How God raised an old atheist (my father) from the dead
and saved him
My father. . . . My father was like a hurricane in human form when I was young. Bold, intelligent, opinionated . . . and many of my childhood memories of him involve him being angry. From the time I was little, he often talked and joked about killing himself. Why? I’m sure it’s more complicated that this, but one of the roots of it was when he was a young man (13 or 14), his own father passed away after he’d prayed that God wouldn’t let his daddy die. To top it off, a lot of church people in the very small community where he lived said things like, “If there’s anything you need . . .” Well, my father was the only son, the youngest child of a farmer . . . and it was harvest time . . . and they all knew it. Not one of those people came to help. A lot of the crops on my father’s family farm rotted in the fields, and for almost the rest of his life, my daddy hated those people. More importantly, he hated the God he thought they served. Whenever some pastor ran off with someone else's wife, whenever a church leader faced criminal charges, or some deacon in a church cheated him in a business deal, my father would cite it as further evidence of the falsehood of Christianity, the ridiculousness of religion. Up into middle age, my father’s life seemed a constant brawl with God, filled with trials and hardships. He thought of himself as an atheist, but the sheer vitriol he expressed toward God made me wonder -- how could my dad hate someone whom he claimed didn’t exist?
Much to my father’s dismay, my sister came to know Jesus when she was in high school, I came to know Him in my mid-twenties, and my mom started walking with the Lord about a decade after that. Although he softened in his later years, my dad held onto his opinions. Even as he got older and he could look back at some successes in life, sometimes he’d still be overwhelmed with melancholy.
But in the summer of 2011, a drunk driver knocked down the fence in my parent's back yard and the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my father would die while fixing that fence. He was in his mid-eighties and all of us had been praying for Daddy for decades . . . but my prayers for him took on a new intensity. I shared with my sister what the Lord told me, and we tried to make sure he had someone to fix that fence. I prayed more than ever that God wouldn’t let my father slip from this earth before He knew Jesus.
The call came. Even though he'd agreed to the help my sister offered in fixing the fence, he decided to go out there and do it himself. He must have felt woozy or something because he sat down on the tailgate of his pickup truck. Then he fell back into the bed of the truck and died, lying there for nobody knows how long on a warm day. Just one of the many miracles the Lord worked for my father was that an ER nurse (who didn’t know any of us) was about to go to bed after a long shift and she literally got this urgent feeling that she HAD to get in her car and drive someplace. She wasn’t certain where or why, but the feeling was so strong that she did . . . and happened upon the scene where other people driving by had already seen my father’s legs dangling from the tailgate of his truck, pulled over, gotten my mother from the house, called 911, and started CPR (but had been unsuccessful in getting his heart to beat). The nurse stopped her car, ran up, and took over. She got his heart started and then even went with my mom and sister to the hospital when the ambulance took my dad away.
Because he’d gotten so warm, doctors put my father in a coma and chilled him down for 24 hours. I flew into town and we kept watch over him. They took him off the coma medication . . . but he just stayed in a coma day after day. Doctors said that every hour he stayed like that, the chances of him coming back were rapidly diminishing.
All we could do was pray. And if any Christian came to the room and asked if we wanted prayer for Daddy, we gladly accepted it. Amazingly, even as the days ticked by—three, four, six, ten . . . we had such peace at night when each of us went to bed that we could all actually sleep. We had NO IDEA what God might be doing . . . but He was giving us peace that He was at work. That peace was hard to hold onto at times, but then I’d spend time talking to the Lord, and there was that peace again.
The hospital was edging toward the “let’s unplug him” or “let’s move him to a facility” conversation, but unless or until we actually got to that spot, all we could do was pray. Even if my dad had died at that time, I had peace that the Lord had accomplished something in Daddy.
Day thirteen dawned and it was my birthday. Nobody in the family had the heart to wish me a happy birthday that morning. We got dressed and were getting ready to go to the hospital when the nurse in the ICU called us. She said my Daddy was awake and responding to her by squeezing her hands. :-) To me it was like:
Happy birthday Terry!
My dad was still on a respirator, but he was alert, focusing on us, and able to squeeze our hands. The neurologist said it was a BIG deal that he was still “in there” after so much time. Just how much of him was there we didn’t know, but he was, indeed, responding.
And the next few weeks were rocky on and off. (One doctor took my sister and I aside and told us Daddy would just fade away physically and we should just take him home and let him die). For the most part, my father couldn’t move because his muscles had atrophied so much while he was in a coma. But (to the amazement of everyone) his mind was working. He talked very slowly the first week, and had trouble with short-term memory for about three weeks or so, but after that his mind worked just fine. He had to go to rehab to get some strength back, but his heart was so damaged, they weren’t sure he’d EVER be able to do anything for himself--not even shave or feed himself.
But despite the doctor’s expectations, my dad got stronger and stronger. After two weeks in rehab, he came home in a wheelchair. Before this happened just the possibility of being in a wheelchair would have made my father want to die and when he first came home, he was distressed over it. But within a couple of weeks of being home, he started walking around the house, then around his yard, then mowing his lawn on his riding mower, cleaning his pool, and then going to Walmart and shopping with Mom. (I don’t want to give a false impression here and say that he returned to his former vigor. He was getting around—far beyond predictions—but he was diminished in capacity.)
Did he recall anything from his time in a coma? He had NO recollections of it . . . yet in despite of all he went through and all he’d lost, he became joyous . . . and grateful. That Christmas, he was less than two months out of the hospital. (When I was a kid, my father would be at his worst at Christmas. The religious aspect of this holiday would put him in a real MOOD.) But this year . . . it was like his first Christmas. He was so happy to be able to go to spend Christmas Eve with all the nearby family members.
We all sensed that God was lending Daddy to us for just a while longer. We had asked for another chance for him, and he was getting it. What he did with that chance was still up to him.
Dear reader, I can’t tell you how much God loves you. I hope you allow yourself to soak that in. If you think it’s all “fate” or that God has plotted out all of our days like a chess match and you’re just a pawn, or that some form of Karma will eventually pay you back for every bad choice . . . I hope you’ll reconsider—and ponder for at least a moment that the One who created ALL of this loves us, and allows each of us to choose whether or not to love Him back. When we choose Him, we are cut from the wild tree where we were grown and grafted into God’s family tree. It changes everything.
Nearly six months after he died the first time, my Daddy started winding down and he knew it. They took him to the hospital and called me. I flew to get there. He was still in his right mind, but his body was beginning to shut down. It wouldn’t be long they told us.
Several days into his hospital stay, my sister spent the day with him, praying and singing hymns whenever my father slept. As it turned out, he actually was awake for a good bit of it and when it was getting toward evening, he told her how much he’d enjoyed it. He was writing notes on a little yellow pad because he was wearing an oxygen mask and it was difficult to talk. He told her his pain meds were coming soon. She said that was fine. But then he indicated to her that he wanted to do something before the meds came, while he still had a clear head. She asked what he wanted. Here is what he wrote: "Jesus -- will you take me now?"
They joyously prayed together and my iron-willed father finally surrendered his life to the Lord who had wanted to comfort and love him his whole life.
Four days later, he went home to Heaven while I was holding his hand.
Yes, the Lord did MANY miracles on my father’s behalf . . . but my dad being able to give himself to Jesus was the biggest one of all.
Again, I have probably experienced thousands of divine, Holy Spirit ministry moments in my life. I’ve seen the Lord do a few things I’m not sure I’ll ever write about. I've known two people who were healed of MS when they were literally on their death beds, and I've known others who were healed of deadly tumors and other diseases. I'm not talking about temporary healing or some placebo effect, or healing through medicine. I mean miraculous healing. But all of this pales in comparison to the person of Jesus and what He came to give us.
If you are desperate or searching, I cannot (nor can anyone else) guarantee you will get a miracle or a gift or any other thing you might be seeking. I want to tell you that I think Jesus probably feels a bit sad about miracles sometimes because they tend to make a circus of things when what He REALLY wants to do is open the door to Father God. If you haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend giving all that you are to Jesus and choosing to follow Him for the rest of your journey on this planet. The Lord says that when someone does this, all of Heaven rejoices.
So, it doesn't matter where you are or who you are or how old you are. If you're wondering,
The answer is, "Yes."
By Terry L. Craig, © 2013
Feel free to print a personal copy of this article out or post a link to it. All we ask is that you keep the entire article (including the copyright notices) intact, that you don't sell it or use it for commercial purposes, or as part of a commercial work.
You may contact the publisher regarding this article by clicking here on the Contact link.
This is a segment of a larger article on Healing that discussed whether or not healing is for today. The article on Healing is one of 11 articles in a series on Prophecies, Visions, Angels, & Miracles.
You might also want to read,
The Guaranteed Healing Method (Newly Added!)