Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The sermon was emphasizing international missions, the music was worshipful and uplifting; still three weeks ago as I sat in church, an unexplainable wave of emotion came over me. The speaker kind of reminded me of the way my father used to preach. He mentioned that his wife had battled cancer. Anytime I hear someone characterize their experience with disease as a battle, I think of the pain my father endured for years on a daily basis. As soon as I started thinking about Dad, it was like the enemy leaned over my shoulder and whispered, “God could’ve answered your prayers and healed your dad, but He didn’t.”
Right there in church the tears began to flow. I can’t think of anything in my life I spent more time praying for than for my father to be healed. I was just fifteen when he was first diagnosed with liver failure. He was successfully transplanted my senior year in High school. We looked at every day he lived after his transplant as a gift.
He lived to see his grandchildren, celebrated graduations, preached weddings and even baptized one of his grandsons. The summer after I graduated from college he took mom and me to the mountains nearly every weekend so we could see the town and he could conquer impossible mountain trails in his International Scout.
Dad cherished the second chance at life he’d been given and went right back to the work God had called him to do as a young man, the work of faithfully preaching the Gospel. Just a few months after his transplant the Doctors released him to go home. Dad and Mom came back to our home in Amarillo, Texas. With a new passion to serve, Dad went to visit the neighborhood he grew up in as a child and found children still living in physical and spiritual poverty. To him this looked like a great location to plant a church!
That same year our family started a church in downtown Amarillo where Dad began preaching again. His desire to serve so faithfully inspired many others to give their lives to preach the Gospel. For years he drove a lunch route in his old neighborhood telling the children who lived at his old address about Jesus and invited their families to church.
While he had a new liver, the disease that had destroyed his old liver was still in his blood. There would be days when he felt great and days when he was so weak he couldn’t get out of bed. The medication he took to fight the disease was a monthly injection that would bring on severe flu like symptoms.
Even though he battled illness, Dad used his testimony of faith to point others to Christ. He made the most of the good days and still pressed forward on the bad days. Many times he would say that God has been able to use him more in times of weakness than in times of great strength.
Yes, I prayed that God would heal my father. Every day. Still, four years ago this month, he passed away. Is it true that God ignored my prayers? Did God turn a deaf ear and a cold shoulder to my request? Was my faith not strong enough for God to release His healing power? That Sunday, despite all the attempts to fight the lie with the Truth, I was left with a heavy heart.
This morning Chad left the house early. It was quiet and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I opened my Bible. There in John chapter 11 I found Martha saying to Jesus, “Jesus if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
It brought me great comfort to see how Jesus responded to Martha. Jesus knew Martha did not have the same understanding He had of eternal matters. Through her grief she could not see how Jesus would use the death of her brother to bring glory to His name. Still, Jesus wanted her to understand! He wanted the faith of Mary and Martha and everyone else who was witness to the death and resurrection of Lazarus to be strengthened. Jesus comforted these sisters, showed compassion and shared in their loss; then He brought the victory!
In my father’s case, there was no instant healing, but through brokenness he lived a life of eternal significance. He believed and taught that there is more to life than what we experience here on earth.
When we trust Jesus with our life, we are trusting that while we may suffer and though we may not understand our circumstances, God can use our lives to bring glory to His name. So nothing, not even death, can destroy us when we are in Christ.
This is my response to the lie. Yes, God had the power to answer any one of my prayers and heal my father. No, there was no instant healing. Instead God did something much greater. He used the life of Don Lane to spread the hope of the Gospel so that many could be saved alive and his legacy of faith goes lives on in my life.
The night of my father’s funeral, after a full day of preaching, worship and talk of Heaven our oldest son David started asking questions about Salvation. Chad and I talked with him for a while then sent him to bed. A little while later, David came into the living room to tell us God had been talking to his heart and he prayed to accept Jesus. We prayed with him again and thanked the Lord for the hope we have in Jesus. The next Sunday David was baptized.
I am so thankful that even in the face of death we were able to tell David about how he can trust Jesus and have eternal life. We will continue to teach our children and strive to follow the example set by generations of true Christ followers before us, that nothing we face in this life can separate us from the love of our faithful God.
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?” John 11:25
I do believe! Thank you Jesus for this great HOPE!