August 16, 2014
A week ago Friday, we were able to have a precious time with Professor Frank Rice at his lovely care facility in Tacoma, Washington.
What a privilege, what a lesson in life, and what a strengthening of our own outlook on aging and completing our journey here in this life!
It has often been said, “finishing well is more important than just starting well”. And in God, the final proof of our ending well is revealed in and by the Spirit. No matter what comes to this physical house in which we have lived, it is the inner man of the spirit that never dies, being renewed day by day. (Ephesians 3:16)
We were told that Professor Rice might not remember or recognize us at all; that a very good day would be when he tried to speak. Yet with all of this, we felt the trip would still be very valuable and hoped for something good from the Lord.
For those who knew him well, you will agree Professor Rice was very subdued in manner; showing a mere raising of the eyebrows or trace of a smile when he was pleased. His words of positive surprise would be something like this … “Well … well.”
On the day we visited, he was standing at the luncheon counter. A friendly nurse ushered us in behind her, and called out, “Frank, there’s someone here to see you.”
The aged gentleman turned his head slowly; looking in our direction.
Well, well,” he said, instinctively lifting his eyebrows in weak but sweet remembrance. When that genuine but guarded smile appeared, we were satisfied connection had been made with our dear brother. Thank you, Jesus!
Embracing, we directed him towards a table to share the valley ripened fruits we’d brought. I attempted to seat him, but he refused, extending his hand for us to be seated first; then took a chair last and seated himself. (His courteous and gracious spirit remained ageless! Wow, isn’t God good and faithful? I’M ENCOURAGED!)
Continuing this dignity, the Professor sampled only one slice each of the fruits we’d brought, chuckling when I asked if he’d had fruit that good in the South. Then carefully pushing the food aside, he fastened full attention on Dale who was now pouring forth words of love and appreciation for all his godly influence upon our lives.
What a joy to be together in such levels of love and fellowship of the Spirit!
Several times Professor Rice endeavored to engage in conversation, mentioning loved ones, as well as his desire and prayer for peace and goodness to result in various observable needs in other situations, and saying, “Well, we just trust everything will work out for the good.”
We wanted to go to the Professor’s private room for a time of prayer and to leave some of our music for him. I asked him if he could take us to his room. He gestured a sweet chuckle of embarrassment, acknowledging he did not know which way to go.
I (Rita) reached out my hand for his, hoping to lead him in looking for the nurse. First, he extended his hand for what he recognized to be a Christian handshake, and then withdrew it. When I reached for his hand again, he stretched it out, pointing the way ahead and that I should go before him wherever we were going … but neither did I know the way!
What an endearing little experience I had in trying to get “both of us to a place that neither of us knew how to find!” Ha!
When Dale returned with CDs from the car, we hailed the friendly nurse to our aid. Professor Rice yielded to the lead of the nurse and we followed behind.
The more I pondered this life that Professor Rice now lives, the more my heart was comforted.
In every way, this man still communicated clearly and brightly the THREE THINGS THAT ABIDE … “FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE!” (I Cor. 3:13)
Upon departing, we embraced in a circle as Dale led in a precious spirit of prayer … all to which Professor Rice appeared deeply connected and moved. When we said “Amen,” the eighty-seven year old professor’s eyes brimmed with tears of desire for the Eternal Day of which Dale prayed.
We will meet again!
Let us take courage and pray that we shall all become perfectly one, anticipating That Glorious Day together.