by Rebecca Price Janney @rebpricejanney
The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. Isaiah 41:17-18 NIV
In his late 90s, in declining health, legally blind and stone deaf, my dad wasn’t shy about discussing death. I planned to be with him when the time came, holding his hand, singing a favorite hymn, reading from his worn Bible.
We didn’t see Covid-19 roaring down the pike.
I usually visited Dad on Thursdays, but on Wednesday March 11th I couldn’t shake a thought, “Go now.” I went. The following day the facility closed to all visitors. Not until April 15th did I see Dad’s face again, on a video call. His face brightened upon seeing me, but his listlessness and sallow complexion were concerning. The following day an ambulance took him to the hospital. The doctor told me, “Both lungs are filled with fluid. His heart and kidneys are failing.” Dad tested positive for Covid-19. He said he didn’t want them to try to save him. He wanted to go Home.
“I want to see him.”
“No visitors are allowed, but let me see what I can do.”
I found myself in a desert with no water. God’s Word, however, promises to make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Isaiah 41: 17-18 (NIV) says, “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.”
True to His Word, the Lord answered my desperate thirst to be with my father. That Friday my son and I donned masks and stood outside Dad’s hospital room, speaking to him over house phones. Dad told me, “I think my time’s about up. I’m not afraid, and you don’t be afraid either. I’m ready for the Lord to take me.” I wanted to say a prayer or the 23rd Psalm, but I was in the hallway shouting because he didn’t have his hearing aids. Not the final conversation I’d imagined.
I did say, “I guess I’ll see you in heaven Dad.” He answered, ” That will be nice.”
The next day we spoke briefly on the phone, and on Sunday I called again, but he didn’t answer. He was by then on heavy pain medication. A few minutes later, however, my phone rang and to my amazement, it was Dad! “Did you just call me?” he asked, his mind was clear, although his voice was slurred.
“Yes. I’m so glad you called me back.”
“What’s up?” I had to smile; he always asked me that at the start of a phone call.
“I’m wondering how you are.”
“I don’t know why I’m still here,” he said. “Why doesn’t the Lord take me?”
“As you always told me,” I said, “you’re a tough old bird.” Then growing somber, “You’re walking through the valley of the shadow, and I can’t be with you, but Jesus is.” Dad spoke of Jesus’ suffering, and I said, “Look how that turned out.” After ten minutes we told each other “I love you.”
He died the next morning.
I couldn’t get that phone call out of my mind. There was something otherworldly about it. I asked a nurse on his floor about the phone he used. “They’re very basic,” she said, ” no caller ID or automatic redial.”
“Did someone help him make the call?”
Often when I’d called Dad before, he had difficulty even hearing the ringer. At the hospital he didn’t have his glasses or his hearing aids, yet somehow he heard that phone ring, sensed it was me, and made what humanly speaking was an impossible call to speak to me one last time.
God had arranged for us springs in a very dry valley.
About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of 23 published books including Golden Scroll Historical Novel of the Year, Easton at the Crossroads, and her newest, Sweet, Sweet Spirit, a story of revival during a time of crisis in America. Her podcast, Inspiration from American History, can be found at Anchor.fm.rebeccapricejanney, and information about her books at www.rebeccapricejanney.com. Rebecca lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with her husband, teenage son, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of twenty-three books including the Golden Scroll 2019 Historical Novel of the Year, Easton at the Crossroads, and her newest book, Sweet Sweet Spirit: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the Asbury College Revival. She shares her love of American history and the Lord at speaking engagements and through her podcast, “Inspiring Stories from American History.” She lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with her husband, teenage son, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Join the conversation: Has God ever unexpectedly supplied a spring in the desert for you?