I Love You, Daddy

By Keith Miller | December 2, 2011

This post is really different for me to write.  It is about the process of making the transition from a life of faith in the God Jesus called, “Father,” to the end of that life in the process we call “dying”.

As I am writing this draft, Andrea and I are now in the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and have received the news that the cancer is in so many crucial areas of my body (liver, pancreas, lymph nodes) that finding a “cure” is not one of my options. 

For almost ten days I couldn’t eat or drink anything without gagging and throwing up.  Not only that, some bile came up into my throat due to a blockage in my upper intestine so everything I tried to swallow tasted like feces. I Finally contacted my doctor about my concern and was immediately sent to ER, put on a stomach pump to relieve the pressure from trapped fluids in my stomach, IV’s for hydration, and put on the schedule for an endoscopy to try to correct the problem. 

In the meantime my three daughters arrived and along with my wife, Andrea, we had a “love-in.”

During all this time I have continued my practice of walking through my days and nights thanking God for all the advantages and blessings that have given me the freedom to love people and help them become what God created them (particularly) to be, and to spend time writing and playing with Andrea, and other members of what has become our new “extended family.” and others on our ‘team.’

One of the main blessings on my continual gratitude list had been my health.  So when that was failing, I became grateful for the clinic I was able to get to, and for my friends who began to step up and help us get in to see these remarkable medical specialists.

But all this unexpected serious information and experience began to depress me and affect my positive attitude and practices.  When I got to my lowest point, a visiting friend took me to a meeting in the hospital area.  Simply being honest and sharing my fear and my experience, strength and hope got me through a very difficult time, and prompted me to write the e-mail getting honest with my physicians about my inability to eat or drink.

All this, and my family’s arrival, interrupted my description of the inner process of dying.  With the family and a few friends here filling my life with love, my faith was concrete, my loving listening and gratitude were intact, and my awareness of God’s healing presence intact somehow.

The night before the family was to leave I began to pray alone in the dark hospital room.  I asked myself what I believe about a “life after this one.”  I realized with a shock that I really hadn’t spent a lot of time learning about “heaven.”  Fear suddenly gripped me.  I calmed myself by surrendering my entire life, death, and future to God.   And then I became aware of what I have come to believe happens when some believers die.

My conscious focus during the past few years had been on learning to live and share the self-limiting love I have experienced from God in the present “Reign of God” that Jesus announced, described and inaugurated throughout his entire life and work.  I’ve done this because it is what I saw Jesus doing. 

When he did speak to his disciples about how they and their lives would be evaluated in the last analysis, he referred mostly to how well they had replicated the LIFE of self-limiting love he had given them.  And for me that included the way Jesus had referred and deferred to his loving Father as “Daddy” in a continuous dialogue.

But then, in that dark night alone, I suddenly thought, “What’s going to happen to me and my relationship to God that has come to fill and inform my entire life?”  And I almost panicked.  Compared to what I had already received and experienced in this life with the Father as Daddy, the pictures Christians had developed about Heaven seemed pale and insignificant.  I had moments of thinking maybe I should stop and do a crash course on “Heaven” with someone I knew.  And finally, I once again surrendered my life and my entire future to God and went to sleep.

The next morning I just happened to talk to a Christian who’s spent a lot of time studying about Heaven.  I suddenly remembered Jesus and what he did in his own life as it was drawing to an end.  He simply trusted his Heavenly Daddy, did and said what he could determine was what God wanted Him, Jesus, to say and do.  And at the last of his life, in the Garden of Gethsemane, with nothing in hand to assure him in advance that what he had to do would turn out for him personally as he hoped things would, Jesus decided to take the first steps alone—even if all his own followers deserted him.

I saw that for me—if I am really to follow Jesus, I am going to have to step up to the doorway of death that I am facing right now—the end of all I know of life and human experience.  I must stand before that doorway with the same faith of a small child as Jesus did, doing what he thought his daddy was asking him to do–regardless of whether his own followers (and in my case what other Christians) may think.  Although I am in the midst of my family and those of you who are a part of life’s family too, I am all alone. 

All I can think of to say as I approach that door is, “Daddy who is in Heaven, it’s me, John Keith.  All l I have to give you is the life of love that you have given me!  All the rest of the material possessions and public attention that came about as a result of the life I built for you as a Christian—all that has gone somehow.  All that is left is this little boy who loves you as his Daddy.  And I’m knocking, wanting to come in and let you continue—in whatever way—to teach me about how you made us to be when you created us way back in the beginning in the garden.  But if this is not your plan, or whatever you have for me (or don’t have), whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) I’m knocking on this huge Dark Door of Death, wanting to come in and say ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I love you, Daddy.’*

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  John 14:1-3

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:10-12

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 7:20-22

And prayers come with these words for all of you who have become so dear to me.

(Note: Since writing this post Keith has come back to Austin.  He will begin chemotherapy next week.  Your prayers are appreciated during this time and we are certainly grateful for the kind words and prayers you have offered thus far.  Thank you.)

 


* This account is not “the way” any Christian (or others) “should” think about approaching God at the time of his or her own death.  But this was my honest experience the other night as I was realizing that my own life—as I have lived it—is coming to an end.  Not being an expert of any kind, this is just part of my own “experience, strength and hope.”  I miss you all and love you very much!   –John Keith

65 comments | Add One

  1. k.ganeshwaran - 12/4/2011 at 10:53 pm

    dear keith the words y penned are very
    beautiful & iknow it will be a strenth to
    thousands of people for years to come
    yes jesus was our elder brother & went
    all the way only by faith. his cry at the
    garden & the why at calvery portrays
    the drama clearly.it seems like he was
    little confused as to his calling & fearfull
    as to the outcome.but anyhow he obeyed & rose up victorisly & we know that in our hearts by the promise of the
    spirit he sent us.we go through all shorts of experiences in our christian life. at times the whole world seems so dark and we think there is no hope. in our despair we ask god why? when willthis all end.
    god at times dont answer . he is above these circumtances. he is doing a deep work so that we will
    rise up as winners. at that very important confused moment of our life he will show us the future path &
    revel the plan he has for us.
    icannot express by words the blessings i rcvd through y writings, you are a modern day apostle . your
    transperent & vanarable way of communication is like a mirror through which we can see our hearts.
    i belive your latter days are going to be glories than the former days and
    pray that the healing power of god will flow through you and the peace which surpasses all understanding
    will guard your heart.
    ganesh; SRI LANKA

  2. Michael Hinchliffe - 12/5/2011 at 8:44 am

    Dear Keith
    Heaps of blessings and peace on you and the family at this time Keith.
    Thank you so much for your support and wisdom through your writings, even at this time.
    Thank you also for your past emails and the few telephone conversations we had.
    We will meet one day…..
    Love in our Redeemer,
    Michael

  3. +Bp. Ted Daniels - 12/5/2011 at 10:22 am

    My brother Keith,
    You, Andrea and family continue in our prayers. You have been an inspiration and friend to so many of us. Be assured that God is on your side especially in those moments of your deepest fears. You can talk to God in the very frank, honest, sincere anf faithful way that has always been characteristic of your honesty with us. That is how God has allowed you to witness to us and to accompany us on our journey. Know this, again, and again: God in Christ will never abandon you. All He asks of you is to be your true self, the loving brother we have known and the one He knows even better. As always your Big Brother Jesus who we call Savior and Lord is constantly praying to Our Heavenly Father ( yes, your DADDY)for you. And so are we!

    May God continue to bless you as you witness to us with your characteristic honest, truth, love and faith.

    Peace and love to you my brother, your beloved wife Andrea and family.

  4. Harriet Heacock - 12/5/2011 at 3:12 pm

    Keith, your words and writings have been gifts to many, many people throughout the years. Now at the end of your life’s journey, you courageously continue to share so openly and honestly. Thank you!
    Lots of love to you and Andrea…you both continue to be in my prayers.

  5. Kim - 12/5/2011 at 8:10 pm

    They say you never know when you touch someone’s life. I want you to know I am amoung those whose life has been changed by knowing you, seeing your example, sharing this path with you. I will always be grateful to you for the things you have taught me simply by living your life as you have.Thank you.

  6. Jim - 12/6/2011 at 3:06 pm

    While listening to a 35 year old cassette tape of a talk you gave (i don’t even remember where), I thought I would catch up with you. I am so sorry, but also so grateful for your witness, and so encouraged by what you wrote. I pray for strength and courage and wisdom and peace for you and your family. Peace.

  7. Woody and Lucy Adams - 12/9/2011 at 9:09 am

    Our dear friend Keith….we are Lake Junaluska friends. You so loved Lucy’s mother, Mrs. Neeley, and she loved you. I recall a funny even when you were speaking in the old boathouse. As you were making a great point and asked for a response….2 ducks below on the water quacked loudly. Brought the house down. We love you…we just thank God for Keith Miller in our lives. God is good….a wonderful Daddy.

    WOODY

  8. Jim Fugate - 12/10/2011 at 3:42 am

    Keith: Your writings have been a blessing in my life. The ways you have instructed Christians to adjust their lives are a legacy many will continue to draw from long after you are gone.

    Death is such a mystery and all of wonder if we’ve accomplished all for the Lord that we wanted. Be assured that that as you pass from death in this life to LIfe with the Lord that He will say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    May you have that confidence!

    Jim Fugate, West Virginia

  9. Roy Poston - 12/10/2011 at 5:14 pm

    A friend recommended your book, “A Hunger For Healing”. I believe it as divinely inspired as the Big Book and written by a man on par with Bill W. May God bless and comfort you and your family.

  10. Tammy - 12/11/2011 at 10:49 pm

    Dear Keith I am sorry I have not contacted you. We spent such a short time together at the hospital, but I think of you daily and the talks we had. I am sitting in Corpus Christi with my mother in critical condition praying talking to the father and to my other father who has already been recieved by christ a few months back I do beilieve soon his wife will join him and I to will be back in Austin. God Bless You as WE live to die.

  11. Martin, Sweden - 12/13/2011 at 2:24 pm

    Dear mr Miller,

    your books have changed my life to the better. I am forever grateful. God bless you.

  12. Steve Knox - 12/21/2011 at 11:41 am

    Keith, you have touched my life, and the lives of other people precious to me, and for that I will always be grateful to you and God. Thanks for keeping it real.

  13. Renee Barnett - 12/22/2011 at 7:31 am

    My prayers are with you both daily! I am thinking of you both often with great love. God Bless you now and always, Love, Renee

  14. Sandy Miller - 12/26/2011 at 11:13 am

    Keith,
    Your gracious goodness and care for us as you share the intimacy of facing death is another lesson in life you are teaching us.
    Through my small group study with Elliot and our gang, of your book “Edge of Adventure” I believe I caught a glimpse of how to grow my heart to become more like Jesus because of your writing and your teaching.
    I continue to be humbled by your life and now your end of life experience.

    I pray for your peace and comfort. I pray that your blessed soul will be received (at God’s timing) into the kingdom of heaven with celebration. I know you will hear Jesus say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
    Thank you for your service to us.
    Love and prayers to you both.
    Sandy Miller

  15. Debra Evans - 12/30/2011 at 2:34 pm

    David and I look forward to loving you and Andrea even more (and way better) in heaven, Keith. In the meantime, we thank God for you both as we remember you with many prayers and much affection.

    Debra

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