Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Homecoming Prayer

I don’t remember if she was in the hospital when we arrived for the Labor Day Weekend festivities, but suddenly we were at the hospital. She was weak and thin, and seemed more frail than anyone I had ever seen. Jerry and I waited in the hallway of the ICU.

The feeling of nausea was familiar, but seemed out of place now that I was past the second trimester of my first pregnancy. The nagging pain in my heart contrasted sharply with the butterfly kicks of the fetus within. “She will be fine,” I told myself as I prayed that this child would get to meet her great-grandmother. 

I knew that Mama Rene would want to see her only grandchild’s baby more than anything else in the world. I saw my mother standing a few feet away from the bed when they waved me into the private room. I was glad that she had stepped away to give me a few minutes with Mama Rene. Someone had combed her hair and helped her apply fresh lipstick. She smiled that serene smile that had comforted me all my life as she said, “It’s time for me to go home now.”

“Well, good,” I said. “I’m so glad you are getting to come home.” She really looked so much better than earlier that afternoon. Her eyes were shining and the color in her cheeks had returned. Her sweet smile did not betray the true meaning of her words. “I have to go home now, Sweetheart. I am so happy about going home, and I want you to be happy, too.” She asked me to give her a kiss, and I teased her that I would be giving her a great big kiss just as soon as we got her back in her own bed at home.

How odd it seemed that she should close her eyes. She didn’t laugh at my teasing and her smile faded as her face relaxed. Suddenly the nurses were entering the room. Jerry was pushing me out into the hallway, and my mother was sobbing, “No, no.”

Oh, that “home!”  She did not mean her earthly home, but the home of her precious Lord Jesus. She knew she was going to a glorious home that she could not describe. She was happy to go, and I knew that she had wanted us to let her go as peacefully as possible.

Later than night, Jerry and I slept in her bed. There were only two bedrooms in her house where I had spent most of my childhood. The hardwood floors were smooth and worn, and the walls were the same soft green that I had always known. My parents were in the other bedroom. I didn’t think I could sleep there, but somehow I had fallen into a deep sleep. The dream began immediately as if there were only a few minutes to accomplish a night’s work. The creamy green mixed with clouds of white. A misty wind blew gently around me as I floated up and up and up. I was aware that someone above me was watching intently as I ascended. There was nothing to fear. I felt relaxed as if I were sleeping peacefully in my own bed.

She could see the unborn baby through the flesh of my abdomen, and she was beaming with pride. I couldn’t see her clearly, but I knew the familiar look of unconditional love that had always favored me. She was rejoicing at the miracle of seeing her great-grandchild for the first time. I could feel the presence of His hand pushing gently into my body. There was no pain, just a feeling of awe as I realized that His unseen hand was holding the tiniest foot. Slowly, my baby’s foot was lifted up. There was an odd static unrest in the air above me. I could hear whispered words, but not clearly enough to understand what she was saying. She had been allowed to see something that was still hidden from my view. His other hand slowly covered the toes and wrapped around the fingers that held my baby’s foot. It took only a second, and then things were back to normal. I was waking up as the dim morning light made soft shadows on the creamy green walls.

I remember waking Jerry, but I didn’t tell him about the dream. I just cried quietly in his arms. He comforted me in his easy way unaware of the wonderful dream. I’m sure he thought that facing the first day without my grandmother was reason enough for me to cry. With fingers of curiosity, I gently rubbed my stomach. The baby inside slept peacefully. When Candi was born months later, there was an odd little birthmark on the bottom of her foot just below the toes. The blue-pink marking was the only sign of the miracle that I held deep within my heart. She pranced upon those toes as she began walking. She danced on those toes in frilly pink costumes. She cheered and tumbled her way through high school and college on the foot that was healed by our Creator at the prayer of her great-grandmother on a miraculous night.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. At His side and in the familiar conversation of one who prayed continually, her request for healing was granted. She was home indeed! And I had witnessed the glory of it all in a beautiful dream. What joy to know that He had given her the desire of her heart on the day of her home coming. She would not have left this earth without seeing that baby born except to enter into His presence. He allowed her to see without any limitation, so clearly that she could see the tiny physical flaw. She saw beyond the timeless boundaries and spoke her request in faith to Him. He healed the child inside the womb based on the faith of this new celestial citizen. What compassion He shows us even in miraculous moments of peaceful sleep.

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8

LORD, thank you for your promise to those who have chosen to accept your gift of salvation that we will be present with you when we leave this earth. The fear of leaving our human bodies cannot compare with the joy of being with you for all eternity. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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