I was sitting by the hospital bed moving his arm up and down, as the coma had caused lots of bed sores from non-movement. We did daily exercises for his benefit, but also out of boredom. Day in and day out, we walked across the channel connecting the hospital to the hotel. My small family traveled back and forth to see him. Our months were tirelessly spent in the visiting room and sitting next to dad.
As I moved his arm up, I thought I felt a slight hint of resistance. Not too sure, I didn’t say anything at first. Then I suddenly felt it again…now my heart was racing a bit. We stood over him, after calling a nurse, checking all his vitals and preforming a, “reaction test” to see if he was responding. The moment had finally came; he was waking up.
My dad & I were never exactly close. He was an ex-Marine, and I was a mouthy teenager. The two clashed terribly on a daily basis. I often felt that he didn’t understand me, wasn’t fair, and plain and simple— didn’t love me. I was excited that there might be a chance to tell him how much I loved him, now that he was waking up.
The man who opened his eyes was much different than the one who fell asleep. It was a tragic battle each day for our tired family. The day of my father’s terrible accident, my sister and I were also in a bad car wreck. Dad worked in construction and was restoring the side of an old church downtown, when he lost his balance and fell three stories to the concrete below. An hour later, my sister & I were a in bad collision, immobilizing our entire family in just a few short moments.
As my mom drove up to the scene, she must have realized that her whole life was under attack. My father was being life-lined to a hospital, assumed not to survive, my sister and I were scared & injured—all within moments of each other. Our lives came to a pivotal moment in time that none of us will soon forget.
Now he was waking up. We were quickly learning what brain injuries entail. He had to learn everything over again and as he did, it looked different than before. It took years of recovery before he was functioning at his finest. Learning to talk and walk were obviously vital to his treatment. Learning to count and color were necessities, and therapy proved itself to be a unique new world. Back to the basics was the theme, starting over, raising a “child-like” man was no walk in the park for any of us, especially my mother.
Our family didn’t pray or know Jesus at the time. We didn’t know how to call on Him for our needs, we didn’t read scripture or worship in any capacity and we never tagged our requests to a living God. Everything was just fate and circumstance.
Dad was an atheist, professed to be a non-believer in every fashion. There was a Bible in the house, but he only read it to prove it wrong. Many times, he would meet with my Uncle, a Baptist Pastor, and dispute the scriptures. Many times, Dad would drive home feeling like he won the debate. He loved words and poetry, and to him that is what the Bible was—a fancy book full of fancy words that tried to convince people of a central topic.
As he woke from his coma, one of the first things we noticed was he started talking about Jesus and scripture. The very things he had studied to disprove, became truth embedded deep into the heart of his entire being, while he was asleep. His physical strength increased as did His spiritual strength. There was never a moment when he remembered not knowing and loving God. The Lord became personal to him, and they were solid friends for many years.
My dad fell asleep as a non-believer.
But, he woke up a follower of Christ.
Please take a moment for that to sink in. He lay asleep…a dead man, and woke up as a living testimony of God’s mercy.
This series of events led to the conversion on many people, including myself. When my dad passed away from this life, it was hard to be upset.
As a father, he taught me how to pray and he also was an example to me of how intentional and passionate God’s love for us is. He was a witness that the Lord will pursue the heart of men even if it takes trial and tragedy to capture their heart.
As Jesus rolls the stone away from the impossible, inside the heart of a tomb is hope and redemption. If He cares enough to allow circumstance as ugly as deep pain in order to reveal to you His compassionate gift of eternity, then nothing and no one is outside the grace of God’s love.
I hope you enjoy the story of my Dad’s conversion. There were times in my life that I questioned why a loving God would allow such hurt to come into our lives. Then one day I watched my Dad, the same man who raised me to not love God, submit to the Creator of the universe. I saw him raise his hands and worship, with no reservation, a God who rescued him while the world waited on him to die…and then I knew…
We serve a God who will do whatever it takes to show you absolute abundant love.