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  • Susan Eaton

What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

It’s been almost fifteen years since my father died—May 6, 2003. And it was fifteen years ago this month that my heavenly father broke in to some of my worst pain and fear in order to teach me and comfort me in a manner I was not expecting.

My father had stage 4 colon cancer and it was becoming clear that things were not going in a good direction for him. But each morning, as I would spend time in the silence with God, I would pray for my father. I would think of my dad and I would ask God to be with him.

One morning as I was doing this, I sensed God asking me,

“What do you want me to do for you?”

I don’t know how to explain this except to say that it was unmistakably him. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it was a question coming to me that was not of my own creation. I just knew it was him.

I answered, “You know. Just be with dad.”

Again the question came, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“You know. Just be with dad. Help him. Be with him.”

Each time I would answer with my detached answer of “You know. Just be with him,” the question would come.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

I don’t remember how many times this happened, but it became clear that God was definitely going to be more persistent than I could withstand. But I didn’t want to go there with him. I didn’t want to think that hard about what I really wanted. I didn’t want to because it just hurt too bad. If I said what I wanted, I had to enter into the reality that something I did not want—my father dying—was going to happen and was going to happen soon.

Also, I couldn’t tell God what I really wanted because I knew the answer. I understood that death is a reality that will come to everyone. I also understood that it was a reality coming for my father, and coming soon. I knew that was going to happen. So why even ask for something different when my heart would just break when it didn’t come to pass?

But there I was, sitting in the silence, clearly in the presence of God, with him asking me the same question over and over and over again.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Finally he “wore me down” and I gave him my answer.

“Fine! What do I want you to do? I want you to heal my father! I want you to rip the cancer out of his body and heal him! I want him to be healthy! I want him to stay here! I want him to actually be old like his father was at 89 before he dies, not 62! That’s what I want!”

I didn’t say it nicely. I didn’t say it quietly. I just yelled it at him. After all, he pulled it out of me, so he was going to get it.

I burst into tears.

I cried and cried—a cleansing, snot-faced cry. You know—the ugly cry—but cleansing none-the-less.

Then silence.

No response.

I just sat there, crying with my eyes closed, waiting. I thought, “Is that it? Are we done?” Again, unmistakable God answered.


I knew I was just to sit in the silence. So I sat. And I waited. I opened one eye, “Am I supposed to…?”

“Shhhh…” came the reply.

So I sat. And then I relaxed a little. He was definitely there. I knew that. It took my brain a little bit to finally turn all my questions off and be silent—to just be in the silence with God—without being in control of the silence.

As I sat there, I noticed something begin to happen. My body began to feel light… almost like it wasn’t there. There was no weight on me at all. No sense of anything pressing on me or weighing me down. My brain started working hard on this. So I asked, “What is this?”


So I just let it be… let it happen. But then, something changed. That weightless feeling left and I was very aware of my body again — how heavy and cumbersome it felt. “Whoa.”

Then a phrase entered my mind that, again, was not of my own creation. I knew it was God speaking to me.

“The body is heavy.”

And in that moment I understood. And, again, I don’t know how to explain this except to say that I just understood. I understood that if my very healthy 30-year old body was that heavy, my dad’s very sick body must feel terribly heavy. I understood that, yes, my father was going to die, but God was going to relieve him of the heaviness. Free him. Restore him. Make him the most alive he’d ever been.

But there was more. One more thing God needed to address with me. One more thing that got to the heart of the matter. And so he spoke.

“You will be okay.”

Yeah, that was it.

As sad as I was for my dad. As hard as it was to see him sick. As sad as I was that he wouldn't see my son grow up, none of that was my greatest fear.

“How will I live without a daddy?”

That was my biggest fear. I’d never done it before, and I didn’t know how I would be able to. I didn’t even have the strength or the courage to voice that to God. But he knew. And he just spoke right into it—right into the place of my deepest fear and cause of my grief. Not because I asked him to. Not because I deserved it. But just because he loves me and cares so much about me.

And I believed him.

God would take care of me.

And I would be okay.

Here is my encouragement for you today: The most important thing in our relationship with God is honesty and authenticity before him. We can’t receive what we truly need from him if we hold back or lie to him. We must be honest. So let him have it all. Tell him how it is with you. Tell him honestly what you want him to do for you. And then let him answer in the way he knows best. Even if you don’t get what you want, you will be okay.

Let me say that again.

You will be okay.

May the God of all comfort—the God of all peace—the God who bears our burdens and lifts our heaviness—be with you today. And may you be with him. Not in control—just with him. May you be honest and authentic. And may you be strengthened today in his presence and through the word he will speak to you.

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