My Story: From Death to Life
Tomorrow it will be 20 years since my dad died.
August 14, 1999. 3:14PM. It was a Saturday.
I had just started 9th grade the previous week. I was 14 years old.
Even though it was 20 years ago, I remember the day very well.
My dad woke me that morning asking me if I wanted to go play golf with him. I declined. I am still not sure if I regret that decision or am thankful for it. I slept in that day only to begin my outdoor work after the temperatures reached that typical Mississippi mix of humidity so high you need a knife to cut through it and sun beaming death rays from the heavens that equals a “feels like” well above 100º.
At some point I decided to go do my job for the day which consisted of cutting the grass at High Hill Baptist Church – I had a little grass cutting business. And yes, I was driving at 14.
I was on the lawnmower when my mom whipped into the parking lot. She limped (ankle injury) out to the other side of the car motioning frantically for me to come to her. I came over to her, and she said “Get in the car! Your dad has blacked out on the golf course!” I left the lawnmower, all the other equipment, and an unlocked truck (all with keys still in them) just setting there. I have no idea how or when we got them home.
On the way to the hospital I had lots of questions, but mom didn’t have many answers. I knew it was bad though by how fast she was driving.
Interestingly enough I prayed relatively often. My prayers were mainly motivated by fears and hopes though. Fear of something bad happening to me and wanting God to help, or prayers asking God for stuff like a new four-wheeler or for a specific girl to “like me back.” I would have told you I was a Christian if you had asked. I may have been. But I don’t think I was. I think I believed in God, but I had no real understanding of the Gospel, sin, or the Bible. I had just enough Jesus and Church to explain the bare basics of Christmas and Easter to you.
My prayer was very simple: “God, if you are real… if you are there… please let my dad be ok.”
I knew enough to know that God loved me. And I was convinced that since he loved me there was no way anything too tragic could occur to me or to my family. I mean, why would God who has all power allow something terrible to happen to someone He loves?
We arrive to the hospital where I immediately run in… Cut-off t-shirt, jeans, work boots, and all… I grab a nurse and say, “Where’s my dad!?!” She calmly responds, “who is your dad?” When I say his name, “Wayne Moorehead,” her face told me all I needed to know.
In that moment, I knew he was gone.
We were then escorted to the hospital chapel.
As a pastor, I go to the hospital quite often. I still get queasy when passing by the chapel.
“He didn’t make it son,” the doctor tells me.
The next few minutes are a blur. Eventually, I did the only thing I knew to do.
I called Brett Cooper. He was and still is the pastor of Rocky Hill Church of God right down the road from my home.
Moments after he arrived, we went in to “see the body.” Me, my mom, Bro. Brett, and my Aunt Jackie (dad’s sister).
It was the worst moment of my entire life.
Seeing my dad’s lifeless, swollen, pale, and cold body just lying there… I picked up his hand. Under my breath, I prayed again. “God, please. God, please. Make him alive again. Please.” I fully expected to let go of his hand and for it to not fall. For him to be “alive again.”
Side Note: I cheer for Ole Miss because of my dad. Up until that point I always cheered for Mississippi State for no other reason than to spite him. He had promised me that year (Thanksgiving) that we would go to the Egg Bowl together. As he lay there on that table, he was decked out in Ole Miss apparel. Thusly… Hotty Toddy!
There was no Lazarus moment.
For several days, I cried every day.
And then I didn’t. At all. For a long time.
I realized either God is not real, or if He were real, He must be an awful God to allow this to happen.
Almost a year passes by. It was a bad year. A year full of depression, anger, hatred, among many sinful things that aren’t worthy of being discussed.
Pastor Brett Cooper continued his investment in my life. He would visit me often taking me for ice cream and other various outings. He loved me.
On June 14, 2000, I was cutting grass again… Apparently all my life-altering moments revolve around yard work.
Wendy Dionne, the then new youth leader at Rocky Hill, pulled over on the side of the road and invited me to a “youth revival” that night at her church which just happened to be the same church that Bro. Brett pastored which just happened to be the church less ¼ mile down the road from my house.
Despite all odds, I went.
I got saved.
And by saved, I mean that I walked into that church a God-hating, depressed, angry, suicidal teenager, and I walked out having been raised to new life in Christ.
Often when I share my testimony, I say that the death of my earthly father is what led me to discover the love of my Heavenly Father.
20 years have passed since his death.
When I look back, while there is some sadness, the main emotion I am filled with is one of overwhelming thankfulness. I am thankful that God didn’t quit on me even though I quit on Him. I’m thankful for a loving pastor and a gracious youth pastor who invested in me. I’m thankful for my mom who did the best she could despite her own pain. I’m thankful for the class of 2003 that rallied around me and loved me.
I’m just so thankful, and I am so blessed. But most of all…
God is so good… and He is the best daddy.