The Impressionist Part 10

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"Christina because of your steadfast trust in our G.o.d, angels are bending low with furrowed brows. They're curious about you. And when they see your declaration of G.o.d's truth and faithfulness, they gaze in wonder and awe. All of G.o.d's enemies are watching us and gritting their teeth in frustration that they're not able to get us to doubt our G.o.d. They're looking in awe at you, Christina, and saying, 'Oh, what a great G.o.d she must serve if He was able to subdue her with the force of His love. What a wonder He must be.'"

In the hospital, during her worst stages-the urgency, the weariness, and the sheer awfulness of her lying there drove Jim Ed to a place of desperation he had never been to before. He made regular visits down to the hospital chapel to pour himself out privately to G.o.d.

"G.o.d, I feel so helpless!" he often cried. "Please, not Christina, G.o.d. Why her and not me? She's been so faithful to you! She loves you more than anyone I know!"

One night, disappointed and horror-struck, right there in that chapel, Jim Ed fell prostrate on the floor and wept until he had nothing left inside him but dry heaves and hoa.r.s.eness. He didn't understand why G.o.d allowed Christina to suffer; and just when he felt he couldn't go on, G.o.d came down and met him there. He made a choice to stand by faith despite what the circ.u.mstances were screaming. He knew G.o.d was alive and he would trust Him. He would fight the good fight of faith.

Jim Ed didn't want to just grit his teeth and endure till it was over, so he determined to gather up everything that was good in the middle of the pain. G.o.d was preparing both he and Christina for something great in eternity. Yes, he wanted his Christina healed and for the pain to stop, but he didn't want to miss the work G.o.d was doing in the situation by being bowled over with what he hated. Jim Ed knew that cancer was evil and G.o.d didn't cause that hideous sickness, yet he also knew that G.o.d was working in the midst of it, in spite of it.



Late one night, Christina was in dire pain and he didn't know if she was going to live or die. They' d had a steady stream of visitors, and now Will and his family were gone. Jim Ed was pacing around the room, crying to G.o.d, "Lord, I praise You! We praise You! Christina, G.o.d's good. He's giving us grace and strength. Our Lord is right here with us."

She' d nodded and whispered a moan of agreement.

Christina had been getting a special medication for her blood that helped ease her discomfort. Unfortunately, the negative side effect was loss of eyesight. When Christina sensed that time was short, she refused the medication so her eyesight could be restored before she pa.s.sed.

Day by day, hour by hour, Christina was weakening. The family knew the time was near. Her eyes were closed and Jim Ed, Will, and his family, and some close friends were gathered around her bed. Then, as if an angel cued them, they all began singing in unison. "Ama...zing grace how sweet the sound," their voices flowed out the hospital room and down through the hall, "that saved a wretch like meeeee. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I seeeee." When they finished the chorus, everyone in the room, even the RN and nurse's aid, had wetness in their eyes.

At the end of the song, Christina's eyes barely slipped open. She turned her head, and holding her son Will's hand, she said, "I see you, son. I see you."

One by one those in the room kissed her forehead and said their goodbyes. When they were finished, she slowly turned to Jim Ed and lifted a trembling hand to caress his hair. "I see you, my love," she said.

With tears streaming down his cheeks, Jim Ed gently kissed her cheek and whispered into her ear, "It's okay, just let go and fly sweetheart. Go on and see Jesus and your Mama and Papa and Tallah. They're waiting. I'll be following shortly. And what a time it will be when we're all together again."

Jim Ed had crawled into bed with her and pulled himself up next to her back, helping her to stay warm. While holding her in his arms, he could tell her breathing was getting shallower and shallower. They both knew in their spirits it was time.

"Jim Ed," Christina said, mustering all of her strength, her voice crackly and faint, "Turn me around so I can see your face, I want to look into your eyes one last time." Her husband of nearly sixty years ever so carefully positioned her body to where she was facing him. They lay there facing each other.

Christina reached up her quivering hand and ran her fingers across Jim Ed's face while looking directly into his eyes. "I'm so glad that truck hit you that day, you old fool," she said barely above a whisper. "You're a good man, Jim Ed, and you've been a good husband. Thank you for standing by my side and being strong through all the hard times. And we sure had some good times too. Didn't we?" She smiled softly even though she was in pain. "If I could do it all over, I' d spend my life with you again. I love you so much." She wiped the tears from his eyes and then closed hers.

"I love you too, Christina," Jim Ed whispered back, gently stroking her silver hair. "You were the best wife a man could ever ask for. You made me a better man and filled my life with joy and richness. Thanks for loving me too."

Christina closed her eyes and laid her head back on the pillow. For the next several hours Jim Ed continued to hold Christina's hand as her heartbeat weakened. Will had moved to the bedside while his wife was asleep in the chair. Around am, to their utter amazement, Christina's eyes popped wide open. She raised her head upright while gazing in wonder at something in the upper corner ceiling of the hospital room. A great smile filled her face. "It's time?" she asked. Then she closed her eyes, dropped her head back on the pillow, and breathed her last.

29.

"I know she saw an angel or Tallah or her papa," said Jim Ed. "There's no other explanation. No way a person could be in that room and not trust G.o.d. Christina eyes opened because something called her. She opened them and looked straight up. She didn't even notice us."

"Or Jesus," said Josh, wiping tears from his eyes with his s.h.i.+rt sleeve. "Maybe she saw Jesus?"

"Yes, maybe she saw Jesus," said Jim Ed. "I know one thing for sure. G.o.d is real, Josh. Never forget that. He can break your addiction and help you achieve your purpose in life. If you give your life to Him, it won't be easy, but He will do great and wonderful things through you. I promise. You have so many special gifts to be developed. Don't let the enemy destroy you. But it takes courage to stand up against all the lies and deception that your generation is throwing at you."

"Yes sir. Thank you," said Josh.

"Know this," Jim Ed said turning his attention toward me again. "There's nothing more difficult than reaching over to Christina's side of the bed and realizing that no one is there. It hurts. I'd give anything to hold her in my arms just one more time. Those who love much, grieve much. But it's worth it, Adam. It's worth the fight. Your family's worth the fight."

I smiled, reached over and squeezed his hand. "Thank you, Jim Ed," I said. "Your story has moved me in so many different ways. I know Jesus sent you to me today."

"It's in these tough situations that we are given a chance to believe G.o.d is who He says He is," continued Jim Ed, "not because we are experiencing everything we want, but because we have a hope and we choose to believe. G.o.d is making you into something, Adam, and it's never too late to finish strong in life. Even in your darkest moments, if Christ dwells in you, there'll be a song deep in your soul and a warrior's fight in your swagger."

"Like David?" I said.

"Just like David," he said. "Hey Josh, can you Google Psalm 144:1 and 9?"

"No problem," Josh said and his fingers began flying on his iPhone. "Got it!"

"Read it out loud please," asked Jim Ed.

"Here's verse 1. 'Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.'"

"You hear that? It's G.o.d who trains you for the fight. We're in a war, guys, and the enemy we're up against plays for keeps! Okay, now read verse 9."

"I will sing a new song to You, O G.o.d; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You!"

"Although David was a mighty warrior who slew giants and conquered kingdoms, he also had a song in his heart for G.o.d." Jim Ed leaned back and took a long sip of coffee. "Do you mind looking up one more, Josh? Then I'll stop preaching. Promise."

"Sure."

"Look up Psalm 55:4-7."

"My heart is severely pained within me," Josh began reading out loud, "and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander off, and remain in the wilderness.'"

"Wow, I can sure relate to that," said Adam. "Felt that exact way this morning on that park bench. I wanted to escape to a beach in the Caribbean or just go to sleep and never wake up." I glanced at Josh. "I didn't really want to go to sleep and not wake up, son, they were just thoughts. I would never act on them."

Josh rolled his eyes. "I can relate to that Scripture," he said. "Who can't? Didn't know that was even in the Bible."

"Yep. You just read it." Jim Ed's eyes narrowed, he leaned forward over the table. "One thing I appreciate about G.o.d's Word is the honesty," he said. "People wouldn't make that stuff up. David was a warrior and had a song in his heart, but he also knew what deep pain and disappointment felt like. He had a very real life. Just because we are Christ's doesn't mean things are always going to be easy. But we will have a.s.surance that in everything, good and bad, we can have a peace that pa.s.ses all understanding, even when people misunderstand us or choose not to forgive."

"You mean like Paige?"

"Possibly."

"You have to give everything to G.o.d, Adam. Give it your best fight, His best fight rather, and leave the results up to Him."

"It's a hard thing, Jim Ed, but I hear you," I said glancing at Josh. "I love your mom, son."

"I know, Dad. I know."

There was a calm quiet around the booth for some time as we sipped our coffee simultaneously while dealing with our own thoughts. Then Josh looked up at Jim Ed, maybe a little hesitant. "Do you think you could paint my portrait too?" he asked. "You know, maybe sometime? When you don't have anything to do?"

Jim Ed perked up. His familiar smile beamed across his face again. "Now that is one of the best ideas I've heard all day!" he said with a twinkle in his eye. "I would consider it a privilege if you allowed me the honor of painting your portrait Josh Camp." He tipped his Saints cap then turned his attention toward me, eyes inviting.

"You can drop by the house anytime you like, Jim Ed," I said finis.h.i.+ng off my cup of coffee. "And who knows...maybe sometime soon you could even paint a family portrait."

Acknowledgments:.

The team at Destiny Image and Joel Nori-it's been a joy to work with you in this journey, and I sincerely appreciate your vision for this story.

Curtis Wallace, attorney and friend-thank you for believing in this project from the beginning and for bringing us together with Destiny Image Publis.h.i.+ng.

Team Wildfire, Extraordinary Women, and AACC- your tireless and faithful service does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do for the cause of bringing healing and hope!

Julie, Megan & Ben, and Zach-you bring great joy to me as a husband and a father each day. I love my life with you!

Alanna Davis (Max's wife)-thank you for all your hard work on this book. Really, your name should be on the cover, too!.

About the Authors.

TIM CLINTON, Ed. D. (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American a.s.sociation of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling a.s.sociation in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor (LPC) and Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has auth.o.r.ed over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 33 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan (recently married to Ben Allison) and Zach.

MAX DAVIS holds degrees in Journalism and Biblical Studies. He's the author of over twenty books of both fiction and non-fiction. His books have been translated into several languages and have been featured on shows such as The 700 Club, The Today Show, and in USA Today. He and his wife Alanna live on thirty beautiful acres in Greenwell Springs, LA. To learn more visit www.MaxDavisBooks.com.

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The Impressionist Part 10

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