Choosing, Seeking & Finding

Give Me Jesus

This blog post was written by my sister, Kara Holmes. It describes perfectly the reason why this journal is called the Give Me Jesus Journal!

In the morning when I rise,

In the morning when I rise,

In the morning when I rise,

Give me Jesus,

I stirred. The dim lights of the hospice room greeted me as I came out of my restless sleep, and I pulled my phone out to check the time. 3:30am. The window seat/bed bore the evidence of the uncomfortable night I’d already had. Weary in spirit, I looked at Papaw.

It’s hard to describe the feeling that pressed upon me as I awakened that early morning. It was one of urgency, of knowing. A gentle whisper was quietly nudging my heart to wake up, to sound the call. Papaw’s breathing was labored, his skin pale. I watched his chest rise, fall. Then I waited. Something felt different in my spirit.

I woke my sister, who had joined with me in the duty of staying with our grandfather through the night so that our family could rest. We had taken turns, and it was our night. We called the hospice nurse and waited, quietly asking each other the same questions: Is it time? Should we wake our family and have them come? Does he look different to you?

The nurse came in and did the usual checks on Papaw’s vitals. Pulse/ox levels, blood pressure, etc. “Things have changed, yes, but there is no reason to think the time has come,” he said. “It still could be hours, days even.” His eyes spoke kindness to us, patience as this was not a familiar day for us.

“Should we call our family?” we asked.

“That’s up to you, really. Like I said, I don’t think the time has come just yet.”

When I am alone,

When I am alone,

When I am alone,

Give me Jesus.

As we sat there alone in the room, we went over our options. It was incredibly early. Should we really wake everyone up, especially with the hospice nurse’s opinion that the time wasn’t here? No one wants to be “the boy who cried wolf,” especially when it comes to death and dying.

But still, in my spirit I knew. There was no ignoring the urgency in my heart that had woken me up just minutes earlier.

“Hello?” Mom answered sadly. She knew even as she answered the phone.

“Mom, it’s time. Hurry,” I whispered.

We said our goodbyes, and I called my Aunt Jenny. We had the same conversation, the same grief filling our voices.

Phone calls made, Gretchen and I sat at Papaw’s bedside, waiting on our family. We wept, we talked, we prayed. We told Papaw of our love for him; we asked him to please tell Mamaw we miss her. We held his aged hands, stroking his weathered skin. We cherished these moments.

Our family arrived quickly. We all hugged, and we all gathered around Papaw’s bedside. We watched his slow breathing, counting the seconds between breaths. Gretchen and I updated everyone on what the nurse had said earlier.

When I come to die,

When I come to die,

When I come to die,

Give me Jesus.

It didn’t take long. Five years earlier, we remembered gathering around my grandmother’s hospital bed, going through the same motions and feelings we were now. And as has been true of our family throughout my life, we did what we always do together, in happy times and in sad times. We sang.

We started with the first verse. “In the morning, when I rise…” We came to the chorus and sang with strength, with hope. “Give me Jesus! Give me Jesus!” The words were comfort and strength to us. We sang the second verse. “When I am alone…” Papaw’s breathing seemed slower, less deep. “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus!”

We came to the third and final verse. “When I come to die…” And it happened. In all the supernatural glory of that moment when one soul steps from this life into eternity with our Lord, we watched Papaw take his final breath.

Give me Jesus,

Give me Jesus,

You can have all this world,

But give me Jesus!

Papaw passed away on Sunday morning, August 2, 2009 at 5am. He had spent his lifetime rising early, at this exact time, to worship his Lord and to study Scripture. Every Sunday, as a matter of fact, he would rise at this time to prepare himself for a day of preaching and ministering to his congregation. How fitting, then, that in keeping with his usual habits in this world, he would not awaken on earth for the last time, but in Heaven for all time.

Oh, to leave a legacy like his! To be honored by God with such a beautiful death, one in which the natural and the supernatural touch in a way that leaves everyone breathless and with only one phrase ringing in their hearts: give me Jesus.

The choice is ours. My grandparents made theirs long ago, and both left legacies of faith and trust in our Savior. They weren’t super humans, and they weren’t more special than the rest of us. Instead, their lives were characterized by the discipline, integrity, and faithfulness that mark those who choose to follow Christ with everything they are.

“Give me Jesus” is not only a battle cry to utter in moments of great need or desperation. It is not just a beautiful phrase to be sung or simply a mantra to speak with excitement.

It is, instead, a mindset that should invade every aspect of our beings. It is a daily discipline, a rising in the morning and a lying down at night with thoughts of praise, surrender, faithfulness. It is a moment by moment choice, even in the good and bountiful days. It is a choosing, a seeking, a finding.

Because even if you have all this world, you come up short. Nothing this world has to offer will ever be enough.

Give me Jesus.

Kara Holmes (sister to Gretchen)