The Final Masterpiece
September 18, 2021
Two weeks previous, Dad said that September 5th, the day he was baptized, was the “best day ever.”
But on this night, September 18th, Dad got a new "best day ever," and one that will never be topped.
At 10:14pm on Saturday the 18th, my Dad's greatest dream came true, as he left us to be with the Savior that he was so giddy to meet in person for the previous 6 weeks. If only we could have see the look on his face and the tears of joy streaming down his face. Oh what a beautiful sight that would be.
The night before, as it was apparent that his time would be soon, we took shifts to be in the room with him through the night. And now, this next night, we had all mostly been in the room together through the evening, but as it was getting later, we were getting ready to figure out our shifts so that the others could wind down.
Mom and Kacey took a little break from Dad’s bedside and laid on Mom’s bed, just next to Dad’s, and they were watching a song on YouTube that Mom’s brother, Bob, had sent them for some comfort. I had just asked my wife to go make me a drink with some caffeine in it so I could take the first night shift. She was only gone for about a minute, and while Mom and Kace were listening to the song and talking about the lyrics, as I sat next to Dad I noticed something different.
For the last few days, Dad’s breathing was pretty labored and congested, even gurgly. In his breathing, there would be some space between his breaths, but nothing too dramatic. Suddenly, however, his breathing became clear, soft, gentle, and quiet. I leaned in closer. The pauses in between breaths increased, and the breathing almost became a whisper.
I spoke up and interrupted Mom and Kace and said,
“hey…his breathing is getting really soft.”
Mom and Kace jumped up out of the bed, Mom rushed around to his bedside, and I asked Kace to call Katie, Dave and Donna, and the boys into the room. His breathing got softer, quieter, and more spaced out. We hung on every pause, wondering if it was the last, and then another would come.
We were talking to him, crying with him, telling him goodbye and that he didn’t have to hang on, that he could go be with Jesus. And like a car that had run out of gas in the middle of the desert, Dad coasted along with his soft breathing until his body finally came to rest.
By the time everyone scrambled into the room, only 30 seconds or so had gone by, and it seemed like Dad had already taken his last breath, but as we all sat around him together, about 10 seconds after the last person got into the room, he took one more deep breath, and then he was gone.
Dad left us so peacefully, He was surrounded by his family, something that I assured him would happen when he mentioned a couple weeks before that he was anxious to know "how" he will go. My reply was, "Dad, whether it's peaceful or not, we will be right here with you until the end." With calmness in his voice, he said, "okay, well that's what I need to hear." And it seemed as if he waited to take that last breath until everyone was in the room, because he wanted to go with his family by his side.
My Dad was an incredible artist, as everyone knows. And in true artist fashion, he was also never satisfied with his final work. Just a couple weeks before, he said he needed "just one more hour on a few pieces" in order to "really finish them." We all knew that just wasn't true, though. Dad would always come visit our house, see some of the paintings he did for us over the years, and would put his nose about an inch from it and say, "y'know, Jobe, I wish I would have made those blues a little deeper," or "you know I'd love to just splash a little more shadows on that tree," or "that really needs a fresh coat of varnish on it."
Dad could always find something that wasn't just right, and he was never truly "finished." And as much as Dad's artistry and creativity was the result of him being made in the image of God and being the reflection of God as a creator, it was this inability to be satisfied with his work that made Dad unlike God.
In my one-on-one conversation with Dad earlier that day (which was really only one-way as he was unresponsive by this time), I shared with Dad an incredible verse from Ephesians 2.10, which said that we, God's people, are
"God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
The word "workmanship," in Greek (which is what this part of the bible was originally written in) is the Greek word "poema," which you can see is where we get the word "poem." This verse tells us that we are God's "poem," His work of art, His workmanship, His masterpiece. And we were created by God as His poem so that we would walk in varying good works that He prepared for us ahead of time.
When God created my Dad, He began to write a poem. That poem had varying parts to it. It was filled with drama, quick witted comedy, and twists and turns, but over the last 6 weeks, God was finishing up the final stanzas: the climax of this poem. In Philippians 1.3 the bible says that God, "who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." This means that what God starts, He finishes, and He finishes it to its completion.
And it was this night at 10:14pm that God finished the good work that He had started in my Dad. God finished His masterpiece, His workmanship, His work of art. God put the final period on the last sentence of the poem titled, "Mick McGinty," and it is good. It is complete. And as Jesus said on the cross, "it is finished."
God looked upon the good works that He had given to Dad to walk in, and God was satisfied with the final result. There will be no touch ups, and no changes needed, because God has finished the work to perfect completion, and God Himself, the Artist and Creator, is satisfied with His masterpiece.
That night, my Dad got what he has been dreaming of for the last 6 weeks. He would tell us over and over again, "I just can't wait to be in the arms of Jesus." And tonight he is, and I just can't imagine what he is feeling right now.
My Dad joked a few weeks before this, saying, "y'know, Jobe...I'm a little late to all this and don't really know what the bible says about heaven like you guys do. And in a way I kinda like that because it'll be like a good movie with a great ending, and you don't want the ending to be spoiled." That's a pretty positive take on it, but even the very next day, after having a rough night, he said, "but you know...I'm sure if you gave me at least some previews I will still be pretty amazed." And so I did. I told him some of the things that the bible gives us a picture of concerning heaven, but I know that even that will just be blown out of the water by what he really got to see for the very first time today.
Dad entered into heaven that night, and not only did he see Jesus face to face, as well as be held by Him as he has longed for, but he also got to hear His voice. And that night, He heard the words of his Savior say to him, "well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master. You are My son, in whom I am well pleased."
Dad got to hear the pleasure of the Lord. God's own pleasure towards Dad. That was something that evaded my Dad his whole life until August 8th. He never believed that he could have the love of God. And in this moment he had stepped into the fullness of that love.
We had been crying all evening, but we were so thankful that those tears will always be mingled with such joy and celebration and gratitude. Dad never once complained to Mom, to us, to a doctor, a nurse, or anyone else, because he was so thankful for what this cancer brought about in his life. Every day he told Mom, "I'm embracing my suffering" or "I am thankful for my suffering," because it brought him closer to really knowing Jesus and helped Dad to know more personally the suffering that Jesus endured for Dad on the cross.
He took his suffering and hardship like a man who truly knew that whatever may come to pass in his life, he was always getting "better than I deserve."
About an hour after Dad had passed away, Kacey had opened up her bible app, and she excitedly let us know that the verse of the day for that day happened to be John 15.4, 5, where Jesus says,
"Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from Me you can do nothing."
This was the verse that hit my Dad so hard and was pivotal in Dad recognizing that his whole life, he was always the main vine, rather than God. It was this verse that caused Dad to see clearly his need to have Christ be his true vine. And, here, on this day, it just so happens to be the "random" verse of the day. God has a great way about Himself in bringing us great comfort.
NEXT: Memorial and Testimony