On a crisp fall day about 12 years ago, I sat in the doctor’s office with my older brother, Marcus, and his wife. Marcus had been experiencing trouble with his breathing and he knew that something wasn’t right. After going through a series of tests, he asked me to be with him that day when the doctor delivered the news–
It was bad. He had a rare form of throat cancer. It was especially ironic that it was his voice that would be robbed from him – for people who knew Marcus, they know he loved to talk and laugh and he traveled around the world speaking hope into people’s lives.
It was devastating to all of us, but Marcus ended up being the rock for our entire family during his sickness.
Over a year later, we all knew that the end of his life was near. The moments were slipping by.
One warm day, his older brother had gone out and bought him a beautiful new sweater and soft pants. Marcus wanted to take pictures with the family – he understood the importance of these precious last few moments and he smiled quietly as he hugged on all of us. After our pictures, our family went and sat in a beautiful little garden area outside of the hospice. It was pure peace. There was a gentle breeze and birds were chirping. My mom held her son’s hand.
This could have been a dark moment, but we chose to concentrate on the only thing that keeps us going throughout our lives – we connected with God. We started softly singing old worship songs (and of course, I sobbed my way through each song.)
I will never forget the beautiful peace that came over us as we took our focus off of the pain Marcus and our whole family was facing. We focused on the power of the presence of God. It was healing. We seemed to hear sweet angels singing in the breeze around us- it wouldn’t have surprised me. As the shadows lengthened over the garden we ended our time that afternoon laughing and remembering old memories. Marcus slipped away a day later, peacefully and with no regrets. He met God face to face.
Fast forward to 7 years later. Ironically, again, I was with my Dad and Mom at the hospital the day he was diagnosed with a terminal disease – it progressed rapidly. One night, three weeks after his diagnosis, he had received a ‘Hail Mary’ radical treatment. It didn’t go well - I will never forget the tremendous pain Dad faced in his recovery room, going in and out of consciousness. We felt helpless.
We were desperate to connect with God – to feel His peace. So, one by one, each of us gathered around our Dad’s hospital bed and started singing softly. Our feeble singing got stronger as we lifted our voices, singing every old beautiful song we could remember. It was precious.
And kind of mind-blowing. As we sang, we watched our Dad slowly stop twisting in pain. Something powerful happened to the atmosphere in that room – His face relaxed and even though his eyes had not opened yet, he started singing to himself. What can only be described as peace came over the room. My Dad passed away a few days later, but he left this earth surrounded with peace and knowing that God would greet him, saying Well done, my good and faithful servant. Ultimate peace and joy.
When we’re facing our darkest moments, God wants us to connect with him. We are so fortunate to be able to go to churches and small groups that have fabulous worship music, but we also have the great privilege to connect with God on a daily basis.
His presence can change the atmosphere in our own homes. One young woman I was close to struggled with fear at night – she would often wake up from night terrors and bad dreams. I suggested playing worship music in her room as she drifted to sleep. Or even when she woke up feeling fearful, to turn the music on. It was a powerful way to change the atmosphere in her room. Her bad dreams slowly stopped. She overcame the fear that had been surrounding her with the power of the presence of God.
If we’re struggling with dark thoughts or depression, we can find peace in the presence of God. When we lift our eyes off of our situation and focus on loving and worshiping God, He alone is able to connect with us and bring us peace and hope.
Our nation has faced so much tragedy over the past few years and even more so over the past few months. So many lives have been ended by terror and unthinkable attacks. Where can we find peace in a world that holds so much fear?
Last week, Carrie Underwood sang a tribute to the victims of the senseless attack in Las Vegas. She sang “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling…ye who are weary come home.” Her husband later posted on social media “Hard to put words to this moment last night…You could feel the Lord’s presence.” So chilling.
Jesus is calling us to draw near to Him. Jesus told us in John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. When you feel lost, draw near. When you feel alone, draw near. When you are confused with the world we live in, He’s waiting. Connect with a God who loves you.
My husband, Randy inherited that beautiful sweater that Marcus wore in our family pictures. He’s taken good care of it and he still wears it for the special times that he wants to feel favor from God. I think that it’s a reminder that God is close to us whenever we need to connect. He’s there. In the midst of losing a loved one. In the midst of fear. In the midst of feeling alone. In this crazy world, God is waiting for you to connect when life is too hard to comprehend.
Just like Randy puts on the sweater when he wants to be reminded of my brother’s legacy, spending time in worship is a powerful way to turn around the atmosphere in your home and in your life.
The presence of God can fill your home with His peace and warmth. It’s like a cozy fireplace or a big soft sweater.
Come home to the presence of God because He’s waiting for you.
There is nothing like our God.