In the days before satellite radio, podcasts and the Internet as a whole, my Daddy drove the highways of Mississippi for work every single day. And as he traveled, he listened to sermons. He probably had more spiritual instruction in one week than most people have in a year. He shepherded my brothers and I with a wisdom borne of his hunger for Godly instruction and discipleship.
And so when he was fighting cancer in the early 1990s and called me to recommend an evangelist he had heard on the radio, I eagerly listened and arranged my schedule to hear the man speak the next time the program aired. The gentleman, David Ring, is an evangelist who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. His message was beautiful and my heart was encouraged listening to him. When in the days following my dear Daddy's death, we learned that David Ring would be speaking near our home in Huntsville, AL, Wade and I went. I went to honor my Daddy's memory. I went to have my heart encouraged. I went because of that phone call early in his cancer fight. I went because I missed my Daddy so very much and this felt like sitting beside him on the church pew.
I had no idea that I went because three years LATER, I would give birth to three babies months too early and my two boys would have Cerebral Palsy.
I had no idea that what I found healing in the grief of my Daddy's death was really so much more. It was in fact my Dad preparing me for the years to come. He shepherded me through all the years he lived and in this final gift -- he would shepherd me through some of my scariest days. Because of my daddy, I knew that my boys' future was bright and that no diagnosis could prevent God using them every single day.
Today, David Ring was speaking a couple of hours north of us. Wade heard about it and asked if we wanted to go. The college kids came home. We re-arranged our schedules. And we loaded the van and headed north.
I might have "Amen-ed" a little too loudly when he said Cerebral Palsy and buttons don't go well together. I might have really "Amen-ed" too loudly when he said that the small buttons on collars are straight out of the pit of hell. His humor was funny in the early 90s. Healing even in the months after my Daddy's death. But today, he was talking from a place that spoke to my Mama-heart.
And when he said that the blood of Jesus is ENOUGH to even overcome Cerebral Palsy, the tears might have leaked out a little.
Twenty-three years ago, I went to hear this man because my Daddy wanted me too. I wanted to honor his memory. Today, I went because I needed to say thank you to David for being faithful with his story so that Wade and I would have hope twenty years ago.
I went because I needed to sit on the pew next to my Daddy and be shepherded by him again.