I miss my dad so much! But I also rejoice as I remember where he is now, even when I have to be reminded in the simple but heartfelt prayers of my five-year-old daughter, “God, I thank you that Granddad is in Heaven with you, and I want you to take good care of him.”
In November 2003, the month we announced we were adopting, my dad was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, metastasized to his lymph system. It was a huge shock, and we learned that with cancer, we must live day by day, always waiting for the next report, the next treatment, the next procedure, the next trial.
It was no secret that since the Lord had miraculously saved me, I had been trying to ‘help’ him bring my dad to Christ. Clayton and I had committed to certain lifestyle changes, new habits and traditions. I had even written my dad a lengthy letter asking him to accept Christ. But most of the time we were afraid to actually talk to him about the goodness of the Lord and how He had changed our lives. We were content to just ‘show’ him the difference.
All that changed in October 2007! Dad had miraculously survived almost four years of various treatments, but eventually the cancer had metastasized to his brain, near his optic nerve and my parents chose to undergo a pretty drastic procedure to retard the growth, without which Dad would have certainly become blind, and even worse, within a very short time.
We had an amazing Christmas that year with my brothers and our parents staying at our home. Though Dad was weak, he loved on all his grandkids, and we had seen a gradual ‘softening’ in him over time. Then on January 2, 2008 my mom called to say they were on the way to the hospital. Dad had become increasingly dizzy and disoriented. He ended up in ICU at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City. He had symptoms similar to a stroke. Little did we know he would never again walk or go home, home as we know it anyway.
Seeing him in such a frail state I feared all hope had been lost. This was not my dad. Why had I wasted so much time in fear of talking to him about the most important decision he could ever make? My brothers and I began praying that God would grant him lucid moments and give him breath until he had a chance to profess Jesus as His Lord and Savior.
I made the two hour trip to the hospital several times a week, praying the entire trip and always searching for opportunities to share with Dad. We were blessed with the fact that Dad always knew his kids, even though he might not have known anything else. We had many good moments, some good days, several good conversations and some really bad days. My brothers and I took advantage of every lucid moment the Lord granted us, but Dad’s answer was always, “Not today,” or “I might beat this thing.” We continued to pray. I admit, I became discouraged often and would call friends for godly counsel. In my heart, I just knew my dad would make a decision for the Lord, but it was obvious his time was running out.
Eventually, Dad was moved out of ICU onto the floor, then to a hospital closer to my parents’ home, and then sadly, into a nursing home. My mom practically lived in the home with him, only taking a short reprieve occasionally to go to work or travel home to feed their livestock.
Growing increasingly frustrated but still prayerful, one day as I was making the trip to see my parents, I called my brother, Kirk, and he shared with me that his prayer had become that God would somehow use my mom since she was the one who spent the most time with Dad. So the rest of the trip I prayed for the same thing.
My mom would always give me moments alone with Dad because she knew we were talking to him about the Lord, reading the Word and praying with him. On this day she told me of a tract my brother had left and asked if I might want to ‘try something different’ and use the tract. I searched the room and never did find the tract, so I just resorted to what I knew, sharing what Jesus had done in my life. As my mom was walking me to the car, I told her I never could find the tract, but I had still shared with him, and once again his answer was, “I’m thinking about it, but not today.” Then she said these words, “I’ve been thinking that since I spend more time than anybody with him, maybe I need to start talking to him about making a decision.” I couldn’t believe my ears! God was already answering our prayers! I couldn’t wait to call my brother and tell him to keep prayin’!
Nearly a week later, May 8th to be exact, my mom called and tearfully told me, “He did it, Honey. He made a decision for the Lord!” I asked her to share every detail with me. She had used the ‘hidden’ tract to share the Gospel message with my dad, he read it, and made a decision! It was what we had been praying so long for!
Seven weeks later, on June 26, we celebrated my dad’s 62nd birthday, and one week after that, July 3, 2008, he went to his eternal home! While we miss him terribly, I believe his salvation has had a huge impact on many lives, to God’s glory.
I’m so glad I couldn’t find that silly tract. It was all part of God’s plan.