The party was over. here The phone that had been ringing without stop grew silent over the next few weeks. We forwarded all calls to the main headquarters. We did our best to honor the requests of the officials to keep the details of our departure unspoken.
Meanwhile, the pastor pursued a Vineyard church affiliation. Several of us from the office staff started going to a local midweek small group. It was refreshing to interact with others of like belief in God and His Spirit. The threat of reprisal was gone. Vineyard worship songs brought healing to our souls. Individual prayer ministry and prophetic words continued to confirm God was leading us.
At home Mike was silent. He asked few questions nor showed any interest in knowing the details of my new church experience. The pain was intense. Why did following Jesus have to be so hard?
In March 1989, I got another call from my mother. “Your Daddy isn’t doing well. Between diabetes and his heart issues he is battling for his life. I can’t care for him alone. Ginny and Becky are coming to help me,” she said. “He is on morphine, and it’s causing him to hallucinate and fight. We are trying to keep him calm. He doesn’t want to be at the hospital.”
I could hear her stifled sobs on the phone. I wanted to be there on the one hand, but on the other, I couldn’t stand the idea of seeing my daddy in pain and weakness. “Am I supposed to go or not Father?” I didn’t know. What I did know was that Mike and Sarah would not be happy about me leaving. Our home was already in turmoil.
“Father, help me make sense out of all this and know what You consider valuable. Help me walk in obedience to Your light and not submit to my fears.” I cried out to Him for answers. Only He could make sense of all this.
Several days later the heavy cloud of unknown lifted and peace came. I knew it was time to go to Santa Barbara.
I flew out the next day and spent several days there. I took turns at ‘chair duty,’ watching to see if Daddy needed anything. My sisters and mom had his personal needs down to a science. So, I cleaned house, helped with some of the cooking. I also manned the phone to answer questions of family and friends. It required retelling Daddy’s current condition over and over. They needed to hear, but it was exhausting.
Daddy was in and out of lucid consciousness. At one of those times, I leaned over the bed to tell Daddy how much I loved him. He reached up and wrapped his arms around me. “You are my beautiful ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’ I am so proud of you.” All I could do was weep.
While I loved my Mom, Daddy and I shared experiences that bound us together. When I was still in grammar school, Daddy sometimes woke me early and took me fishing before school hours. We’d fish off Fisherman’s Warf and then go out for pancakes. Everybody at the restaurant knew Daddy. They called him ‘Chooch.’ He was well liked, and since I was ‘Chooch’s’ daughter, I was treated like royalty. (Our family name was Tsoutsouvas, pronounced: Chew-chew-vus. Thus, ‘Chooch’ was born.)
Our family loved singing together, and road trips were a favorite time to do so. Often when my siblings and mom fell asleep, I sat behind Daddy and the two of us sang songs together. Sweet memories that will linger forever.
Daddy had been the only one in my family who understood and supported my decision when I left the church. While he was an elder in the church, he had wrestled with some of the same ‘why’s’ that I had for years.
It was so hard to leave him yet, I told Mike I would only be gone a few days. So, on Good Friday I flew home carrying a broken heart. I knew I would never feel my Daddy’s arms around me again in this life.
On Monday after Easter, I woke up knowing that Daddy was with Jesus. I felt his absence and wasn’t surprised when my brother called to say he’d passed in the night.
By Wednesday, I was back on the plane flying out for his funeral.
The following Sunday I was with our little group at home. We met for worship in a school gymnasium. I was sitting in the front row listening to the pastor preach. Without fanfare, a vision opened before me.
There was Daddy, dressed in a white short-sleeved sports shirt and wearing dark slacks. He looked so young and handsome. His appearance reminded me of some of his college pictures.
He was walking away from me on a path. There was light all around him and before him. He turned and looked back at me with a big smile on his face. I knew he was in heaven. He was free of pain. He was full of joy.
Tears flowed unabated, but my heart rejoiced. I knew God allowed me to see Daddy and I felt settled in my spirit that he was with Him. Again, God surprised me with His love. He didn’t have to show me, but He did.
~~ How About You? ~~
Has God been gracious to give you visions or dreams that brought understanding or peace? Or maybe He’s surprised you with a word. Maybe your child said something or you heard something over the radio etc. Whatever it was, it registered deep, released relief or changed your perspective.
Job 33:14-16 For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.
Acts 9:10-15 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Take some time and thank Him for any visions or instructions He’s given.
If you are in a quandary about something, ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him for His perspective. Ask Him for strategy.
James 4:2 says that we don’t receive the things we need (physically or spiritually) because we fail to ask God for them. He is able to supply all we need.
I’d love to hear your story. Please leave a comment. Thanks.