Sunday morning at the little Cowboy Church where I was the pastor in February of this year (2011), my little sister told me that dad was home and throwin' up. I kind of laughed and told her to tell him that I said, “Get to feelin' better, cause I ain't comin' to see you and catch that bug that's goin' around.”
People had been getting sick a lot lately with this nasty little stomach bug. We had many folks miss church and work as this virus struck hard and fast.
Sunday evening about 5:00, this same little sister called me and told me that dad was in the local hospital. I told her that supper was nearly ready and that I would eat real quick and then go see him. I had just finished eating when my step-mother called and said that they were life-flighting dad to Odessa, Texas (about 80 miles away). Seems he had a blockage in his intestine. This kind of made me nervous, but I just laughed it off and told her, “Tell him to get ready to be Roto Rooter-ed! We always knew he was full of crap.”
I drove to Odessa straight from my ranch and waited on the helicopter to land.
When they brought him out of the elevator and into ICU, I was shocked at how much pain he was in. This tough man was writhing in pain (as much as a tough guy does at least). They kicked me out of ICU while they got him all hooked up.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I am standing outside of his ICU room and a doctor walks up and asks me if I am with Mr. Weatherby. I told him that I was his son and he commenced to tellin' me that the blood supply had been cut off from my dad's small intestine and that he will probably not make it.
I felt like a mule had kicked me right in the heart.
When the doctor told me that there was an 80% chance that my dad would die, I looked at him and said, “Well, 80% ain't nothin' to my God...” --and I meant it.
I walked in and watched the doctor tell my dad the same thing as I stood at the end of the bed. My dad looked at the doctor and asked, “So, you tellin' me that I'm probably gonna die from this bad belly ache?” “Yes, Mr. Weatherby. I'm sorry, but we will do what we can,” the doctor said.
My dad turned at looked at me and said, “Wow. That's a trip.”
My step-mother had to leave the room and I had to have THE talk with my dad who attended church as part of my congregation. I asked him, “Dad, I have to know that you are saved.” “Of course I am son. Don't worry about that.” “Well,” I said, “I am worried about it. I want to hear you pray and tell God that you believe in his Son and that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.” I held his hand as he prayed and said that and more.
The last thing I said to my dad when they closed the surgery doors was, “Hey Weatherby!!” He turned and looked at me. “You get in there and you ride this bull and then you get back here to the chute and I'll be waitin' on you.” He gave me a thumbs up and closed his eyes.
That morning I had preached a sermon about giving God your best. As I sat there in the surgery waiting room, I prayed and said, “God, this morning I talked about giving you our best. Well Lord, I ain't got nothing I love more on this earth than that cowboy in surgery. I don't care what happens though. I give him to you.”
I walked in the door of the ranch house about 5:30 in the morning. My wife was asleep on the couch waiting on me to come home. All the pain, all the fear, all of the positive thoughts vanished as this tough cowboy knelt down beside the couch and cried like a baby.
“It's OK honey,” my wife said as she held my head in her lap. “I know,” I sobbed.
I wept as I have never wept in my adult or even teenage life. Through my tears I pictured myself at the feet of Jesus. I felt his presence. You see, I wasn't crying because my dad had died. I was crying because he was going to be fine.
The doctor had walked out of surgery, looked me in the eye and said, “You have an awesome God. The CAT scan showed your dad's whole small intestine was dead, but when we got in there and looked, there was enough alive and your dad is gonna be fine.”
As I cried, I alternated between thanking God for the miracle he had granted me and asking him why he had done so. I'll never forget the answer that I received picturing myself kneeling down at the feet of Jesus.
As I held his feet in my mind and thanked him and asked him why he had saved my dad and answered my prayer he said, “Because I love you...”
And I cried harder after that. Experiencing true grace will do that to you. ~
Kevin Weatherby moved to Kiowa, Colorado right after this incident. He left his family, his church, his ranch, and everything else he had to heed God's call to start a cowboy ministry SE of Denver. He is married and has two kids, a son and daughter. Kevin writes Cowboy Devotionals at www.campfirecowboyministries.com where you can find nearly anything to suit your fancy. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most of all, you'll hear God's Word in a meat and taters fashion instead of fish eggs and fancy talk.