We fear death. We fear different things in life. As a kid, I feared everything. When I was sixteen years old my dad was the assistant pastor of a church. On our way to church, we were hit by another vehicle in an almost head-on collision. My father died five feet away from me. I was in the back seat and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. I took a ninety mile per hour shot in the face. We were riding in a station wagon which had a bench seat. The steel frame in the seat stopped my body. I had to have dental work. I had a cracked bone in one leg, soft tissue damage in my arm, and lacerations everywhere. I was not expected to live.
When I was a kid, growing up in Maine, I was rushed to the hospital one night for emergency surgery. They thought I had a strangulated cord in my abdomen. As my dad was taking me out the door he looked back at my mom and said, “Get on the prayer chain and call people” which she did. The way the prayer chain worked at our church was that when one person received a call then that person would call others in the church. It would spread like wildfire. I went into emergency surgery, and when they opened me up they found nothing wrong with me.
Shortly after my father died my brother died. It was almost like when my father died the floodgates [of death] flew open. It wasn’t always family members. It was friends. There was a time when people were just dropping. I actually had a friend who referred to me as the Dark Angel of Death. He was joking, but the power of the tongue is real (Proverbs 18:21). When you’re given that moniker, when it becomes that obvious to people around you, when someone speaks something like that over you, it’s not a game. There was a spirit of death that surrounded my family.
My dad was a retired Army officer. He fought and was wounded in World War II. He had three older brothers. All of them served in the military in World War II. Two were on Iwo Jima. My mom had two brothers. One was a Commander in the Navy. The other was a chopper pilot in The Vietnam War. My dad’s father was also Military and played some role in the *Manhattan Project. Several years ago I felt like there was a word the Lord spoke to me, and that word was Warrior. He called me to be a warrior. I’m a musician; have been for many years. There is a lot of warfare when it comes to music. Worship is warfare.
In 2006 I went to a doctor and discovered that in the auto accident twenty-six years before my jaw had been broken. During that twenty-six year period that broken bone had deteriorated and disappeared. My body’s attempt to repair itself resulted in all the existing ligaments and tendons reattaching to what little bone remained in my face, forming another joint in a different location. According to my doctor, that’s not possible. He said, “I don’t know how to treat this because there’s not another recorded case study in medical history for this condition.” What God showed me was that he loves me so much that he is willing to suspend the laws of physics and physiology for me. I can’t begin to tell you the peace I experienced at that point, and the fear that left, as the spirit of fear was broken off me.
In 2012 I suffered a heart attack. I called my wife and said, “Hey, I’m on my way to the hospital.” She said, “What’s wrong?” I said; “I think I’m having a heart attack.” She answered, “And you’re driving?” I was, like, “Well, yeah.” Sure enough, I had a heart attack, but while I was on my way to the hospital all the other stuff came to mind; all the years of God’s protection. I remember thinking, “God, I refuse to believe that you’ve brought me as far as you’ve brought me to let it end here. I’m not done, and I refuse to believe this is it for me.”
About a month later I started working out and got back in good physical shape. The doctor calls and says, “Mr. Harding, you need to get back to the hospital because you have acute appendicitis. Your appendix may have already ruptured.” I hung up the phone, sat in my car, and literally almost started laughing because I was, like, “You know what? I’m still not done! I’m still not going anywhere. I’m going back to the hospital. They’re going to fix this thing, and I’m going back to live.” That was the point where I changed from being the little kid who was scared of everything to being the guy who realizes my days are numbered by God, and he’s in control.
*Research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II