I keep thinking of his beautiful silver hair. Baby soft, pure silver strands. How many times did I hesitate to reach my hand forward and brush them from his face? How many times did I pause, wondering if a man of strength and heroic nature like my Dad, would be offended if I ran my fingers through his hair to comfort him? But each time I did, he never seemed to mind. He seemed glad for it. And once I touched his hair, I always hesitated to stop. Dad’s silver hair was beautiful. I often thought of it as his crown of honor on this earth and I hoped one day that all those genes in me that came from him would grant me hair just as silver as his.
Throughout the day I have tried to process his death.
It doesn’t seem real.
It doesn’t seem possible.
It doesn’t make sense.
It doesn’t seem fair.
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.
How many times have I thought, “This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.”?
Dad was healed of stage 4 colon cancer two and a half weeks ago. We saw the transformation right before our eyes. Dad’s tumors and cancer tissue died and came out of him. He felt better. He looked better. His appetite was better. He didn’t have any pain. He told us several times, “I know I am healed.” He had no doubt. We had no doubt. The work was done. Cancer was gone. All he needed to do was regain his strength. We were excited. We couldn’t wait for the things that would come. Dad’s testimony of healing was going to turn the world upside down. How many people had been diagnosed with cancer and left hopeless? How many people had been turned over to hospice and assigned a day to die? How many people had heard, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing left we can do.”
Dad heard those words not long ago, but Dad knew that hope was not gone.
On June 18th of this year, Mark talked to my Dad about the Lord, and Dad decided he was going to serve Him and live for Jesus. He didn’t understand everything. It was new territory for him. But he was hungry. We bought him a Bible with his name printed on it. He asked lots of questions. He listened to sermons. He liked us to pray with him so Mark and our friend, Jeff, called him often to do just that.
A little over a month later, an entourage of doctors entered his hospital room and informed him that he should go home and see the people he wanted to see and do the things he wanted to do. He took my hand and Mom’s hand and he said, “I want to make that trip. I want to go Texas. I’m living on borrowed time and this isn’t helping. I want to try something else.”
Right before Dad was diagnosed with cancer, our friend and Pastor, Jeff, prayed for my eye, which I had not been able to see out of for 3 years, and it was instantly healed. A week before that his 13-year-old son prayed for Mark, who had a short leg, and we watched Mark’s leg grow out right before our eyes. Since then, divine and miraculous healing had become an everyday reality in our lives. We lived it. We were surrounded in it. I hesitated over this trip though, because I worried that Dad may not realize that God can heal anywhere, anytime, through anyone that is saved and has faith. Still, Dad gripped my hand and said, “I want to do what I want to do. We’re in this together, right?” I gripped his hand back and said, “Absolutely Dad. If this is what you want to do, this is what we are going to do.”
We battled the doctors to get him out of the hospital and we loaded him in the car and we drove 24 hours straight. When we arrived at my house, Dad was weak and incoherent. He was hot with fever and we suspected he was septic but he was on our turf. Turf where the atmosphere of healing is alive and well and an everyday reality. He was in a home overflowing with faith, surrounded by friends that believe in divine healing just like we do. Jeff and Mark were waiting to help Dad in the house and as soon as they carried him in and got him in a bed they began praying. The changes were instant but we were without a doubt in a battle. We have seen countless instant healings over the last several months with short, simple faith-filled prayers. It has become our life. The Bible says, “These signs shall follow them that believe…” so we take it everywhere we go and we pray for people wherever we are, and we see them healed right in front of our eyes. We know beyond any shadow of doubt that it is always God’s will to heal, but in this instance, for some reason, the devil was hanging on for dear life.
For two weeks, Dad stayed in Zane’s little bedroom, and Jeff came over to pray with him every day. We battled it out in prayer. We saw small victories, but we were pushing for that big breakthrough. We stood our ground. We stood for the truth of divine healing. We stood on the promises of God’s Word. We stood in faith. On August 4th, the situation finally took it’s upward turn. Jeff commanded the cancer to die and take no more nutrients, and that evening, Dad began passing the tumors and the cancerous tissue. The next day we gathered in his room and had a bedside church service. I’ll never forget hearing my Dad’s voice, praising and thanking God, “Thank You, Jesus! Thank You Jesus!” Dad knew he was healed. He told us that he was certain of it. He told us of things God showed him and what he saw and there was no doubt about what God had done.
In the following days Dad started regaining his strength. He was looking better. Eating better. Getting around better. He hadn’t had any pain for weeks. He was working to get his strength built back up. He woke up one morning and decided it was time to head back to NY so the following day, that’s what they did. They got home, Dad continued to improve, and we rejoiced in every single victory and we looked eagerly ahead to his full recovery of strength and all the things that would transpire when Dad began to tell what God had done for him.
The future for Dad was thrilling. We were brimming with anticipation for what was about to unfold.
And then the call came.
Mark handed me the phone and told me who it was as he gave a quick run down of the missed calls on each of our phones and before the phone ever reached my ear my heart had sunk into my stomach.
This can’t be good…
Dad’s death this morning was a complete shock.
It was so incongruent with everything we saw and witnessed and what we knew God had done.
He was healed of stage 4 cancer and 19 days later died of a heart attack?
I will be the first one to tell you I don’t have all the answers, but I look at the situation and it’s clear to me that the devil was TERRIFIED of Dad. Dad had a testimony and he was going to tell it. As soon as he could get around, HE was going to pray for the sick and see them recover because HE knew that when Jesus lives inside of ANYONE, ANYONE can do that. This is what is so beautiful and marvelous about salvation. That when we make Christ our Lord and Savior, and we have purposed within ourselves to take Christ and His Gospel of healing and salvation and deliverance to the world, we become so treacherous and intimidating and dangerous to the devil. His demons tremble everywhere we go and it becomes his prime ambition to take us down so we don’t inflict anymore damage on his diabolical kingdom.
Dad was a force for the Kingdom of Heaven and I believe that is why the devil was so determined to sweep in and neutralize him.
But you know what? The devil messed up.
The devil tried to whisper in my ear throughout the day, “None of those things you anticipated will come to pass… That whole revival that you thought was about to break loose… that’s a dead dream. This whole battle… it was all in vain….”
If it is possible to stare the devil in the eye, I stared him in the eye today and I let him know, Dad’s battle was not in vain!
When we found out Dad had cancer 11 weeks ago, I was a completely different person. I was a different Christian. I was not a very strong one. I look back over the weeks and marvel at all the things that were slaughtered and defeated in my life as we rose up and fought for Dad.
I won victories over fear and inhibition. It was through his battle that I obtained the boldness to talk to and pray with strangers and to live out my faith in all it’s fullness. It was while Dad fought cancer that I unearthed the truth about the authority we have in Christ and I learned that I could take hold of it with confidence and without condemnation. It was through Dad’s battle with cancer that Mark and I overcame our fear of talking to him about the Lord and as a result, he gave his life to Him. It was seeing our prayers answered as we prayed for Dad that propelled me into the community where I dared to pray for instant healings in complete strangers, and saw over a dozen healed in a single evening, one right after another. It was through Dad’s battle, with all it’s twists and turns that God showed me the difference between faith from seeing miracles, and faith that comes from knowing Him. It was fighting for Dad that taught me to be steady, stable and constant in those things promised in the Word of God and where I learned to stand, resolute, when armies upon armies of demons seemed to stack themselves against me and torment my mind and derail my faith with confusion and chaos. When there was no evidence and no facts and every earthly thing and demon in hell seemed to scream “DEAD END!” it was through this that I threw away spiritual flimsiness and became a determined soldier in God’s mighty army. When Dad wanted to go to Texas, I battled the “what if’s”. “What if he dies on the way? What if my siblings never see him again. Will they resent me? Will they hate God?” It was through Dad’s battle that I realized that faith takes risks and I became willing to put everything on the line for God’s truth.
And finally, when he passed away, so unexpectedly… so contrary to the way things were supposed to be… when all the souls of every person I love appeared to hinge on Dad’s’ healing and his death made it seem as though all hope was lost. When the devil whispered in my ear and said, “See? It’s all over. They will hate God and be forever embittered against Him. They will think forever that you are a delusional zealot and your words will never have any credence.” The devil thought he triumphed, but I looked around and I took inventory and I knew this isn’t where it ends.
Dad’s life is only beginning. We cannot begin to imagine the sights he is seeing and the reunions he is having and the warmth of the embrace he is receiving from His Savior, Jesus Christ. In those final 11 weeks Dad fought a rugged battle on this earth, but he heard those blessed words, “Well done thou good and faithful soldier! Enter into thy rest!”
And those of us left down here?
In those 11 weeks, many of us were transformed. His battle unfurled courage in each of us, to believe and to fight for the truth of God’s Word. We became a family with fighting faith. And at the end of those 11 weeks, when Dad slipped so quickly into eternity, the devil thought he took it all, but you better believe that with everything I have, for the rest of my life, I am going to make sure that the enemies kingdom suffers tremendously, because Dad’s battle helped me become a warrior.
It has been said many times, “It wasn’t supposed to end this way.”
I’m going to put my whole heart and soul before you in all of it’s ugly vulnerability and say, “It doesn’t have to.” It didn’t end badly for Dad, for he’s basking in the glory of Heaven, running the streets of Gold, hugging the necks of our loved ones and embracing the King of Kings! He’s whole and he’s well and he’s strong and he’s holding our babies! It didn’t end badly for Dad!
And it doesn’t have to end badly for us. While Dad fought his battle down here in his newfound faith, seeds were scattered. Some were seeds of faith. Some were seeds of hope for something to believe in. Some were little grains of truth that sprang slowly to life in the innermost parts of your souls. For every person that felt hope rising up as you watched Dad actively live out his faith… for everyone that felt the slightest inkling within, that ‘maybe this is for real.’ ‘maybe God is active and living in breathing in lives today”; if you felt God speaking to you, nudging you… that was a seed that landed in your heart and it is a seed worth fighting for. God was and still is reaching for you and you can rise up today and say, “Dad’s story on this earth doesn’t have to end here. That seed that landed in my heart… I won’t let it be plucked up. I won’t let it get choked out. My life is going to be the fruit that testifies of Dad’s faith.”
Dad’s standing up there cheering you on. Take hold of it. Grab it. Run with it. Today is the day. Yield to it and make your eternity sure and let Christ lead you in this abundant life that comes only from knowing Him.
God wants to take what He started in Dad and exponentiate it in you.
If one small seed is permitted to germinate and spring forth out of these ashes with living breathing faith…. than I am confident this is not how the story ends.