A faint knock at the door awakened the old man.
"Yes, come on in, son," the old man said from his hospital bed.
"Where are Mom and the people from church?" asked the young man.
"I asked them to take your mother out to eat. She needs a break, and I wanted to talk with you alone."
A little nervous, the young man asked, "Is everything all right, Dad?"
"Well, you know what the doctor has said. I'm not going to be around much longer." The old man coughed. "But I wanted to give you a gift before the end comes."
"A gift?" the son said with curiosity.
"Yes. You see, son, I've been thinking about the day your grandfather died. I would have wanted him to tell me something like I'm going to tell you tonight." The old man paused and wiped away a tear before continuing. "I remember as a boy when my dad walked down a church aisle to give his life to Christ. I even remember his baptism--that sort of thing makes a huge impression on a young boy. I remember how he led prayer around the dinner table as I was growing up, and I even remember how he led prayers in church every once in a while. But long before you were born, something changed in Grandpa's life. He stopped praying, or going to church, or expressing any interest in Jesus-- as far as I could see. I could not tell whether he really believed in Jesus Christ or not. I never knew whether he was ready to meet God when he died."
The young man did not know how to respond.
The father continued, "I would have loved for him to have given me the gift of assurance that he truly trusted in Christ and expected to be with God forever."
The older man looked at the muted TV before going on. "I just wanted to let you know that you don't need to worry about me. I really do believe in Jesus Christ. I really am committed to him. And I really do expect to be in heaven in a short time from now."
"Dad, you did not have to tell me," the young man answered. "I have seen your faith in the way you live. When I was growing up, I never told you, but I often found you in the early mornings reading your Bible and praying while you thought you were alone. I heard your prayers, when you thought no one but God was listening. I saw how you treated Mom. I know how you treated me. I saw how you would help friends, strangers, and even people who did not like you much. I saw God's Spirit in you. So you didn't really need to give me the gift of letting me know that you were right with God. I knew it, but I'm glad you told me anyway."
Choking up a little, the father hugged his son and said, "Thank you for that gift. Now I have only one more thing to ask from you: Meet me in heaven some day, son."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world, Dad."
"But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).