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FIRST-PERSON: A father’s account of the death of his son & God’s provision

EDITORS’ NOTE: On Sept. 30, 2001, God had completed Dyson Rusher’s task here on earth, after a life of four years and eight months. His parents, Brett and Stephanie Rusher of Ordway, Colo., however, and his 7-year-old sister, Callie, have found numerous ministry opportunities because of Dyson’s death. Their own faith has been renewed and deepened to a level they never imagined. And they’ve seen lives changed because of the work God is doing related to Dyson’s death. These are Brett’s words. It’s his story … as a father and as a believer.

ORDWAY, Colo. (BP)–Dyson was known to everyone as “Biff.” He was a wreck waiting to happen. He pretty much led a charmed life. That kid didn’t have a care in the world. He was almost always happy, and almost always up to something. Like most little kids, he had a gift from God. He touched the heart of almost everyone. A lot of people never knew his name, but everybody remembered him.

The Lord gave Dyson to us for four years and eight months. When he went to be with his Father in heaven, it was one of the most heartbreaking things we ever went through. More importantly, it was one of the most beautiful times in our lives.

I was working as a sales representative for a local feed store, but part of my job was to come in and watch the counter occasionally. Since Stephanie worked too, I sometimes took Callie and Dyson in with me. There were toys and things for them to play with, so they enjoyed being there. It was on such a day that our lives changed forever.

The kids were playing outside most of that day. I was talking with my boss and a customer when my boss’ wife came in carrying Dyson. A heavy pipe rack that guarded the gas meter to the store had fallen on him. We could see right away that he wasn’t conscious and he wasn’t breathing. My boss immediately began CPR and I called 911. The ambulance was there within five minutes and Dyson was transported to the ER.

As soon as we were in the hospital, I began to pray. I knew that God would take care of Dyson, but I was scared of how he would do it.

The time in the ER was very uncertain for us. They lost Dyson’s pulse, then got it back. And during all of this, Stephanie was in Breckenridge on a business trip. I finally got in touch with her. Thankfully, a close friend and co-worker, Joyce Bond, was with her on that trip. Joyce is also a Christian, and I praise God she was there. My boss had called our pastor and friend, Tab Ramsey, and he arrived to be with me.

The doctors decided that Dyson should be flown to the Children’s Hospital in Denver. It would be about an hour before the plane arrived. Tab and I sat with Biff, praying that God would not let my faith weaken. I decided to cling to God and he began to reassure me that he was my only option. He let me know that he would bring us through no matter what.

By the time we arrived at the Children’s Hospital, Stephanie and Joyce had arrived from Breckenridge. After treating him in the ER, Biff was taken to the intensive care unit. We decided we wouldn’t accept the thought of Dyson leaving us until the Lord told us differently. We decided to pray for a miracle and put all our faith in God that he would give us one.

For the next five days, we ran the gamut of emotions. This is what I meant by the most heartbreaking yet beautiful time in our lives.

By now, Steph’s parents, her brother, her sisters and their families were there. All of my family was there, and several close friends. There must’ve been about 30 people. God put a wonderful support staff in place for us. He strengthened all of us through each other as we prayed, laughed and cried together. Anyone who was in the hospital couldn’t have denied the presence of God. And that’s just one of miracles we saw that week.

We watched God change people right before our eyes. My mom turned into a whole new person. She’s always been vocal, but she became vocal about God. And she didn’t care who heard her. Steph’s dad became softer than his normal, rigid self. Yet he had rock-like strength. My step-dad, who I wasn’t even sure believed in God, joined us in prayer. I could go on and on.

In those five days, we watched God work right in front of us. We watched as he brought permanent changes to friends and loved ones. It’s great to see even today how they continue to grow in Christ.

I’ve heard it said that it’s when we’re in the darkness that we can learn the most. I believe that to be true. When God is carrying us through darkness, he can teach us the most. In that hospital, we learned one of life’s most important lessons. We learned what it means to submit everything in your life totally and completely to God. When you do, he can change you. And not just for the moment, but permanently.

At the beginning of those five days, Stephanie and I prayed to God for Dyson to get up and walk out of there. We wanted a happy ending and we knew God could provide it. It was a fight to maintain that faith. The enemy hammered us with doubts and fears. We began to fight anger with God. And after three days of no improvement, the doctors told us that, medically, there was no chance of recovery. They added, though, that we shouldn’t give up hope because they had seen greater miracles.

They also said we needed to make a decision on when to pull the life support. The longer the respirator was on, the greater the chance of infection. We knew if we pulled the life support, that would be the moment of truth. Dyson would either breathe on his own and live, or he would die. We told the doctor we’d pray about it and when we felt at peace with a decision we’d let her know.

After that meeting, I got very angry at God. I went in Dyson’s room and pleaded with God to take me instead. But in my heart, I knew he wasn’t going to do that. I completely lost my temper with God and let him have every bit of anger I had in me. I begged him not to take my son from me. I asked him why he wouldn’t answer my prayers. He finally brought me to the point where I realized that the answers were right there in the Bible; I just wasn’t looking for them.

So I got my Bible out and desperately searched for answers. I was trying to figure out what I needed to do to save my son. Up to this point, I thought if enough people prayed hard enough and long enough, we could save Dyson’s life. Then God pointed me to the 23rd Psalm. Then he showed me Psalm 27:14 which says to wait on the Lord. There were other Scriptures, too. I took Psalm 27:14 to heart and decided to do what it says, and wait for the Lord. I would wait for him to work on his own terms and in his own time. The answers began to come almost immediately.

That night, my mom came to stay with Dyson so Stephanie and I could get some much-needed sleep. She brought a book with her about physical healing. The author’s belief was that we should always pray for physical healing because that’s always God’s will. But all of the Scriptures she referenced in the book were about spiritual healing. I so badly wanted to believe this author. There were cases of physical healing in the Scriptures, but God’s ultimate purpose was always spiritual healing. I was confused and frustrated. I went back to my wife and mom to read part of the book to them and figure this out. Steph’s immediate response was, “If God doesn’t want us to suffer or feel physical pain, what about Job?”

There it was, the answer we had so desperately been searching for.

It took us almost two days to read the Book of Job and study it until we understood what God was saying. Job yelled and screamed at God but he never gave up on God. Nor did God ever give up on Job.

We realized that what God was saying to us was, “Look, I’m taking Dyson to heaven. He’s fulfilled his purpose here. If you’ll trust in me, that I know what’s best for you, I’ll carry you through the darkness. I understand that you’re going to be angry with me. I understand that you’ll yell and scream at me and ask why. But I want you to know that I’ll carry you. I love you. You, like Dyson, are my children.”

As we look back on that night in the hospital, when God was comforting us through the Book of Job, we’ve learned of several people who were also seeking God in the same Scriptures on that same night. Steph’s cousin, her brother, a good friend of mine … all were led to the same place in the Bible at the same time.

We prayed and asked God to make the decision about life support. He did, and when he had given us a peace with it, we had them pull the life support. Biff was gone almost immediately. We realized that he was never our child, but God’s child. We’re all God’s children.

As for Steph, Callie and me, we know we’re still here for a purpose. We’ve been given an awesome ministry through Dyson’s life. We want to use it to glorify God. We praise God that Dyson is in heaven. Oh, we have our selfish moments when we think we’d like to have him back, but we know that in the scope of eternity, it’ll be a very short time before we’re in the kingdom with our Father and with Dyson.

    About the Author

  • Brett Rusher