John Oliver Parkes: May 3, 1927 – September 21, 2000

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me.” — John Parkes, circa July 2000

When a person is about to die, and depending on who that person is, I think it can become quite uncomfortable for that person. In my father’s case, I think that this was indeed the case. I think my dad was uncomfortable with the thought of dying. He expressed this thought to me on the phone one day, I suppose it was about three months ago, when he said, something like, “I’ll be lucky to even be alive a year from now.”

In the end, my dad was struggling for his very life! While I don’t think he had really thought too much about the end of his life for most of his life, I think now he was really starting to think a lot about it.

One day, several years ago, a good friend of my dad’s, by the name of Alan Fleming, died. Now Mr. Fleming lived in Ottawa, where my wife and I also live, and so my dad came to stay at our place at that time. As I was away on a business trip, my dad had some time to talk with my wife, Mary. He asked her this question:

“What do you think of the soul in a human being? I’ve been thinking about this since the death of my friend.”

So my dad was searching, even back then. But it was not always easy for him to express this thought in an open way. I think that is the way it is, sometimes, again, depending on who you are, and what your circumstances in life are.

My wife and my dad talked about how easy it is for a person to die — how one day a person can be there and the next day he or she can be gone. It can all happen so very fast!

I think, if I was to be honest about it, and dig back a little deeper, it would be right to say that my dad was searching for the answer to life as far back as at least 1985, when I had the following experience with my dad.

He was actually driving me to a church service that I was about to attend, and I was sitting beside him in the car on the passenger side, and I noticed that he had a Bible in the car which was opened up to a certain page, and face down on the seat. Now my dad was never open about things like this, and it was very uncomfortable for him to talk about the Bible, or for him to even mention that he was interested in the Bible. I remember that we had quite a few arguments about Bible related matters, in which he tried to forcefully argue against certain things in the Bible. But still, I have to come the conclusion that he was searching, and had never given up believing that the Bible could, in fact, contain the answers that he was looking for. In fact, I think in the end, my dad did come to the conclusion that the Bible was the right way to go, and that the Lord Jesus Christ was the person who could help him with his struggle and his search in life, because I found this note several months ago, while visiting my father back in July of this year (2000), in which he had written the following words:

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me.”

Whatever my dad’s thoughts were on the Bible, this one thing was sure: When the going got rough, and he suspected that he was going to need an outside source of help, he had but one place to turn; in his own words, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God.”

The Bible says in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. Again, in Hebrews 1:3, it says that Jesus Christ is the “brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of his person.” Again in John 1:1, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus Christ is God himself. So if my dad was reading his Bible like I suspect he was, then his appeal was to God himself. And I think this is borne out by the fact that my dad actually referred to Jesus Christ as being the “son of the living God”.

A little bit of digging into Scripture will bring this fact out quite clearly, in passages such as John 10:33, in which the Jews who are attempting to stone Jesus give their own interpretation of what they themselves believed Jesus meant when he referred to himself as the son of God. In that passage, we read: “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

Concerning the expression, “son of the living God,” which my dad used, I checked the Bible and found that this exact expression is used in two passages of Scripture. The first is found in Matthew 16, verses 13 to 17, and the second is found in John 6:67-69. In fact, it was Simon Peter who used this expression on both of these occasions, and I think that the intent behind his usage of this expression was to say that not only was Jesus the son of God, but he was the son of the living God — in other words, not the God who once was, and who is “out there” somewhere, and who is not reachable, or available, but the God who is “right here with us”, and to whom we can come to and put our faith in during our time of need — that is, we can do that right now, each and every one of us.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17)

“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:67-69)

My dad’s appeal to God was very simple, but I think very sufficient. God is not a complicated God, and doesn’t demand any ritual from us. Those things are dead and lifeless. My dad was not a dead or lifeless person. Anyone who ever knew my father knew that full well. He always loved to go for walks, and go cross-country skiing, and plant flowers and vegetables, and build, and paint, and do things that are very representative of a person who is full of life. Hey! That is a great thing. Similarly, when it came to religion, my dad was not a “phoney-baloney”. He did not like hypocrisy, but if he did something, he wanted it to be genuine.

The Bible says in Acts 2:21 “that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Clearly, after 73 years of living, my dad decided to do that very thing! He called on the name of the Lord, who was able to save him and keep him for all eternity. Because of this promise in Scripture, “that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” I am confident today that my father’s soul — which he asked my wife about those few years ago when he was down attending his own friend’s funeral — is now safely in heaven with the Lord, who shall one day, as the Scriptures declare in John 6:40, provide him with a brand new body.

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

In his dying moments, my dad called out to the son of the living God for help. I am proud of my father for this very reason, and look forward to seeing him in heaven when I die. Thank you, dad, for making a wise decision. You have all eternity ahead of you, and we shall see you sometime in the future. Praise God!