Blog by Brook Chalfant
Have you ever experienced something so mystifying that it brings you to tears every time you think about it? For years, that moment for me was when my dad decided to sever our relationship… days before my wedding day, no less. My tears were tears of deep pain and sorrow. From 1989 to 2000, my attempts to reconcile were met with returned letters, unanswered phone calls, and rejected invitations to reconnect. The rejection caused a gaping hole in my heart.
But, can I tell you… when God says He is close to the brokenhearted, you can believe He is cheek to cheek, breath to breath, and heart to heart. In what seemed like infinite silence and gridlock, God was working overtime on my behalf, as the rest of my story proves.
In May of 2000, I got a call from my sister that my dad, who lived four hours from my Ohio home, had been rushed by ambulance to a heart hospital in Kentucky. The medics and doctors had resuscitated him multiple times and were working to stabilize him so that he could undergo quintuple bypass surgery.
I wanted to see him, but given more than a decade of brick walls and slammed doors, I was terrified. What if my presence made things worse? What if I faced the embarrassment and pain of being asked to leave the hospital? What if I arrived only to learn that my dad hadn’t made it and was smacked with no hope of even a cordial goodbye?
With courage way outside myself, I dialed the random phone number my sister had given me to see if I could connect with someone at the hospital for details before I made the trip. That’s when Miracle #1 happened: My dad, who shouldn’t have had access to a phone and who had been unconscious from the time of the ambulance ride to now, answered.
“This is Isaac,” he whispered.
“Dad? This is Brook. I heard you’re sick, and I want to come see you. Would that be ok?” I blurted out the words then held my breath and prayed.
“Brook? I’ve been asking God to bring you here. I WANT TO SEE YOU. I love you,” he said.
“I love you too, Dad. I’ll be there soon!”
And with that, the healing waters began to flow through a six-week journey of hospital trips, grueling hours in the waiting room, and repeated news of near losses and miraculous comebacks. That’s also where the next set of wonders and miracles came in.
- Even as a family member dutifully cautioned me that it was more “pragmatic” to operate as a realist who understood the odds that my dad wouldn’t make it, God’s still, small voice encouraged me: “I’m bigger. Expect the unexpected.”
- My dad came out of surgery with precarious agitation… flailing arms, profuse sweating, and screaming out my brother’s name… to the point that he was placed in a medically induced coma. Once stable and brought out of the coma, he shared that he had seen and felt the power of hell. “I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want your brother there either,” he shared emphatically. “We’ve got to get it right.” At this point, a huge shift came in my father’s countenance – and prognosis.
- Still in ICU, my dad’s spiritual heart began a healing fast-track alongside his physical one. He asked to meet the three granddaughters born in the gridlock years but needed to be well enough to move to a step-down room. So, God stepped up. That’s when I got a call from my brother that, against all odds, my dad was being transferred to a regular room. On that word, our young family piled in the car immediately and sped to Kentucky.
- When we got to my dad’s room, tears flowed and all trepidation and hurt lifted as he locked in on three bright-eyed, button-nosed beauties eager to call him “Grandpa.” Once the girls exited with their dad, I was left alone, face-to-face with a dad I wasn’t sure would ever call me his own again. Yet, peace filled the room. The religious programming that had been playing on TV in the background during our visit seemed to come forward as the preacher shared a message on the love of God. That opened a dialogue only God could have scripted.
- “Brook, I want you to know, I finally get it; it’s all about God’s love … for me, for you, for our family. I’m so sorry.”
No words from me. Just breathless tears as I held his hand.
“Father’s Day is coming up, and I want to start over. I want you all to visit us in Kentucky, and we can have a cookout, and the girls can play in the yard, and we can get things right. I love you,” Dad shared with sincerity and yearning I’d never seen in him before.
“I love you, too, Dad. And I’m sorry. Let’s try again.”
With that, my dad relaxed on his pillow, closed his eyes, and said with a hush, “Well, I’m getting a little tired. I need to rest now.” And with that, he went to be with Jesus.
It reads like a Hallmark movie, but it’s simply unimaginable, undeserved mercy and redemption on every side. And it’s for you too!
When we call on God, we can be sure He hears every prayer, sees every brave attempt to take the high road, and knows every struggle, regret, wish and possibility. Your story will look like your story, but know that God is with you. He has overcome the world. He makes streams in the desert. He infuses amazing grace all around us in spite of what we think we see or know. That’s why my tears today flow not in pain, but in humility and grateful assurance that God can redeem anything. Won’t you believe Him again?