Don’t think you’re going to get through this post quickly. I apologize for its length. It probably won’t even be worth your time either. You’re going to think I’m crazy, and I’m sorry for that as well. There… that was your disclaimer. Bail out now.
It has been a long road. It’s approaching 18 years now; more than half my life. If you haven’t read my story before, or maybe you just need a refresher, please head to my original post and then come back. By the way, I’m breaking my original promise not to write so much again. Yeh, this post is going to be full of apologizes, lol.
Now that you’re back, let’s recap how things have gone since that post.
- Motion in my left knee: virtually zero degrees. (same)
- Motion in my right elbow: virtually zero degrees. (worse)
- Motion in my right ankle: maybe 10 degrees. (worse)
- Motion in my right knee: about 100 degrees; filled with fluid. (worse)
My cane became a permanent fixture from November through June. Why only through June? No, I did not get better. My left elbow got worse. It started showing the same signs I saw when my right elbow started its downward spiral. I decided I had to stop relying so heavily on it or it was going to end up the same way. It seems an inevitable event, but I decided it would be best to get back to equalizing pressure across my body in hopes of slowing the progression.
What do my doctors think? I haven’t been back to them. They seem to have lost my case. In fact, my insurance just received a bill for their services in 2007. It’s as if they completely lost my records. So much for sending my case “around the world.”
I’ve been doing quite a lot of praying. I guess anyone could imagine that would be the case. Everyone at work notices my undiagnosed case of ADD. Sometimes I’m just off in a different world in my mind… praying. Asking God for healing. Asking Him what I should be doing. Asking Him how this is all going to turn out. Asking Him what good this is going to be for His kingdom.
I’ve been reading Scripture pretty heavily. Looking for clues to answer my questions. I know I’ve mentioned it at least once, but there aren’t many things I’ve enjoyed lately more than praying hard for guidance before I open my Bible, and then reading what God has to say to me. This may be hard for you to believe, but it works. Take for instance the day a few weeks ago where I decided I had to finally look into heading up to Mayo, at my family’s advice. I’ve built up quite a distrust of doctors over the years, but it seemed time to admit I was growing impatient with God. I prayed often that day about it. I prayed even harder for an answer prior to opening my Bible that night. I opened to a very small excerpt I hadn’t exactly paid that much attention to before, 2 Chronicles 16: 11-13 (MSG).
11-13 A full account of Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask God for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.
No, this passage does not say we should not go to doctors. It speaks to not placing your sole reliance on doctors. Your trust must first be with God. At least that’s what I grasped after further research. As for my takeaway? As I’ve seen God answer my questions through Scripture so many times, I took the answer to be no trip to Mayo. I have to admit, I was not exactly relieved. Making the trip up there and putting myself in their hands sounded quite good at the time.
But, you see, I believe God has something else in store. I’ve posted a couple times (here and here) about meeting a man named Ferdinand in South Bend last year. Paragraph 2 of the first post very briefly summarizes what he told me. This man speaks with Jesus, and he said I would wake up healed one morning and not believe it. He said I would have to tell everyone. That is a hard thing to say, let alone write. When I type something like that out, all I hear in my head is people scoffing. I’m crazy to believe something like that, right?
My joints have been getting quite worse after I decided to pack old John away several weeks ago (the family named my cane… get it? “John My-Cane” Sorry, lol ;). I had some good days here and there, but its been a struggle to get up and make it to work every morning. At least we’re on “summer hours,” so I have a bit more time to ease out of bed. Two weeks ago, I just couldn’t take it any more. I felt like giving up again. I actually didn’t want to pray and read the Bible for answers any more. It’s hard to trust God all the time.
I read Job again early that week. Ever read it? It’s not a particularly happy book. Sure, Job gets things back in the end, but it appears to be a side-note more than anything. After Job has complained over and over again that he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him, and his friends have continued to advise him that his life must be screwed up and he needs to repent, God finally answers him. What does God say? “Sit down and shut up, you big whiner.” God doesn’t explain to Job that He was allowing the Devil temporary reign over his life for a reason. Job stops complaining. He eventually gets everything back that the Devil took away and more. Why don’t I find that happy? It’s a hard message. “Sit down and shut up, you big whiner.”
So, here I was two weeks ago after re-reading Job and not wanting to get more guidance from God through His Word. My left knee was in so much pain that week, I can only describe it as feeling like the metal implants were detaching from my bones. It was pain as bad as I experienced the weeks leading up to my total knee replacement seven years ago, but this time I had to deal with it without a cane for relief. I decided to write what I thought God’s message was to me on my white board at work. After almost 18 years of pain, what other message could I take away at this point? Here’s 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV).
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Three times Paul pleaded for his thorn to be taken from him. Three times? I’ve already done that before I leave the house every morning. Once when I’m trying to get out of bed, once when I’m trying to reach my left arm with soap in the shower, and once when I’m trying to brush my stupid teeth. Three times. And the answer he got back is he’s got to live with it. The thorn is not going to be taken away from him. God’s grace is sufficient. Oh, how much I need that grace, and how much I owe to God for granting it to me through Jesus. But, it’s still a hard answer to accept.
Why do I find it so hard to accept? There seems to be so many instances in the Bible of people trusting in God and becoming prosperous. I have no trouble understanding how the Prosperity Gospel came to be. “Health and wealth” … promises to all of us. How do I take these messages and then correlate them to what has continued to happen to my body, seemingly accelerating the closer I am in my walk with God? I freely admit being angry with God at times. I freely admit questioning God’s existence at times. It’s difficult to read passages that lead to belief in “health and wealth” and not get thoroughly confused. I’m so screwed up.
The day I added the Scripture related to Paul’s thorn to my white board was a weird one. It was Tuesday June 30; two days before our break for the July 4th holiday weekend. I had to get a good day’s work in so I could make it to a movie that afternoon with friends and hopefully leave early for vacation the next day. After lunch, I suddenly had it in my head that I needed to take the afternoon off and meet T and the kids at a park. I can’t really play with them, but I can hang out and watch them play. Living vicarioiusly through my children. :) I never do this, by the way. I simply never just take an afternoon off to watch my kids play at a park, especially when I’m trying to get my work hours done early and save precious vacation time for the future. I did it anyway.
So here I am an hour or so after getting there, and I have about two minutes before I should head over to see the movie. I get up off a playground bench, and realize I have seen the kids all this time, but T never really showed up. I just assumed she was walking around by the creek at the park enjoying some “alone” time. I found her, well she found me, as I approached my car with two women. It was really time for me to get going, but these two women said they wanted to pray over me. This should not spark an internal debate but it did… I really, really wanted to get to the movie. But, considering my prayers for healing, answers, and simply just some sign from God, it was obviously time to stop and listen.
I wish I could remember their names, but I can’t. They described themselves as Pentecostal/Charismatic. They described things that have happened in their lives, like the day the one gal was immediately healed from alcoholism when touched by a girl at some Catholic healing event (one of my Catholic friends will have to help me understand what that could have been). They described speaking in tongues; one of those Pentecostal things I’ve always found hard to understand (that’s sort of a pun there if you think about it… sorry). They prayed over me for healing in my left knee, which is the most obvious problem I have if you see me for the first time. I didn’t bother describing all my other joint problems.
This was different than when I’ve been prayed over before. They were commanding spirits out, much like you read about in Acts. It was intense. I felt embarrassed… this was in the middle of the parking lot at a big park in the middle of town. Yes, there were people all around that had to be wondering what us fools were doing. By the way, my cell phone was periodically going off in my pocket… my friends wondered why I wasn’t at the movie yet. How in the world could I explain this when I finally showed up?
When they started praying for my knee, it started feeling very warm. Other people have described this sensation before when they were healed. I’ve felt it before, praying over a relic once for healing. I never told anyone about that (other than T). As I was praying, my entire body started becoming intensely warm, but I quickly chose not to believe it. It was pure insanity. The feeling washed away immediately. I still regret what happened that day due to my lack of faith. Matthew 17:20 (NIV) provides a hard message there.
20He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Another thing happened while they were praying over me. Some Scripture popped into the one gal’s head. She said she needed to share it with me, as it must mean something special. Luke 10:19 (NIV):
19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
She said she has to remember that verse at times. In fact, she described using it before to make the pain wash away from her ears. I shared with her how weird that was, considering I just wrote out the verse regarding Paul’s thorn on my white board that morning. She said God had given her authority over her pain, and that I needed to do the same. After several hugs, we went our separate ways. God bless those two in their ministry.
I left the family and headed over to the movie. When I got out of my car, the pain in my left knee was gone. It was the pain I prayed most intensely for relief from due to the previous couple weeks. Though I can’t literally drop to my knees and ever get back up again, I was “on my knees” the night before to have it taken away.
I’ve been praying for a long time for signs from God. The Bible describes many instances of people receiving signs from God. What bigger sign did I need from God than this? It was time to take authority over my pain, and stop simply living with it. I also needed to tell people, but couldn’t tell my friends at the movie. They would find me crazy. In fact, I only told one person the next morning. He’s a good friend. He knows who he is. What I didn’t tell him at the time was that as I told him, I felt the same warmth again in my knee… as if I had to keep telling everyone. I was going to write this blog post that night, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I can’t write something like this for people to read without becoming insanely embarrassed. I sound so completely crazy.
The next day I was at home by myself to work on a computer program for our school. The family went camping for the entire weekend. I woke up with intense pain in my jaw of all places. I could hardly open my mouth to eat, let alone put pressure on my jaw to chew. How in the world can I lose one pain and receive another? I’ve actually been worried about my jaw for some time. The left side actually won’t open straight until it’s part way open, and then will sort of “jump” with a snapping sound. I’ve been meaning to have it looked at, but I’ve been scared. I don’t want to find out more joints are being affected.
I called T later that evening to find out how things were going and described the jaw pain to her. She asked me if I commanded the Devil out of my jaw yet. I asked her what in the world she was talking about. She reminded me what the gal said about Luke 10:19 two days ago. Apparently, she had meant that type of authority, while I thought it just meant taking control over the pain mentally. There I go again thinking I can do things myself.
That night, before going to bed, I spent some time praying intensely for God to grant me strength to command the Devil out of my jaw. Have you ever heard the thing people say about Ethics? Don’t do it if you would be embarrassed to have others reading it on the front page of your newspaper. That thought goes through my head a lot with this. Sure, I’m completely alone so nobody will see me doing this crazy thing, but still. Thoughts of Acts 19:13-16 (NIV) came to mind.
13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
That passage scared the crap out of me. How can I possibly hope to get by any better? Now you can imagine how intensely I was praying for guidance before attempting this. I tried to simply get out of the way and let God do the work. When it was over, I just stood there shaking. Hoping nobody saw me. Hoping I would never have to describe what I did to anyone. How can anyone believe in such a thing?
I woke up the next morning with all jaw pain gone. Not only that, but the problem I’ve had with my jaw movement was gone as well. It opens perfectly straight now. I remembered back to what Ferdinand told me. I would wake up in the morning healed and have to tell everyone. I called T and told her what happened. I didn’t tell anyone else. I didn’t blog about it yet. I didn’t think I could look anyone in the eye again after I told them what happened.
The pain in my right knee became very intense as that day went on. I could hardly put any pressure on it. Every time I tried to bend or straighten it, it felt like the ligaments were twisting and tearing. That knee, while full of fluid and generally painful, never had so much pain in it. I visited my grandma’s house that day to hang out with the Wessel clan. Could I tell anyone there what happened that week? I couldn’t. My grandma hugged me on the way out the door reminding me she’s still praying for me after all these years. I should have told her, but I couldn’t.
I don’t really remember how the topic came up, but I was chatting with Dad before getting into my car to head back home and I told him. I don’t think there’s anyone in my life harder to talk to about something like this than my Dad. I have the utmost respect for him, and want nothing less than to embarrass him with some crazy ideas in my head. He knows much of the story up to this point, and he says he has since told others for me. Something I was struggling to do myself. Thank you, Dad. Love you.
Before I went to bed that night, I tried on my right knee what I did the night before with my jaw. I was so freaked out. This still made little sense to me, but I went with it. I don’t want to describe the entire experience because it’s still so crazy. Instead, I’ll stick with this… when I woke up in the morning, the intense pain in my right knee was gone. I was immediately reminded of the judge in the Old Testament who wouldn’t accept just a single sign from God. Once was never enough. Here’s Judges 6:36-40 (MSG).
36-37 Gideon said to God, “If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you’ve said, then look: I’m placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.”
38 That’s what happened. When he got up early the next morning, he wrung out the fleece—enough dew to fill a bowl with water!
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be impatient with me, but let me say one more thing. I want to try another time with the fleece. But this time let the fleece stay dry, while the dew drenches the ground.”
40 God made it happen that very night. Only the fleece was dry while the ground was wet with dew.
Once was not enough for me either. I finally decided it was time to shoot for everything that night. I got a big head, though. I felt God had given me… ME… power over the Devil’s stranglehold on my body. Oh, how wrong I was. It was God’s power doing everything. I got in the way that night. I realize that now. I think I realized it that night, but the difference between knowing something and fixing the problem can be so huge.
The next morning I woke up with severe pain in my neck. I couldn’t look to my left at all without moving my entire body. I’ve had neck pain before, but nothing like this. I decided I had gotten in the way that night. This was a sure sign I screwed up, not allowing God to perform all the work. I tried it all again on my neck that morning. I couldn’t stand waiting all day for relief of the pain. That evening, the pain was suddenly gone. It hasn’t come back. That was a week ago today.
I described all these events to T when she got home that night. We had a long, hard talk about all of this. She expected to find me completely healed when she got back, and I guess I had expected the same. I can only imagine what was going through her head when she saw me still walking about as badly as I have for the past several years. You wouldn’t know anything happened. I tried to reassure her that God has a plan through all this. I tried to explain I’m understanding “faith like a child” a bit more every day. That if God is truly out there, and you truly believe in Him, then how can you not believe He has a plan and things are going to work out according to His will? “Sit down and shut up, you big whiner.”
I meant to finally blog about this story that night, but I didn’t. I meant to tell someone else at work Monday morning, but I didn’t. Everything was still so hard to believe. I kept hearing Ferdinand’s voice in my head all week long… that I needed to tell everyone what God had done. I woke up Monday still appearing to be as crippled as always. A turtle would have given me a good run for my money. Maybe even a snail. There is no way anyone would believe a word I said… so I didn’t… all week. I couldn’t even bring up the courage to update my friend at work on the latest in the saga.
Saw my parents last night at a baseball game, and I should have taken time to update them, but didn’t. The week was still full of body pain. None of the pain associated with those joints I mentioned above came back, praise God, but I started to doubt everything. For the most part, I felt like I was at the same point I was going into the events at the city park. Woe is me. Here I am back where I started. Who cares what happened in the middle there? I couldn’t even sit down to watch the game without pain. My left leg sticks down the aisle and up in the air when in ballpark seats. I can’t even get rest for it without slouching so far down in my chair that I develop some fun neck and back pain by the time the night is over. Last night was no exception. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself by the time we went our separate ways.
On the way out to the car, with only half a block left to our parking spot, my right ankle exploded with pain. I thought I tore my Achilles tendon. It would have put me on the ground if I had any belief I could get back up. I had to stand there waiting for T to drive the car over to me. Every step I took was intense shooting pain, and I had to take several to get from the sidewalk to the curb. A normal person could hop somewhere on their other leg to keep the pain minimal. I can’t rely on my left leg for anything like that. Getting into the car was an event that can only be described by witnessing it. I actually can’t believe I made it in, and then back out and into the house when we got home.
Even with this, I still felt strongly as ever that I needed to blog about my story as soon as possible. Here I was in severe pain, virtually unable to walk anymore. Both T and I started worrying about the costs of converting our house for wheelchair access. We were bracing ourselves for the inevitable. I made it down to the computer, but ended up working on the school software until 2:30am. Once again, I was too scared to tell others. How could anyone believe me, especially if they heard the punchline events from last night? I prayed for healing, but my heart just wasn’t in it. As many things as happened to me over the past two weeks, deep down I didn’t know what to believe anymore.
T and the kids are out of the house playing at a State park today. I couldn’t go. When I attempted to get out of bed this morning, my first step was with the same pain as last night. I knew it was time to finally hit the doctors again. No way could I make it anymore without something… anything… being done. I’ve joked before about simply chopping off my legs so at least the pain would be gone. They seem to make some amazing prostheses for war veterans these days. Even so, I was determined to make it downstairs to blog my story before I really stopped believing any of it.
I hit the bathroom when I got downstairs to brush my teeth, when I suddenly felt overwhelmed. You see, I’ve been brushing my teeth with my left arm for a few years now, and I’m still really horrible at it. Now I could hardly even stand in front of the sink to brush. I could only rely on pressure on my left leg, which I’ve already mentioned is pretty worthless. I couldn’t take it anymore and completely broke down.
But, I wasn’t angry with God. I thought I was angry with Him, but I was angry at the Devil’s hold on my body. I started screaming at him to get away. To get out of my ankle and never come back. In the Name of God, to get out because God is going to heal me. I was crying as hard as ever, and more angry than I have been in my life. I stood there for a couple minutes just shaking.
When I finally got up the strength to head over to the computer, and took my first step… the ankle pain was gone.
I mentioned at the top that you probably wouldn’t believe what I’m writing today. I’m sorry for that, and I’m really sorry for anyone’s time that I wasted with this. I will say this last thing: it’s going to be even harder to believe this story next time you see me walking around, still looking quite crippled. It’s hard for me to believe myself, but I do. Ferdinand said I’m going to wake up one morning healed, I’m not going to believe it, but I’m going to have to tell everyone.
You see, God’s not finished with me yet. And there I go crying again. ;)
Share on Facebook