I took this picture just before they wheeled my dad off to open his chest and perform a grueling four hour surgery on his heart. They came to get him 3 and 1/2 hours behind schedule and the anticipation was brutal. We tried to psyche him up as much as we could by praying, singing worship songs and reading scripture. As they finally came around the corner I looked down and saw the Bible on his chest and it occurred to me that I couldn’t think of a single day of my dad’s life that didn’t include God’s Word. An open Bible on the kitchen counter, coffee table, on his desk or on a table at a cafe was literally an everyday occurrence if my dad was involved. He meditates on God’s Word day and night.
As an expert when it comes to Christian broadcasting, for over 30 years my dad has spent his life putting God’s Word on the internet, radio, and tv. Countless millions have heard the gospel because of him. It will be a joy in eternity to hear the stories of those who have come to know Christ listening to radio stations or watching a tv special he orchestrated. But I can tell you that behind the scenes, as much as he has tried to fill the airwaves with Scripture, he has also made sure his own heart reverberated with it. You literally can’t walk into a room or vehicle he is in without hearing a John Macarthur, Chuck Swindoll, or a Louie Giglio podcast coming from a radio, laptop, or car stereo. As kids, we knew whether we were late or on time for school based on whether Jon Courson’s radio program had started to play yet. The morning of his surgery I walked into his room to see him cranking out a few last minute emails and heard Steven Furtick coming from his macbook pro.
It has been a week and a half since I received the phone call that he suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital in Florida, all by himself, but I am still sorting through the emotions from it all. As soon as I heard the news I bolted for the airport and even though it took me four different flights, I got to him as soon as I could. I spent four days at his bedside with my brothers and sisters, praying and trying to be there for him, and then after a whirlwind weekend of speaking in Arizona, somehow I am back in Montana. I can hardly believe it really happened. As a pastor I am around emergencies and death enough to know that these things take time to sink in.
I know this for sure, my dad is fortunate to be alive. A million americans have heart attacks each year and half of them die. Half of those that die do so within the first hour of symptoms appearing and before they reach the hospital. That could have easily been him. Because he eats so healthy, and exercises so frequently he is the last person that you would think would have a heart attack. He couldn’t believe what was happening either and waited WAY TOO LONG to seek help. He tried to ride it out in his hotel room, thinking it would pass. It didn’t. He finally made his way down to the front desk and asked them to call a doctor. They did what he should have done an hour earlier and called 911. By God’s grace he was only 5 blocks away from a hospital that is ranked nationally for their heart department and his life was saved.
My dad is my hero. He was the best man in my wedding and to this day, apart from Jennie, he is my best friend. There isn’t hardly a day that goes by where we don’t text, talk or email each other. It is a joy to partner with him in ministry on several different fronts. He pushes me on in my walk with God, and as a pastor. But the bar that he has set so high for me, which I will always aspire to reach, is as a father. If I could be half the dad to my daughters that he has been to me I will be thrilled.
It is interesting, because in the days leading up to the surgery they told us he could go into cardiac arrest and drop dead at any moment, so we felt like we sat on the edge of eternity as we waited. Thankfully there weren’t any apologies or grudges we needed to work through as a family, but had there been we were given a great gift in having the opportunity should we have needed it. Let me give you advice in case there is someone in your family that you are at odds with–call them up right now and work through it! Don’t leave anything unsaid. Life is a vapor. As it turns out this weekend is Father’s day, a perfect opportunity to honor your dad by thanking him or by following a godly example and being apart of his legacy.