The Palm Sunday I Was With the Angels in the Hospital – Part 2
A Testimony of the Comfort of the Holy Spirit in Troubled Times
Continued from Part 1
Ever wonder if God speaks today?* If so, read on.
Day 3: Sunday, April 13, 2003
As I woke up at my mother’s home I remembered it was Palm Sunday. My mother and siblings were getting ready to go to the hospital. As I was dressing, I prayed and was asking God to help me through the day, no matter what it held. I then had an unusual impression that I should stop at the morning service at my parent’s Church, Pilgrim Congregational Church (Green Bay, Wisconsin), which I had attended with them during my teen years. It didn’t seem like a very good idea, but I couldn’t shake the notion. My siblings and mother left for the hospital and I went to church. My newfound zeal for faith, and the growing sense that I was being called to ministry in mid-life was still somewhat of a mystery to my siblings (and to me!), and this would not have been a choice that made much sense to them. Under the circumstances, they would have viewed it as a waste of time. However, I felt the impression was from the Holy Spirit, so I obeyed it regardless of the fallout. I also thought I could inform my parent’s Pastor of my dad’s sudden, grave illness.
The Word of the Lord
I slipped into the balcony of the church, late and anxious to get to the hospital. As I listened and read along with the Gospel reading from Luke 19: 28-38 (TLB) it was as if God’s Word came to life when the Pastor spoke the phrase, “The Lord needs him!” from the Palm Sunday narrative. Those words were referencing the directive Jesus gave to his disciples to go and secure a colt for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem for the triumphant entry. However, they seemed like invisible dynamite, which exploded in my spirit. I carefully wrote them down, realizing that the Holy Spirit was trying to communicate with me. I felt the sweet, sweet presence of the Holy Spirit with me during the entire service. After mentioning my dad’s condition to the Pastor, I quickly departed for the hospital.
When I arrived, the news about my dad’s condition had gone from bad to worse. After consulting with the doctors, my mother made the difficult decision to have my father removed from life support, according to the directives in his living will. At the moment I was told of that decision, the words from that’s morning’s Palm Sunday Bible narrative came flooding back into my memory. Untie the colt because “The Lord needs him!” I gasped audibly, as the Holy Spirit’s presence seemed to speak inside me in his still small voice. “I need him,” God seemed to whisper in my heart. In a split second, the thought came over and over, that even as Jesus had needed a little colt to ride into Jerusalem, He now needed my Dad in heaven. My Dad was being ‘untied’, in a sense, from the life-support machines so that he could be ushered into God’s presence in heaven.
As children, our family owned several horses on our hobby farm, and my Dad had loved our pet horses, so the analogy with the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem was extra special to me. I didn’t weep at the news, I simply gasped and said, “Praise the Lord!” It was an unusual reaction to those who didn’t know the tremendous, sweet spiritual revelation I had received for the past two days. Nevertheless, it was my genuine reaction. I desperately wanted my earthly Dad to stay on the earth longer with me and I had prayed my best prayers that he would recover, but my heavenly father had made it clear that He had other plans. So, with His help, I was able to surrender to His will and release my Dad to Him.
Saying Goodbye In the Presence of Angels
Over the next several hours, each of our family members were given the opportunity to say goodbye to our precious Dad, Hobart Harlan DeCaster, before he departed from his broken, earthly body on April 13, 2003 at the age of 78. My wonderful Dad, a WWII hero and B-17 pilot, faithful husband of over 50 years to our Mom, tremendous provider, faithful friend to many and loving Dad, was now taking his last flight home.
I was the only one of our family members who stayed in the hospital room, as a male nurse** disconnected the life support machines. As I kneeled beside his bed holding his hand, I sang our favorite old hymns, recited Psalms, and thanked my Dad for being a wonderful father. I prayed in the Spirit, I prayed in natural language. I sang in the Spirit, I sang in natural language. I was filled with peace. The nurse asked me how I could have such peace and I simply shared my testimony of salvation with him, as my Dad was preparing to depart. Like I had, the nurse had grown up with a tradition of church attendance, but was not sure he had a personal faith in Jesus Christ yet. He was clearly considering what I said in that hour. Of course I wept, but my tears were mixed with joy and I was consoled in my grief by the peaceful presence of the Holy Spirit. After all, he had revealed to me that my Dad had a personal escort to heaven on angel’s wings that Palm Sunday.
It was a Palm Sunday that I’ll never, ever forget. How about you? Have you grown up with a tradition of faith, but you still haven’t committed your whole heart and life to Jesus Christ by faith? It is as simple as a heartfelt prayer. Palm Sunday is a great day to come home to Jesus.
* For more Biblical teaching and testimonies about the gifts and guidance of the Holy Spirit check out my book, GOD SPEAKS: The Guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts & Today, available on my website at https://janetdecaster.com
** This past year, 2017, I ran into that same nurse on a visit to the same hospital in my hometown, when my mother, now aged 89 was ill. He made a point of reintroducing himself and said that he remembered the day my Dad died. He said he’d never experienced anything like what happened in the room that day, before or since. I thanked him for his respectful and compassionate care for our father as he died. He was a wonderful healthcare provider, and a real blessing to our family at a terribly difficult time.