I don't generally like visiting in hospital, I find the oddness of the situation makes for stilted conversation, certainly from my side anyway. But sometimes you are aware that something very precious and hard to explain is going on. I had a couple of visits like that earlier this month, visiting one of the old men from the church.
At the first one speaking was clearly hard work for him. He gasped out whispered sentences with long pauses for recovery. Hearing him was hard because the fellow next door was deaf, or else was being treated for shouting the whole time.
After a while I felt that I ought to leave him to rest as it was clearly hard work for him. I prayed for him and as he held my hand he whispered the words of his favourite hymn, "In heavenly love abiding".
The second visit saw him hardly stir. He was sedated and very tired and I just sat with him a while and prayed quietly for him. He showed some signs of stirring when I quietly hummed a hymn to him as if he was doing all he could to respond but it was clear the end was very close. I silently said my goodbye to him and the following morning he passed away.
John Wesley said of his people that they died well. John was 97 and he died as he lived, thankful to God for all he did for him and trusting him right up to the end. In a couple of hours I will be conducting his funeral. It is a privilege.
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