During the course of our lifetimes there is one event which always seems to be overlooked, not once, but time, and time, and time again, and that is the certain mortality of each and every one of us. That fact hit home again this past week when a dear FB friend (whose name I will not reveal) shared with her coterie of friends a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story. To put it in short form, mom abandoned daughter when she was 13 years of age (I’m guessing some thirty-plus years ago). Daughter (now long married with two smart and beautiful daughters of her own) got a call last Monday that mom was comatose on her death-bed. Daughter hurries to hospital and spends the last hours with mom by her hospital bedside, praying, nurturing and stroking her face and hair as she gently slipped away into the far horizon.

It's a lonely walk sometimes...

It’s a lonely walk sometimes…

Along with scores of other friends, I duly paid my respects, left my prayers and Bible verses, and then went to Chapter Twelve of my book Cloud by Day/Fire by Night to bring recollection back to my own instances of “death bed confessions” and to renew my own committment to the Lord that “a brother or sister in need (especially of spiritual need) is a brother and sister indeed”. As Billy Graham expresses it in Till Armageddon, 1981:
Suffering in life can uncover untold depths of character and unknown strength for service. People who go through life unscathed by sorrow and untouched by pain tend to be shallow in their perspectives on life. Suffering, on the other hand, tends to plow up the surface of our lives to uncover the depths that provide greater strength of purpose and accomplishment. Only deeply plowed earth can yield bountiful harvests.

And with that insight, on then, to the excerpt from Cloud by Day/Fire by Night …


We are all going home one day, the question is, to which home?

The choice is yours just as it is mine, as we read from Joshua 24: “Choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

My mother died in 1979, my father in 1993 and on both occasions I was living in North America, while my sister and assorted relatives manned both deathwatches in England.

It has occurred to me often since then what words I could now have brought to their bedside, what comfort I could have given them on their release. What spiritual blessings I could have given them as they edged closer and closer to their departure from this life to the one on the other side.

Frankly, I don’t know whether they made it to heaven or not, only they and God know that for sure, but I hope and pray that they did.

I AM the way, the truth, and the life...

I AM the way, the truth, and the life…

Since coming to know Christ I certainly have intervened on their behalf, me half-wondering whether they were in some sort of limbo ‘twixt heaven and hell, hanging around expectantly in some sort of holding tank awaiting someone to deliver them. Waiting for someone to introduce them to Jesus Christ and the everlasting life he offers.

At the appointed time we all pass on. For those of us who believe isn’t it a wonderful thought that Jesus will be waiting there across the bridge, his arms outstretched, a smile on his face, beckoning us home? Hallelujah!

In thinking about my folks I’ll oftentimes go to the story of Abraham, Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 where Jesus couldn’t be any more specific about the only two choices of “home” we have.

None of us know the appointed time of our home-going but we do know that the only way to get to heaven is through Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

Now a born-again man I sometimes re-live those bedside vigils in my mind and how I would gently whisper into those departing ears the wonder, majesty and grace of having a living Savior awaiting us on the other side.

A loving heavenly father within whose embrace we find …

Abiding Comfort

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want …

onward go, O gentle one, the appointed time is come,
Hearken to your Master’s voice as He quietly calls you home.
Onward go, and don’t hold back, there’s nothing there to fear,
Just let Him bring you slowly on and draw you gently near.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures …

onward go, O gentle one, and tarry here no more,
Just quietly slip away to Him beyond that Heavenly door.
Onward go, and take it in, the wonder of it all,
That holy mansion waiting there beside that jeweled wall.

He leadeth me beside the still waters …

onward go, O gentle one, go freely to His care,
As in His tender arms you’ll rest, His soothing words to hear.
Onward go, and bathe yourself in His almighty light,
That He might bless you with His love – a healing Heavenly sight!

He restoreth my soul …

onward go, O gentle one, your cares and woes are gone,
Go forward now and join yourself with God’s Anointed One.
Onward go, receive the prize that’s offered from above,
His Heavenly grace and mercy clothed in God’s almighty love.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake …

onward go, O gentle one, the final race is won,
Forget you now, those many times when you felt lost and lone.
Onward go, He’s waiting there, no time for you to waste,
Release yourself but skip ye well, don’t stumble in your haste!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

onward go, O gentle one, think well of what you’ve done,
You stood the test and stayed the course and now the victory’s won.
Onward go, salvation’s yours, He’s waiting at the door,
And now you’ll dwell in peace and love with Him for evermore!

I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me 

onward go, O gentle one and leave this world behind,
And take your Savior’s offered hand, His blessed peace to find.
Onward go, and take your seat beside Him there to dwell,
And let the breath of Heaven soothe your final earth farewell!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thy anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over;
surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever …

Psalm 23 (See also Psalm 4 and Psalm 6)


somewhere beyond the shadows they heard the beckoning call,
and taking the hand that was offered, they quietly left us all…

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless O abide with me ..

I need they presence, every passing hour,
what but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee,
in life, in death, O Lord abide with me ..



In the years since I penned these words (intertwined with Psalm 23 of course) I have been given the privilege of releasing and sending more than a few people off across the divide into the presence of our Lord and Savior. Especially so in hospitals, when people have been attached to life-support systems with very little chance of survival were they not on such machines. Death-bed confessions I must admit, are not really my forte, but when you remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus it certainly brings a lot of things into perspective. I remember one time Mark Rutland coming to Dallas and telling the story of when he was a young pastor at a small country church in Georgia, being called to the local hospital at two in the morning. When he got there his elderly congregant was comatose on the bed, and the attending nurse informed Pastor Rutland that the other family members had been alerted and were on their way. Settling down by the bedside, he began to read some scriptures and quietly pray for the patient. All of a sudden quite out of the blue, the octogenarian gentleman sat bolt upright in the bed, raised both arms as high as he could, needles and tubes flying everywhere, yelled out at the top of his lungs “OH! But it’s beautiful!” and fell back on the bed as dead as a doorbolt. Talk about an instant send-off! Paul, from I Corinthians 15:54-58:

Constantly surrounded by angels ..

Constantly surrounded by angels ..

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory .. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law .. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ .. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”


In closing, Billy Graham once again, from Till Armageddon, 1981:
Ours may be the heritage of the witheld promises. We have been blessed through the endurance and faithfulness of those who have suffered in the past; the people around us, or those who will succeed us, may be blessed through our trials and suffering and how we react to them.

Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

Soli Deo Gloria!


Source: Cloud by Day/Fire by Night Copyright (c) 2001/2011 by Dennis G Hurst