by Joyce Park
In summer of 2019, I was in VA with my kids visiting a close family friend. We had one more day left in our trip before heading back to Korea, and it happened to be my 41st birthday. As we excitedly got ready to take our girls to a musical called “Amazing Grace,” I received a text from a stranger.
The text was in Korean and if I were to translate, it said, “Your dad is in critical condition in ICU. The doctor said that he may not make it through the night. You should come quickly”. This abrupt text quickly turned this day into chaos, trying to change our flight last minute to get to Chicago as fast as I can with two kids. When we got to Chicago O’Hare, it was 1:00 a.m. and my kids were both sleeping in the airplane, and I was already worn out trying to physically get to where my dad was. Then something inside of me said, “It started. Be on guard and be alert!”
To give you a little bit of background, I was diagnosed with a thyroid cancer 6 months prior to this incident. And when I was in the hospital making an appointment to get the surgery for July 16, 2019 by the doctor both my husband I come to trust, something inside of me said “You will not get this surgery!”. ‘How strange!’, I thought. ‘Did I make that up? Did my husband hear that, too? Am I afraid to get the surgery? I have to wait 6 months to get this surgery from the doctor we’ve both come to trust. Why wouldn’t I get the surgery if I have a cancer that can possibly grow and spread?’ Thoughts flew in and out of my mind by second and I prayed, “Lord, I take every thought captive and bring them before you to be obedient!” All of a sudden my mind became silent, and over the next few weeks I’ve come to realize that Holy Spirit wanted my full and undivided attention for something I would have to be prepared for but had no idea of.
My diagnosis opened up a long, on-going conversation with Jesus which became very intimate and detailed at times. And for the next 6 months Holy Spirit led me to specific Bible verses to meditate and hide them in my heart. It’s like He’s imprinted pictures in my heart regarding these Bible passages so that He can remind me again and again. What started out as asking whether I should get the surgery or not, whether God would heal me with the surgery or without the surgery, slowly turned to a genuine desire to know and follow what He wanted and what His will was. I really didn’t want to miss anything He wanted. I wanted what He wanted!
John 12:24-25 NIV
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (plentiful harvest of new lives -NLT). The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity-NLT)
When my prayers were still about healing, Holy Spirit kept reminding me of this verse with a picture in my heart. It’s a small seed falling into the ground dying, producing many new seeds. One day the picture changed-the small seed was Jesus and I was among the many new seeds. Then later on, I was the seed and there were many new lives around. God said, “I am after them.” Thus the intimate conversation continued regarding Him wanting to save and it no longer was about my physical condition. And in order for me to be on the same page with the Lord, “caring nothing for my life in this world”, He referred me to:
2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
1Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s WILL for you in Christ Jesus.”
Six months fast forwarded, God confirmed through three different occasions/people “You won’t get THIS (7/16/2019) surgery”, but not “You won’t need a surgery”. With that Daniel and I cancelled the surgery in peace and continued seeking Him for his leading.
The thing is that, my dad was someone I had the hardest time loving my whole life, a difficult homework, and a heavy burden my entire life. My dad was an abusive alcoholic who caused so much pain, trouble, shame, and separation for the whole family. My one desire as a teenager was to move away as far as I can and never see him again or end my life with a letter addressed to him hoping he would change for the better. Over the years, God kept asking me to forgive him, take care of him, protect him, and love him. So I tried again and again, most of the times in grudging obedience and against my other family members’ wish. I was a clogged pipe with small openings for years!
I was the only family member who called him, checked up on him, visited him, helped him, and have any relationship with him because deep inside of my heart I knew God loved him and He was not done with him. And here I was with my dad laying all alone, unconscious with all sorts of tubes through his bruised and swollen body. The day I dreaded even imagining came without any warning. Yet my heart ached so much with love for my earthly father I couldn’t love my entire life, I knew immediately it was beyond me. It was the Holy Spirit in me.
Out of the ten days I drove to the hospital, somehow the GPS led me to take different exits and routes almost everyday which led me to places I shared painful memories with my dad in the past. I cried uncontrollably every time I drove by these places then one day the Lord said, “You thought no one knew but there was never a time I was not with you. I love you and I love your dad!” Then He gently but firmly reminded me of the seed dying, the line that divides the seen(temporal) and the unseen (eternal), and that in His Love, He’s prepared me for all those months to intercede for my earthly father who was so broken and stubborn. God surely was after my dad! He did not give up on him!
The spiritual battle was fierce in that ICU room over my dad’s life. And moment by moment, I asked continually and chose to do God’s will for my life according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I read the scripture close to his ears, prayed for him the whole time and told him it’s still not too late to repent and ask Jesus to help him, save him! My dad was not in any condition to respond clearly and he took his last breath around 8pm on July 10, 2019. With so much grief, I cried and cried. Then the Lord calmed me with this message that flowed in straight to my heart, “Everything that needed to be done for him has been done and everything that needed to be said to him has been said. Now take rest! And thank you for forgiving him so that I was able to love Him through you!”
There are many things I cannot explain that happened in that ICU room and beyond. But, oh, the joy this world cannot give and the peace this world has no knowledge of! My sorrow turned to thanksgiving with unexplainable joy and peace knowing and being sure of God, my heavenly Father who is always good and perfect in everything He does. I needed not ask but to rest in Him! My dad’s cremated remains returned to my possession on 7/16/2019, the day when I was “supposed” to get my thyroid surgery. Of course I couldn’t have gotten the surgery!
- In His love, God pursues people to save them eternally! His perfect love can flow through us like a clean pipe, so He is asking us to forgive. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Have you ever experienced forgiveness from another peson? Please share.
- Are there people who have hurt you or offended you? Did you forgive them? Perhaps you are angry with yourself or even with God.
- Is your pipe clogged with any other residues that is hindering the Spirit of God to move freely through you?
- This can be rather very personal. Let’s ask the Lord to reveal to us of any unforgiveness in our hearts that is hindering us from letting His Love and Life flow through us.
- Let’s pray for our church families to experience the forgiveness of Christ, the healing and freedom that come from Jesus Himself. Let’s also pray that we will choose to “bear with each other and forgive one another of any grievances as the Lord forgave us”. So that we can minister to one another and to others whom the Spirit wants to reach and save!