Published May 30, 2017

Paul's Epistle
"Be Strong"

My writing here a few weeks ago about "last words" prompted John McCall, tenor singer with Steve Hess & Southern Salvation, to think about both of those questions. His mother passed on to Glory in February. Recently he sent me the following story (somewhat edited) which, for him at least, answered both of those questions.

"Sure, [losing my mother] makes me sad, and thinking about her is non-stop sometimes. Every time I sing ‘It Is Well' I just want to stop and cry. That was her favorite song ever. I remember the last words that she could speak to me before she had fifteen strokes in just days. ‘John, I love strong.'  Having no clue what was about to happen, two weeks later she was healed from her body, and is now with our Lord Jesus in heaven. Oh, to be with our Lord Jesus...

"Those were her famous last words to me, and I will never forget them — ever. She was a Godly woman with more faith in Jesus than I have ever seen in my life. She really loved Christ Jesus!

"During those two weeks, and before our newest project, "God Still Delivers," was released, I got an unmastered copy of all the songs so I could play them for her as she lay there in the hospital. The doctors said she was brain dead and could not respond to anything. No movements, no functions — nothing.

"But, every time I played that anointed music, she would tap her foot and squeeze my hand with the grip of a silver-back gorilla. She would try and open her eyes and even smile, when she could find that strength.

"There is a verse in a feature song of mine called "Praise My Way Out" that says this:

    ‘You know you can testify, I know I've had my days;
     When the enemy of life wants to silence all my praise.
     But I will not surrender, the Lord will turn the tide;
     When my heart is full of worship, and God is at my side!'

"Little did I know that when my medically ‘brain dead' mother, lying in a hospital, lifted her arm and pointed her finger towards Heaven, this verse would really witness to me personally. In essence it says, ‘John, I love strong!'  Except now those famous last words of a God-fearing, God-loving, Christian woman echo to me in a voice from God.

"God knows how much I loved my mother. I was her caregiver the last fifteen years of her life. Instead of letting the enemy rip my soul apart and cause me grief, I fought through this trial strongly, praising my way out through it all. I did not miss a beat. And even though I was offered to take time off from the road, I kept going. My mom would have been giving me one of those Pentecostal eyeball stares, that takes no words to understand what she was saying. Usually, sounding something like this: ‘John, don't make me come unglued! Now you get out there and bless those hurting people. God's got this, and you have a job to do — now go do it and Praise His Mighty Name!' LOL...

"We serve an awesome God, and no matter what we are going through, big or little things, in faith we have to trust Christ Jesus with everything in us and give Him thanks. The enemy has already lost the battle — and he is mad. Don't let those negative thoughts control or run [or ruin] our lives. As Christians we need to be the example of love, compassion, mercy, grace, strength, and faith... It is finished!"

If you are going through similar experiences with a loved one whose health is failing, or if you have recently lost a loved one, take comfort in John's experiences — and his sage advice.

- Paul

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