Michael Moore began his chapel message saying, “My name is not Lazarus, but I am back from the dead, and I want to tell you about it.”
He recently spoke to the employees of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in their weekly chapel.
He is a well-known pastor, director of missions and Baptist statesman. Moore has served churches in the state since 1971 including First Baptist Mooresville, Friendly Avenue Baptist in Greensboro and Hocutt Baptist in Clayton. He retired as the director of missions for the Robeson Baptist Association.
His story is unusual in one sense, but not unusual for those who know the sovereign power of God to act as He pleases.
Reading from Ephesians 3:20-21, Moore shared his miraculous 10-year story of physical pain and uncertainty. The passage says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
“Now unto Him who is able to do … I like that word ‘do’ I have circled it in red in my Bible,” he said. “Our God is not a ‘sit around and talk about it’ God. … our God is a God of doing. His ability outruns our disability. His ability to answer outstrips our ability to ask.”
He told the Baptist staff, “This is not about me. It’s about the glory of God. It’s about the providential healing power of God, lost somewhere in His mystery of why He heals some and does not heal others.”
Ten years ago Moore was living in terrible pain, he had been to three doctors and ended up in a wheel chair.
He visited several cemeteries as he considered his burial place.
The tombstones of many children caught his attention. “My heart was filled with sorrow and joy and questions,” he said. “I wrote down the names and dates on some of those tombstones.”
One of the children only lived one day; another lived one month; one only lived six months.
“I fell to my knees and asked, ‘Lord, why did these die and I lived? … Have I fulfilled the purpose for which you have made me? Why did I live and not these children?’ That question still pounds in my head, lost in the mystery of the sovereignty of God. I still don’t know, but I might know.”
A few weeks later his mystery illness was diagnosed as multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow. Moore asked the doctor, “How long before I get better?” The answer was, “If everything goes well, about a year.”
In the spring of 2005 he began a chemotherapy regimen and grew strong enough to have a bone marrow transplant. He responded well to the treatments and for several years was preaching in churches and carrying on his ministry.
Moore said, “Then a few years ago I started back on chemo. I took one kind of chemo and that would fail; then another that would fail; then the latest drug would come out, and I would take that.
“The whole time I was serving churches and preaching around. … God gave me strength; it’s not easy to do but it’s doable. You don’t whine, you just go on and live life.”
On the first day of January this year, he conducted the funeral of a special friend in Lumberton. Moore came home with pneumonia. In a few days, an ambulance carried him to the hospital. “They took me straight to the critical care unit. I began to go downhill very quickly. I got into deep, deep medical trouble,” he said.
Emphasizing the seriousness of his situation, Moore identified five medical testimonies, He said, “One physician can be wrong, but it is hard for five to be wrong when they all agree.”
The oncologist came to his bed and said, “Mr. Moore, you’re going to die in about 10 days. I can’t do another thing for you.”
His family physician, who is a believer and a Bible teacher, told his wife, “Judy, I can’t do a thing for him. There is no medicine we can give him. Mike’s going to die.”
The critical care nurse told his wife, “Mrs. Moore, you need to make other arrangements. One of our staff will hook you up with hospice. He needs to go home, and he’ll be dead in a few days.”
He said in a few days the hospice nurse told his wife, “Mike will likely die today. He’ll be dead in two or three hours.”
Judy Moore called the doctor at Duke Hospital who cared for her husband through the transplants.
The doctor said, “If you can get him to Duke, maybe I can do something for him, but he may not survive the trip.” They did not go.
Lynn Bullock, his pastor in Lumberton, visited Moore at his house. He said from his experience as a pastor, he was sure Moore was going to die that day.
Moore described something he experienced in what was sure to be his final days of life. It was “… a diffused, bright light. … I concluded I was moving toward it. … until it filled my entire vision. I have never had a more contented, sweeter, more loved feeling in all of my life.
“I want you to know that I did not see the face of Jesus. I did not see mom and daddy. I did not see streets of gold,” he said.
“I’m not sure exactly what was happening in that period of time, but I know this. I know that strong intercessory prayer was made on my behalf.” Hundreds were praying for him.
His wife and children went to a funeral home to make arrangements and select a casket. When she returned, she said, “Why pray for comfort in dying? Let’s pray for Mike to live.”
People prayed and “God has let me live and preach again, and I’ve come here to say ‘Thank you,’” he said.
He’s been through rehabilitation to learn how to feed himself and use his hands and legs again. He has had no chemo since December and the cancer is getting weaker. Today he is driving to preaching engagements.
His oncologist was astonished. His doctor at the beach called it a miracle. “I have no idea why God let me live,” Moore said. “My doctor said, ‘Mike, it might be for some big thing, but I don’t think so. It probably is for some small thing. And you may never even know.’ I think that’s it!”
Moore said he knows he will die. “Even Lazarus died again – we’re all going to die. But I’m not in a hurry. I’ll go to heaven soon enough.”
“All glory belongs to God,” he said. “This kind of thing just makes us stronger disciples. We don’t know the outcome, but I hope my story encourages someone, especially those who are perplexed.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Moore currently serves on the board of directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. His wife, Judy, is a cancer survivor.)