Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Father: A Man Of Faith

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." ~ Mark Twain

My father, Norval E. Maness.

Whenever I needed good advice, I just picked up the phone and called him. I wish I could do that today. I am sure he is looking down, watching over me now, but I wish I could talk to him one more time.

He raised 6 children, and he did a pretty good job. All but one have turned out well rounded, responsible adults. I know I have integrity and honesty because I learned from the example set by my dad. Not because of anything I've done.

Let me tell you an amazing story about my Dad.

Dad was a man of faith. Full time, he was an engineer at the Military Aircraft division of  Boeing Corporation. Part time, he was a lay preacher and a deacon in the Baptist church.  Before I was born, he was a sort of circuit riding preacher in  Missouri. He even preached at least once in the church that the infamous Jesse James had once been a member. He actually met an elderly member of that church who had known Jesse James personally.

After I was born, Dad was a Sunday School teacher, and would often fill in at various local churches for a vacationing or ill pastor. When I was a child, he was asked to be the pastor of a mission our church was planting. I couldn't have been more than 10 at the time, and I still recall a very moving illustration he used in one sermon.

Dad had his faults, though.  For one thing, he was a chain smoker. Of course, back in those days, smoking didn't carry the stigma with it that it does now. A lot of wonderful Christian people smoked in those days. It was common.

His smoking eventually caught up with him, and he became very ill after he retired from Boeing. The malady at the time was called Chronic Respiratory Pulmonary Disease. It has a different name now. He suffered with this disease for several years. I don't remember exactly how long he suffered but it had to be over 5 years, if not more. It is a cruel and tortuous disease. He had great difficulty breathing, and his lungs were often so sore form trying to breathe he could barely stand the pain.

As the disease progressed he became weaker and weaker. He became dependent upon oxygen and the disease spawned other diseases, such as Diabetes and emphysema, At times, it got so bad that he had to go to the hospital to receive treatment to keep him alive and breathing. He had a calender on the wall on which he marked his good days and bad days. The bad days began to outnumber the good.

Finally, he could no longer remain home. He was admitted to the hospital and the doctors informed he and my Mother that he would probably not be coming home. A couple of days later we were told he would not last the night. He was on his deathbed.

As I said, my father was a man of faith and on that day, weary of the painful struggle to live, he prayed a prayer, that went something like this:

"Father, I can't go on like this. "If it is your will that I should die, take me quickly. If you would have me live, heal me." Tomorrow at 2:00Pm, I want to be either healed or dead. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen."

Dad lived through the night, and at exactly 2:00 P.M. he drew the first clear breath he had drawn in many years.

The doctors were astounded. They performed tests and checked and double checked the results. They could not find any trace of the disease that had ravaged my father for over 5 years.

My father was healed. Completely.

Shortly thereafter, My Mom and dad signed up with the Home mission board of the Kansas-Nebraska convention of Southern Baptists. The Mission board assigned them to serve as church planters in Claflin, a small town in Central Kansas. They answered the challenge, and soon they were having church services for a handful of people, with Dad serving as their pastor. No doubt, he shared his miracle story with the congregation, and I know they were blessed by his testimony.

Once the Claflin church was firmly established, the Home Mission board brought them back home to Wichita. Shortly after that, Dad's disease came back, and this time progressed much more rapidly. One Sunday night after my parents had returned home from evening services, Dad told Mom he wasn't feeling well and was going to bed. He never got there. He stopped walking right there in the middle of his living room and collapsed. He was dead before he hit the floor.

I firmly believe we all here on this earth to fulfill God's purpose for our lives. Dad believed that, too. Before Dad's remarkable and miraculous recovery, he often said he knew he was supposed to do something important for God, but didn't know what God had in mind for him.

I know what his purpose was. God saved him and kept him healthy until he had fulfilled his purpose.

Some would say that what happened to my Dad was mere coincidence, that there is a scientific explanation for his recovery.

But I know my family witnessed a genuine miracle.


Marshall Art said...

A wonderful remembrance on Father's Day. Thanks.

Mark said...

Thanks, Art. How could one forget such a miraculous thing?

Z said...

That is an amazing story, Mark, thanks SO much for mentioning your post at my place. I really appreciate was WELL worth the read.
It is a miracle...God certainly had plans for your dad and your dad fulfilled them.

I hope you had a good Sunday, Mark. xxx

Always On Watch said...

What a terrific story for Father's Day, Mark!

You know, good parents make such a difference in their children's lives. My parents, who met late in life and married at age 39 and age 34 respectively, were thrilled to have found one another and to have one child (Me!). They didn't spoil me -- not at all. They were level-headed and LOVED me so much.