable rear ends and start telling people about Christ? My negligence in this area makes me sick…

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  11. Sorry to hear of your lose, my father just passed away this Oct.17. me and my younger brother would set with him day and night after hearing that the reason he was dieing from colin cancer. Yes I miss him so and know that he was a believer. I had asked the Lord to keep him from pain the moment I heard what it was, and he was pretty much as far as I could tell not in much pain even after it spread to his liver then his lungs and then his head. I am so thankful for him and my mother who died in 86, she was 63. and Dad at his death was 85 and loved the Lord.
    But what hurts is not the lose of my parents though I miss them so, but the fact that I have another brother as well who is married and has an son, who allowed me and my younger brother to stay at their place while it all was happening. My older brother is some kind of baptist preacher, ordained. I had to almost beg him to come and stay with Dad while I took off to go see a doctor about some things I have been having problems with. I have a disc out in my neck and something that makes my heart beat hard and rapidly, I know what has caused both.
    He would shuffle my brother back a forth but wouldn’t stay. His wife wouldn’t come, nor his son. Then he would come up with some excuse why he or they wouldn’t come or stay.
    And what hurts is not that they could find time to set in front of the TV laugh at stuff that makes no sense, And his wife had time to read the mountains of book from Joyce Myers. And he had alot of time cause he had no job when all this took place. He went to church every sunday. but right down the road his father was lying there dieing. Dad never did anything to hurt him in anyway.
    I tell you what hurt is the fact that they think they are children of God, but show no signs of being one. And when I would bring up the glory of Gods grace that called me to repentance and claimed none of it as works on my part. That the only day that I could look to that makes me righteous before God is the Day My lord died for me on the cross. And in so doing was rideculed for it. They wont even talk to me. He wanted to know what date I could look to and say I did this and that!
    Yes what hurts is wanting to praise God with someone who is suppose to be a believer and who I love but in fact act like the walking dead, and inside I am angery and hurting. God forgive me.

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  12. Jonathan, I think God tests the limits of our faith and love that some day He can clearly document what happened in our lives. I know that the time I think the worst is over, some new test comes along, and I envy the Christians who seem to pass through life without pushing these limits.

    I have been tested by physical pain, but know that the pain and exhaustion of caring for family members can be harder to recover from. I cared for my parents during their last years and I still haven’t recovered completely.

    It is a blessing to know that your family and parents were Christians. My mother was a Christian and loved by many, but had Alzheimers, and I saw the imperfect side of her as well as her greatness. She died at 87 peacefully in the middle of the night, but I regretted not getting back to the hospital in time to be with her from the night before.

    My 87 father was much more cantankerous Christian, but had finally agreed to stay with my mother in a physical rehab hospital for a few days to give me a much needed break. The next morning he was taken to the emergency room, was in a coma when I got there, while i had to try and interpret a lot of doctor double talk about trying to do surgery on his anuerism or not. The consensus which included an older doctor that I knew was that it would not save him and that he should just stay in a coma and death was soon to come. (There are no Dr. House’s around when you need one.) I still pray I made the right choice by listening to the doctors who seem to have no souls at times like that. I guess it was the hardest day of my life to watch my father die a less than peaceful death.

    It is also frustrating that my mother, due to Alzheimers, could not remember what happened to my father, or even though they were in the same room. She would not remember what happened if she fell or anything else.

    The wonderful thing is that I am at peace that my parents are in God’s hands. Many people tell you they are in a better place like they are already prancing around in new bodies in heaven, and I know how hollow that can sound. I prefer to believe they are getting peaceful sleep until Jesus returns to wage war and take back the Earth.

    I also did not get much support from my brother through all of this, and was torn between gladness that no else had to go through it, glad that my parents were no longer struggling with pain & illness, and also not sure why my brother couldn’t realize how much a little support and relief would have meant during those exhausting times.

    I believe that God has a plan to make it all plain for everyone someday, and to bring people down to a level where they will understand these things in the end. I pray you can forgive your family members and let God take these burdens from you. The Lord knows we are all imperfect humans, need peace, and there is too much real evil in this world to dwell for long on ordinary selfishness.

    GOD Bless You All!

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  13. Yes Hal that is my great hope, that God would work in their hearts and bring our loved ones in as well and resting in his righteousness and his working Spirit and knowing that it is all in His hands and all I can do is give it to Him in prayer knowing His will be done. He is the only thing that keeps me and my heart from falling.
    Praise God.

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  14. I have heard it said that when one is on the verge of passing away, they either smile, or they start fighting. They seem to know. I heard a preacher once say that death was just taking off your jacket and stepping into the glory of God. We don’t know how true this is until we actually experience it, but nice analogy nonetheless. Truly the fields are white and they seem to be no less white than in our own homes and families. I pledge to tell my father about true Biblical repentance before you all. He claims to be a Christian, reads his Bible and goes to church, but I know for a fact, he was never told about his sin and rebellion. But I will before he passes on into damnation.

    Thank you for this story for this reason alone and God willing it brings one man into the light of true repentance and salvation through Jesus the Christ.

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