When I left, I didn't know I'd never see him alive again.
But it was so.
Soon after, I found a feather laying at the doorstep of my office building as if it was placed there just for me. Right or wrong, I had prayed for a sign. I had read about a woman who continually found feathers in unusual places after praying for a sign that her loved one had gone on to live in the arms of angels. I prayed the same prayer and there was that feather. It was one of the largest feathers I'd ever seen and it was laying on the threshold of the building where I was to be the only one entering that day. I clutched onto it and claimed that as my sign that my dad was with God. On particularly dark days, I would continue to find them, on Dad's birthday, on days that I was really heavy hearted, on days that I desperately needed to believe he was ok. I wasn't placing my faith in that feather instead of God, but I had seen it as a message from Him to me that Dad was okay.
Months later, someone was giving a testimony of her faith in our small town. She too, had a very similar story. Her feathers she had found, her loved one that has passed away, her sign from God that all was well.
All the same.
It was then I thought, this is silly....what am I doing putting all this meaning into an everyday object that anyone could find if they looked hard enough. Surely we couldn't all have the same story. My faith in God never wavered, but the belief in the feather and what it represented was gone. Into the garbage can it went, that large feather I'd held onto for so long and with it the peace that my father was definitely in Heaven.
It wasn't that he wasn't a good man. My dad was a great man, a gentle man, and he did many things for many people. Sure, he'd had his faults like any other person, but if anyone went to heaven by good deeds alone, he would be there. He literally wouldn't kill a fly. If there was a mouse in our house, he'd gently trap it and release it outside. He took in stray animals, helped people with their careers, coached little league ball teams, mentored young teens and did many wonderful things for our community. During his career as a judge he was kind and compassionate.
The kind of dad who made you feel like no one in this world was as important as you.
At the end of his life he told my husband that he knew he was ok, that he was going to Heaven and not to worry.
However, at the end of the day, I believe accepting Christ as your Savior is your assurance to Heaven, not simply being a good person. He had never discussed this with me, so I didn't know what he meant by 'he was ok'. He never told me what I needed to know.
He had been raised in church and he said all was well, but he hadn't attended church in years and had never spoken to me about his relationship with God, ever. I never saw him read the Bible or mention anything scriptural. During my lifetime, despite being a good moral person, there was no evidence of his relationship with Christ.
He said all was well, though I couldn't help but feel unsettled.
This uncertainty instilled in me that I want no one to have to search for evidence of my Christianity after my death. My children will miss me when I'm gone but they will have peace. They hear me talk about God and my relationship with Him, see me attend church, read the Bible. I want to continue to live my life so that my children won't need to pray for that feather. I want so much evidence that Christ is my Savior that there is no room for any doubt.
No further sign needed.
I've already told my kids the one thing they need to know.
A few days after tossing the feather, I was pretty down and out. I had so wished that the feather had really been for me. I got ready for work and walked to my car. I unlocked the door, got in and started the engine. I sat there for a minute trying to compose myself enough to drive the car. The doors were shut and the windows were up. As I reached for the gearshift, I looked down.
In my lap lay a single feather.
Psalms 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
And I believe this one was truly mine.