Category Archives: Health

Searching for a meaning

meaningIt’s midnight.  I’m tired and still in some of the most pain yet.  And, I was hoping to understand the purpose of today by now, but I guess it remains to be seen.  So, I’ll spend some time jotting my thoughts down in this corner of the blogosphere and head to bed.  Perhaps it will make sense tomorrow.

 

Earlier last week, I had a feeling I couldn’t shake.  I needed to head into work sometime this week.  Sure, I hadn’t made it into the office since before Thanksgiving, so I probably needed to make the effort anyway.  However, pain levels just don’t want to decrease.  Winter conditions simply want to turn for the worse.  For a person highly unstable on their legs, that’s a bad combination.  What a silly idea to head into work at this time of year.

 

Fast forward to Tuesday and the feeling simply became too intense.  I felt compelled to go to work today.  It was hard to understand, and I can’t do much justice explaining the compulsion.  It’s really not like me to have such desire to get to the office.  (At least some of you know that about me. ;)  When I finally made it to bed last night I still couldn’t shake it.  T was going to think I was nuts.  I prayed about it along with everything else and finally couldn’t help but ask God for confirmation.  I think I’ve used this analogy before, but it still holds well… I was reminded of Gideon.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

Judges 6:36-40 (ESV)

Probably too boldly, I told God that He was going to have to let me know I should make it in.  Somehow He was going to have to get me up and make sure I couldn’t simply go back to bed for a couple more hours as the family prepared to leave the house.  This was especially important, as it was already 1:30am by the time I was praying this.

 

What did I expect?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  What happened?  I got a “tap.”  Someone tapped my back in the morning and I woke up.  I looked up at the clock and it was pretty much time for the family to get ready.  In fact, it was 10 minutes earlier than I used to get up back when I somewhat regularly made it to the office.  God knows I need 10 extra minutes these days to get ready.  I looked behind me and there was nobody there.  There was no pet around the area (and it’s not like we lack any here in our pet sanctuary).  I still can’t believe how awake I was, either.  There was no option to go back to sleep.

 

God woke me up.

 

He was even merciful enough to tap me in the back, one of the only areas that wasn’t hurting this past week.  And, boy did I hurt.  There was no relief of pain; in fact it was the worst yet this week.

 

Why does it have to keep getting worse, anyway?  Do I really need that much more practice with James’ “trials”?

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

James 1:2-3 (ESV)

I guess I do.  I was excited that God made the effort to wake me up, but I was still lamenting the pain I was about to endure.  Sometimes I wonder what future trial I’m preparing for that I require this much testing.  I don’t know what test comes after our health; that’s where it ended with Job.

3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Job 2:3-6 (ESV)

I know I’m a selfish creature, so I can’t think of what test lies beyond that.  Honestly, I’m afraid to find out.  (And now I’m rambling, but what do you expect from me? ;)

 

So, God had some reason for me to go in today.  Maybe someone needed to see me.  Maybe someone needed to hear from me.  Maybe the house was going to burn down in flames and I simply needed to get away and into town.  I had no idea, and could speculate until I was blue in the face, but ultimately I had no choice but to brave all the pain, get ready, and make the trek in with the family.

 

Isn’t it easy to forget how great our friends are when we don’t see them for weeks?  I’ve been graced with so many at work.  I can’t really think of them as fellow employees.  They mean much more than that.  I had some great conversations, a great lunch out, even something as simple as a friendly handshake in the hallway, and it was just plain good to see their faces again.

 

Did I fulfill my role today?  Did that person who needed something find it?  I don’t know.  Did God accomplish what He set out to do with me today?  Perhaps it was really just to show me something… to show me how much joy I can have at the end of a day when I follow His promptings; when I listen to His will and simply hang on for the ride, regardless of my body telling me it’s a silly idea.  Even if there was some profound reason for this day, I can claim no credit, as Jesus pointed out years ago in Luke.

10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”

Luke 17:10 (ESV)

I pray that we all listen for those promptings from God (what Bill Hybels calls “whispers,” if you will) and obey; and that we remember it’s not our work, but His.

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If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed

mustard_seed

20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 17:20)

Ever wonder about the mustard seed?  I must admit the topic comes up at home quite often.  Looking at this pic I found online today, those seeds sure look small.  Do we still lack that much faith?

 

It’s been some time since I provided an update on my health.  For anyone new here, you can find old “updates” at the following posts, or at any time by clicking on the “Health” category on the right side of the page (they are listed in reverse order).  If you want, you can check those out to get more details than what I summarize below.

In that first post, I concluded with the following:

When you are done praying for all the people out there dying of something, and you happen to think of it, please say a quick word for me.

Well, I must humbly say that I could use more than a quick word.  It’s hard to admit this, but I’m having a pretty rough go at things and need help.  I pray continually for this condition I have to go away, and I know many of you do as well. 

He hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29b)

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)

I could really use more prayers from the righteous.  I’m sitting here working from home today for about the seventh time in eleven days?  (I’m taking a break right now, of course ;)  I know it sounds silly, but I really wanted to make it in to work today.  It’s reassuring to spend time with people I work with, as I’m blessed being around so many believers.  You are such a great group of folks.  I can’t tell you how much your presence helps me get through each day.

 

So I tried to make it in, and it only took a few steps to realize my ankle wasn’t going to let me go anywhere yet again.  The rest of my pain is dull, but that thing is on fire today.  It took ten minutes to finally get downstairs to my computer, and I really am not looking forward to the next time I have to move.

 

So, that tiny little mustard seed of faith… is that what I’m lacking?  Could be.  Doesn’t seem right, though.  I probably lack the authority, which is more likely what Jesus was really talking about in that passage.  I’m continually reminded that Paul didn’t have his thorn taken away.

7 To 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Reading that again for the 90th time, “three times” still sounds crazy to me.  I’m long past three requests, and I can’t help but keep asking even though “My grace is sufficient for you” may really be God’s final answer with this.

 

You see, the diagnosis of my condition doesn’t sound all that fun.  I don’t remember really detailing out before what my doc’s last told me, and many of you have asked, so here’s more.  They gave my condition a name, but I forget it.  Basically, they have seen this in hips before, where they’ll nick a hip during surgery and the bone essentially “flowers” out of control around the nick.  But, this particular doctor has never seen it in knees, or anywhere else, and especially not to this extent.  It started first in my knee with no real apparent trauma (other than some minor injuries as a child).  When the bone completely locked my left knee in place eight years ago, I had a total knee replacement, and they did what they could to clean out all that extra junk in there.  It was only a few years before it was completely locked again.  The bone grew right around the metal implant.  It’s amazing stuff.  But it’s worse.  That has now been happening in several other joints.  My right elbow is completely locked, but at least I don’t have to use it for support.  My left elbow is OK so far.  My right ankle is virtually locked, and it’s the one taking a turn with severe pain today.  My right knee is completely full with fluid, as the same thing is happening to it.  I’m already losing motion as I get to watch it go through the same exact process as the left knee started down 19 years ago.

 

So what can doctors do about it?  First off, they can prescribe pain medication.  High-powered arthritis medication that will destroy my liver, that is.  I’ll take the pain, thank you very much.  Secondly, they can perform more surgery.  One form of the surgery is cleaning things out.  Last time we did that on the left knee, it appeared to accelerate the “flowering” bone dramatically.  Another form is total replacement of a joint.  I already mentioned how that went.  The final form is replacing a joint and/or cleaning out the joint AND bombarding it with radiation to attempt to kill the surrounding bone so it can’t “grow back”.  I’m not ready to sign up for that yet.  But it seems inevitable at the rate things are progressing.  My body certainly isn’t getting any younger.

 

Could I get more opinions?  Definitely, but I haven’t done that yet.  These guys seem pretty smart.  From the standpoint of an engineer, what they say makes a lot of sense.  Their diagnosis sounds right.  Could I go try acupuncture for pain?  Sure.  Could I try some changes in my diet?  Absolutely.  (I could use that change for many reasons… I’m not getting any lighter either. ;)  But above and behind it all is God.  I must place my trust in God.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:6-7)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

(Romans 8:28)

God is sovereign.  He has a plan with this, but I just don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s this blog post.  Maybe someone needed to read something in here.  And I’m sure I needed to open up just a bit more, with an honest-to-goodness, humble request for all those righteous He has surrounded me with for some directed prayer for healing, for guidance, for whatever it is God has in store for me to be made shown.

 

By the way, when I was at a really low point the other day wondering what new doctor I should head to next, I came across this passage.

14 And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.” 15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made. 17 Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. 18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, 19 creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD, “and I will heal him.

(Isaiah 57:14-19)

“He went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.”  Boy, does that strike home.  I’ve said many times before to T that I hope she doesn’t resent me when we find out together in the afterlife that this was all punishment for whatever sins I couldn’t stop committing.  Yet, by God’s grace, look what he says next.  “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him.”  Interesting that God led my hands to randomly open to that passage a few days ago, when I was hitting rock bottom again.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

(Romans 8:12-17)

Please pray that I quit backsliding.  And please pray that God will heal me from this suffering.  But, most of all, pray that God’s will be done.  This has been a humbling experience.  I thank you in advance for your prayers.  And please let me know what I can pray for on your behalf.

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Time for another lesson

slow_learner

I’m such a slow learner.  Every time I think I’ve “finally got it,” God demonstrates to me that I still have more to learn.  What a silly thought to think I’ve finally got it, but I seem to come to that conclusion every few weeks before being broad-sided by something else I realize I’ve had wrong all this time.

 

I’ve been having a heck of a time sleeping for the past several months.  I simply can’t make it through the night anymore without waking up in pain and tossing and turning, hoping to finally get back to sleep again.  Not just once in the middle of the night, but most nights it’s an hourly thing.  I try to stay up until 1am most nights, not because I want to stay up for fun, but because I want to spend as little time in bed as possible.  I’ve become completely exhausted.  I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen until I was in my 60s or something and my bladder started being a problem.  So much for that hope. ;)

 

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I woke up from a dream and immediately realized God had something to tell me through it.  I won’t go into the details of the dream itself (partially because I forget several of them), but the important thing was it had to do with God’s sovereignty.  Night time has become such a chore to get through with my disease (or whatever you want to call it) lately that I was having another bout of not being able to deal with it.  I wasn’t passing it on to God and relying on His help to make it through.  I also felt like I needed to put it back in the hands of doctors again, even though I could tell the Spirit wasn’t leading me there.  As with another dream I’ve mentioned before, I awoke with such a start that I knew God had another lesson for me.  So, I sat there pondering the dream, trying to understand each thing He wanted to teach me.

 

Just when I thought I had decomposed the dream and had it all together, and that I understood His message of sovereignty, it hit me.  No, it wasn’t another idea.  It was severe stomach cramps.  I thought “argh, come on God… does it seriously have to be any harder to sleep?!”  I started right into a pity party, wondering if I would ever make it out of my bed fast enough (it’s a couple minute ordeal these days).  And then I wondered how much more sleep I would lose throughout the night, etc., but before I knew, it hit me.  No, not worse stomach cramps.  It was an idea.  A different realization.  “God, you just gave me that stomach flu, didn’t you.  You aren’t sovereign over just the big things.  You’re sovereign over the small things as well.”

 

So I simply sat there and remained calm as the pain continued, recalling a simple passage from Proverbs.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

(Proverbs 16:33)

Every decision?  Really?  Isn’t that something hard to wrap your head around?  Obviously it was causing me some problems understanding, or maybe God wouldn’t have had to take such an interesting approach with me.  You see, I pondered that verse (and some others I could think of at the time), and realized I hadn’t quite heard the full message He had for me.  I concluded God really had to be sovereign over everything, or He wouldn’t be infinite, would he?  I understood right then and there that God had full control over my condition and had a reason for it.  So what else could I do but admit His complete sovereignty over things big and small, acknowledge His message was received and say to Him “thank you for this stomach flu and the lesson, and by the way, could you please take it right away as quick as you gave it to me?”

 

And wouldn’t you know it, it was simply gone and I slept like a baby until morning.  And here it’s taken me a couple weeks to get around to writing this.  Perhaps he wanted me to hold this message around in my head until you needed to read it.  Are you ready to admit God is sovereign over everything?  What does it mean in your life once you realize that’s true?  He certainly has pointed it out several times in Scripture.  I’ll share just a couple of my favorites before I close.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

(Matthew 6:24-34)

Once we understand God’s sovereignty, and work hard not to forget it, how can we worry about anything?  How can we worry about what’s happening in the world around us?  We can certainly see things are wrong in the world, and want to know what we can do about it, and take actions as we’re able, but we can relax more when we realize God’s plans, regardless of what Satan or humans do against Him, will be accomplished.  We can rest in that.

12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

(2 Chronicles 33:12-13)

Read those last few words again.  “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.”  Before the other night, did I really know “that the LORD was God”?  I sure thought I did, but I guess it took yet another lesson to point out that maybe I didn’t have the complete picture.

 

And, I learned something else.  This disease I have?  There’s a reason it’s still with me.  There’s a reason doctors haven’t been able to cure it and make it worse every time they mess around with me.  I don’t know what that reason is, but it’s under God’s control.  He’ll let us all know why when the time comes.  And, if it’s His will, He’ll cure it just as easily as He gave me stomach flu and took it right away the other night.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

(Romans 8:28)

Yes, Father, I “know” it now.  Errrr… at least I think I do, until the next lesson You have for me. :)

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Time for another update…

amazing_grace

For those of you regular readers still out there, or perhaps those who used to be regular readers and happen to be checking back in, I have to apologize for taking such a long break from blogging.  It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to blog about… I still maintain a running list of future topics… it’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to craft my 100th post.  Yes, it took me well over a year to break that barrier.  And, yes Jake, I remember it only took you about four months. ;)

 

Just to get things out of the way here in my first post “back,” I figure it’s time to give another “body” update.  My joints are not moving any better than my previous post.  However, they are not moving any worse.  There are also no new problems in any other joints.  In fact, I believe God has healed me of the condition making things worse.  I can’t easily explain exactly why I believe that, but I have my reasons.  It’s the only way I can explain several things that have occurred since the day of that post.  Praise God with me!

 

I have more to discuss here, though.  I want you to read this and not feel pity for me, not feel sorry for me, etc., but to praise God.  Bear with me. 

 

The pain has been escalating again this past week.  It’s almost unbearable.  Every time I sit down for a few minutes, I can hardly get back up again.  It took every last bit of willpower in me to get out of bed and make it to work the past two days.  Yesterday, I almost fell twice in the parking lot getting out of and around my car.  Stepping in and breaking through one inch of slush was enough to cause me to stumble.  It’s pretty funny thinking back about it now, but my goodness was it painful.  Every step I take feels like the bones in one foot want to split apart, while the other ankle can take almost no pressure at all.  Every step I take seems to be tearing the metal knee replacement from my bones.  If I look worse than normal for wear this week, it’s because I am.  The pain will not stop, no matter how much Advil I take.

 

So why should we be praising God?  He’s got a message for me.  He’s got a message for you.  I don’t know what He wants to tell you, but maybe you do.  Here’s what I understand the message is for me, and maybe it’s yours as well.

 

Stop waiting for the miracle.  It’s not going to work out how you think it will.

 

You see, I’ve been waiting for this miracle full-healing that Ferdinand said would happen.  I’ve been waiting for it before “moving on” with life and witnessing to others.  I’ve been waiting until I had the perfect story through which I could convince people of the existence of God, the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  How could anyone ever disbelieve any of that once I was completely healed of this bodily condition I’ve been dealt?

 

I’ve been studying the Gospel of John for the past few months.  What a great deal of treasure you can find if you dig around in there.  With the help of a coworker’s past studies online, I finally realized something.  Miracles will not convince anyone.  I never really realized that before.  They won’t.  If you have been waiting to see this miracle before deciding to accept Jesus, you’re wasting your time.  It’s not going to help you.  Only the Holy Spirit working in you can make that happen.  If this strikes a chord, He’s already working on you.  Stop resisting and listen.

 

Don’t believe that a miracle won’t convince you of anything?  Spend some time studying John 6.  Probably most of you are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding 5000 with only two fish and five loaves of bread.  That’s a seriously huge miracle.  But have you paid much attention to what came next?  Two things happened.

 

First, the disciples soon headed out across the sea and came across a nasty storm.  They couldn’t make any headway, and eventually Jesus walked across the water to meet them.  They were afraid.  They had just witnessed an amazing miracle at the hands of Jesus, and yet here they were afraid just hours later.  The miracle was not enough to convince them.  You can read it even more clearly in the Gospel of Mark.

And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased.  Any they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:51-52, ESV)

Their hearts were hardened.  The Spirit was not yet working on them to believe.  The miracle was not enough.

 

You can see the second event in John 6 as well.  Just the next day, the crowd who had already witnessed the miracle feeding of the 5000 was not convinced either.  They just wanted more food.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:25-26, ESV)

Not enough for you?  Read a bit further.

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?  What work do you perform?  Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (John 6:30-31, ESV)

They just witnessed a tremendous sign the day before.  And yet they ask for more convincing.

 

If next time you see me, you see me running and jumping around… or maybe you simply see me walking straight upright, with no grimace or hint of pain on my face… would you believe?  A miracle alone will not do it.  So stop waiting for one.  Listen to the Spirit.  I’ll try to do the same.

 

Oh, and I’ll get back to posting more often again whether you enjoy them or not. :P

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My body… an update

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. 

 

Completely 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. ;)

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