Yesterday I spent the afternoon saying goodbye to a very special man. He spent 91 years on earth before graduating from this life. The church was packed with young and old. His quiver was full. In the first few rows sat his wife of 64 years, his four children with their spouses, 13 grand children with their spouses and 7 great grandchildren.
It was a day to celebrate his life. A day to remember all the ways he touched so many. A day to say goodbye and shed some tears while at the same time laughing at the stories told. A day that was special and touching and I was left with some treasures to add to my life… even after he’d gone.
Three of his grandchildren spoke beautifully on his behalf. The first shared a profound message that he had imparted to her in the recent weeks before his passing.
Bill had been experiencing severe back pain which made it difficult to sleep or play golf. One evening lying in bed, the pain had become almost unbearable. He decided to put into practice what he had encouraged his family to do for many years… count his blessings.
Bill laid in his bed and began to count his blessings and think deeply about each one of them. He started with his beautiful wife and thought about all of the glorious moments they had together. That was one. The pain seemed to diminish a bit, but was still there. He continued to remember (and count!) each of his four children… then moving on to each of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Gradually as he remembered and counted, his pain continued to lessen. When he had counted 68 blessings (yes, he counted and kept track of each one of them) his pain was completely gone. He was able to sleep. The wisdom that he shared with his family over the years really does work. For Bill, it took 68 blessings to take away back pain!
Shortly after that he was diagnosed with bone cancer… the cause of the extreme pain. God knew the excruciating battle that this husband, father and grandfather would fight, and graciously chose to take him home shortly there after. What he left behind is a legacy that goes deep and has forever changed the lives of his family and those of us that have had the privilege of being a part of that.
Life throws us curve balls. Our best laid plans don’t come to fruition. We are told to be thankful amidst the difficulties… praise Him in the storm. That is just what Bill did. Lying in his quiet bed one evening near the end of his life, he counted his blessings – one after the other. That simple act allowed him to focus on what was most important… not the pain that seemed daunting and overwhelming. God pulled him above his suffering and allowed him to experience the joy of being thankful… and the power of counting his blessings.