When we were children, Mother took my brother and I to church every time the doors were
opened. I remember her sewing our "Sunday clothes". I remember my brother and I fidgeting on
either side of her on that hard wooden pew every Sunday morning, listening to a pastor using
big words we couldn't yet fully understand. She was always very actively involved in our little
church, and for a long time even served as church secretary. As a result, my brother and I
became Christians at a very young age and followed in Mother's footsteps, building our faith.
My father refused to have any part of religion. His philosophy was that religion was a crutch for
weak people, and he didn't need a crutch. He wasn't weak. Oh, it's not to say that he couldn't
quote the scriptures backwards and forwards, for he knew many of them by heart. His own
father had been a minister for a time back in the Depression days. In fact, over the years Dad
loved to get us in a good religious debate and would quote the scriptures (out of context) to
make his point.
As my brother and I entered our teens, our parents divorced. I remained with Mother and my
brother chose to live with Dad. Those were very troublesome times.
Over the next several years, my brother began to doubt his faith based on lack of parental
encouragement from our father and as a result of Dad's religious debates. By the time he was in
his twenties, he had reached the conclusion that when we die our "energy bounces around in
space for all eternity" and apparently a god has nothing to do with it.
It broke my mother's heart.
Mom remained strong in her faith and tried to encourage him whenever she had the opportunity,
but those opportunities were very rare. By the time we were in our 40's, Mom developed
terminal cancer. During her last days as she was lying in hospice in a coma, my brother and I
maintained a bedside vigil for several weeks.
One evening, as we watched her sleep, he turned to me and asked, "So where IS this God that
answers all your prayers?" I told Him that He was still here and He is still faithful. He got angry
and asked, "How can you say he is faithful? Didn't you pray for Mom to get well?"
I replied,"Yes, I did." I didn't really want to get into a debate so I didn't explain to him that
although God always answers prayer, sometimes His answer is "No". I just told him that when I
realized that it was apparent that it was not God's will that she would survive this cancer, I
changed my prayer and instead, asked God to grant her mercy. I didn't try to explain to him that I
knew in my heart that God has a purpose in all things for I knew he wouldn't understand. In fact,
at the time, I'm not sure even I fully understood.
He stared at me for a long time and said, "So where IS this mercy. She's DYING!"
I walked to his side and we stood next to her bed and I asked him, "Listen. Tell me what you
This wing of hospice was filled with the sounds of death and dying: people crying out in pain,
one yelling for a nurse, another yelling incoherently, and the hustle and bustle of medical
personnel up and down the hallway. He listened but didn't reply. Then I asked him, "Now, what
do you hear coming from this room?"
"Nothing," he finally replied.
"That's my point," I said. In Mom's room, there was peace. I explained, "Mom is still, comfortable,
resting under the cover of God's grace and mercy." Yes, she was in the throes of death, but
neither thrashing the covers nor crying out in pain, and on her face was a look of rest and peace.
At first, he just grunted and walked away to sit back in the chair. After a few moments he asked
me inquisitively, "So, tell me ~ where do you get this faith of yours?"
I headed for the hallway and told him, "Hold that thought. I'll be right back." I left hospice for one
of the very few times during those days and hurried the short distance home. Inside the
headboard of my bed was a Bible that Mom had given me several years ago. The binding was
gone and the pages loose so I had filled the binding with glue and placed a big rubber band
around it, set it in the headboard and just eventually forgot all about it. Now, I remembered.
I hurried back to hospice with that beat-up old Bible and walked back over to my brother. I said,
"Mom gave me this several years ago. I think she would want you to have it." He was confused
but took off the rubber band and opened to the first page which had her name and the date.
He looked at me with shock and said, "That's the year you were born! I think she would want
you to have this." I smiled and told him that I have her new one, and I wanted him to have the
old one. Then I explained to him, "This is the Bible that made HER faith so strong all those
years she was raising us, taking us to church every time the doors were open. This is the one
that sat on her lap when you sat on her left and I sat on her right in the pew every Sunday. It's
filled with her notes and thoughts in the columns, and has all of her highlighted passages. THIS
is where her faith came from. THIS is where she learned how to be strong and pass that faith
along to her children. THIS is the root from where I got my faith. I've just asked God to continue
to strengthen my faith and He does this because I have put my complete trust in Him."
He never said a word, just held that Bible tenderly in his hands, remembering.
Later that night, as I lay on the fold-out couch listening to Mom's breathing, I glanced his way
and noticed he was sitting in the recliner, reading that Bible. In fact, several times throughout
that night, I could still see him sitting in the lamplight, still reading.
Nothing else was said about it until Mom's funeral many days later. After the service, I noticed
my brother had walked back over to the casket and was standing there with his head bowed. I
walked over to him to give him comfort and put my arm around his waist. He turned to me and
as he wiped tears from his eyes he said, "Sis, I was wrong."
At first I didn't know what he meant, and then he said, "I just made a promise to Mom. I'm going
back to church. I was wrong." I knew what he meant.
We hugged for a few minutes and he made the comment that he wished Mom knew. I hugged
him and told him, "She knows." What I didn't tell him, was that she loved him so much that if she
had known that her dying of cancer would be all it would have taken to bring her son back to the
faith and put him right with the Lord, I know she would have schemed a way to have died years
earlier. It was THAT important to her. I know she has an extra smile in Heaven for this miracle
that she had prayed for so many years.
There is a God. He still performs miracles. But it didn't stop here.
Less than ten months later, my father died from heart failure. This wasn't a long, drawn out
illness where we knew what was coming. It came on suddenly and was over as quickly. I
grieved horribly over his death because as a Christian, I just couldn't believe he was gone from
us ~ eternally. I had prayed for Dad in every prayer out of my mouth for more than forty years,
but it just seemed that his heart was so hardened that he would never accept the Lord. He had
been turning his back on God for 73 years. In my heart, I believed he was gone from me
eternally now and there was an immense sadness in my spirit.
Then, we were blessed to learn of another miracle! Just hours before Dad's funeral, as we
were sitting around visiting with friends and family, the mail arrived. The Postal Carrier came to
the door and asked us if she could speak with us for a moment. I was surprised, but eager to
hear what she had to say. She stepped inside the door with tears in her eyes and told us this
story. I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember her exact words, but it went something like
"I've known your father for a very long time. For years, he would meet me at the mailbox and we
would cut up and joke around a bit when I would bring his mail. But for the last year, he's been
asking me a lot of questions about God. He was smart. He knew a LOT of scriptures, but he
was very confused about a lot of things. So we just talked, bits and pieces here and there. I
don't know if you know this or not, but about six months ago, standing at the mailbox, your father
accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior."
My mouth flew open. He never told us. Maybe he was too embarrassed. Besides, he would
never want us to think he was "weak". We hugged her, thanked her profusely for sharing the
story, and welcomed that wonderful feeling of peace that filled our hearts. Years of prayer,
years of religious debates, years of witnessing by one person or another, and God selected this
wonderful woman, a United States Postal Service Carrier to finally open Dad's heart.
There IS a God. He IS faithful, and He STILL performs miracles. Most of the time, miracles are
performed outside the realm of our awareness. But on rare occasions, we are blessed with a
special opportunity to glimpse God's hand at work and see His purpose fulfilled. Never give up
hope. Pray without ceasing. Keep praying for YOUR miracles.
(And be extra nice to your Mail Carrier!)
|A God of Miracles
© Ferna Lary Mills
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