God is Real–Part Five

How do I know God is real?  It simple: I’ve experienced Him in amazing ways.  Today’s example is pretty zany and funny.  I was in the Dominican Republic with my friend, Mindy, to introduce her to her sponsored child (I had already met him on a previous trip, and Mindy had become his sponsor).  We were headed to the Haitian border the next day but on this particular day we were returning from a trip by van into the country.  During a rest stop I went to get back on the bus, not knowing that they were hosing it down on the opposite side.  With a great whoosh! all the mud, grease and grime came flying up from under the van and splattered all over my khaki pants.  They were blackened from the grease and mud.

In the morning, after my shower, I said to Mindy, “I’m going to wear the same pants that got splattered yesterday, because I’ll just get them dirty again today,” and put them on.  She said, “Those aren’t the same pants; they’re perfectly clean.”  I looked down and she was right.  She didn’t believe they were the same pants, and we argued while I let her look through my luggage because I didn’t have any other khakis.  But they were now spotless.  She exclaimed, “Jesus did the laundry while we were sleeping!”  Now, I know that seems ridiculous, but think about it:  as we discussed, we were heading to child development centers to visit precious Compassion kids near the Haitian border.  Perhaps it was important that we appear clean and spotless, representing our Lord, and also give honor to the children, by giving them our best.  That was the only reason we could think of for the little “miracle” that day.  Our God is real!  But the next story is going to be amazing–watch for it on Friday!

For previous posts in my “God is Real” series, click below:

God is Real–Part One (a baby that nearly didn’t make it to birth)

God is Real–Part Two (a specific healing, and one that was not a healing)

God is Real–Part Three (a hurtful e-mail)

God is Real–Part Four (pain)

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God is Real–Part Four

How do I know God is real? I’ve experienced Him in extraordinary ways; it’s as simple as that. To read what I’ve written in previous posts of this series, click here:

God is Real–Part One (a baby that nearly didn’t make it to birth)

God is Real–Part Two (a specific healing, and one that was not a healing)

God is Real–Part Three (a hurtful e-mail)

God is Real–Part Five (a zany miracle)

Here is another example of my experience with God, proving Himself real to me.  Years ago I had a skiing accident and tore my ACL.  It was repaired and I recovered well, with the help of physical therapy.  Then, several years later (perhaps 20 years ago now) I went to a couple’s home for a farewell party and their dog came running out to greet us.  Since it was heading towards my bad knee I twisted to avoid it.  Just like that, my knee gave out, for the first (and only) time since surgery.  I couldn’t walk on it and was soon in surgery for an arthroscopic procedure to see what was injured.  The ACL was broken loose and balled up in the center, so the doctor removed it through the tiny incision.  I was supposed to undergo physical therapy for a few weeks, recover from the surgery, and then have the ACL repaired.  For a while I was getting better, and no longer needed to use crutches.  But after about six weeks I realized I was getting worse again and eventually had to use crutches again, due to the pain.  Surgery was not possible until we could discover what was going on with the knee.  After bone scans, a spinal tap and more physical therapy, it was decided that my knee had developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).  As I understand it, it’s a nerve related disease with no apparent reason for the pain (it is now known as “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome).  It has to do with messages being relayed by the nerves back and forth from the brain.  We decided against knee surgery to repair the ACL and, in fact, my knee was very stable, surgery didn’t seem necessary, and it was not recommended with this new problem of pain.

Now fast forward a few years.  They had said that “RSD” could develop anywhere in my body, and when I needed surgery in both shoulders for bone spurs, they were reluctant to do the procedure, and put it off as long as possible, for fear that RSD would develop.  But the pain was getting worse and we eventually decided to do one shoulder; the result was great.  We waited six months; I healed up from the surgery and had no RSD causing further problems, so we decided to do the other shoulder.  However, as soon as I began to recover from the second surgery, I became aware of the fact that “RSD” was now in several areas–both knees, my neck, and both shoulders.  I couldn’t reach for items in the kitchen cabinets without deep pain; it hurt to open a door or even carry a purse.  I could hardly function in normal ways.  One night, I prayed to God, “I can’t handle this.  You’re the only One that can heal me, and I ask you to heal me.  I can’t function.”

Lo and behold, when I awoke in the morning the pain was gone, 100%, even in my knee.  I knew I didn’t need to take the Tylenol that I has been taking each morning.  There was NO pain.  I didn’t take anything for over a month.  And then the pain returned, but only in the knee.  Why?  I believe He allowed the pain to return in one area in order to remind me that everyone has some kind of pain.  Think about it:  you do somewhere–relational, financial, spiritual, or in some other area.  Somebody you love has died, or will die soon.  Some relationship is not quite what you’d hoped it would be.  Parenting is hard.  Jobs are difficult.  You’re frustrated with politics or the church or your community.  Everyone has pain.

I’ll never forget the fact that God healed me overnight, and that it lasted a full month.  I’ll never forget that others around me are hurting, too.  I’ll never go running to another doctor to see if he or she can heal my knee; I already know that God is the One who can heal it, and He will if He chooses.  Previous to this I had gone to many different doctors and was receiving suggestions coming from lots of people about how to find healing.  I no longer need to run around to every doctor and clinic.  I’m OK with the pain; I can live with it and be thankful every day that it isn’t my back, or a more serious condition.  I use a great knee brace when standing for any length of time.

Do I ever go to doctors any more?  Of course, but I’m no longer looking for answers to this knee problem.  Why doesn’t God heal every disease and pain for good?  I don’t know.  He will when we arrive in Heaven, assuming we have trusted Him with our lives and salvation.  But I do know, for certain, that He’s real.  I’ve experienced His instantaneous healing more than once.  A month without pain was heavenly, literally; how much better will the real place be!

Imagine

Here is an excellent quote from Beth Moore that uses my “Word of the Year” — “Cast.”  Can you imagine the scene?  In this crazy world of uncertainties and division, this is real and pure–no negativity, pain, criticism or pride.  This other world is real, and will certainly win the day.

Think of some of your greatest challenges.  Picture them then go back and stamp the words “before the throne” in front of each of these challenges.  The heart of prayer is moving these very kinds of tests and trials from the insecurities and uncertainties of earth to the throne of God.  Only then can they be viewed with dependable accuracy and boundless hope.  Close your eyes and do your best to picture the glorious seraphim never ceasing to cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  Imagine the lightning emitting from the throne, and hear the rumblings and the thunder.  Picture the elders overwhelmed by God’s worthiness, casting their crowns before the throne.  Approach the throne of grace with confidence, with eyes on Him, not on yourself.  Our God is huge!  Our God is able!  –Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 496

My favorite hymn is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” although, sadly, it isn’t sung much any more.  I still love playing this hymn on the piano in various arrangements and styles, just alone in worship and wonder.

  1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
  2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
  3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
    Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
    Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
    Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
  4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
    Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!                              –Reginald Heber, 1826

God is Real — Part Two

How do I know God is real?  The answer is that I have experienced Him — answering prayer, showing His presence, giving peace, giving direction, bringing help.  Here is another story from my own life.

Years ago I was asked to speak for a women’s retreat here.  In the days preceding the special weekend I started to get a respiratory infection, and by the day preceding, I had lost my voice completely.  In fact, I could only whisper, and I had a big lump in my throat.

The women were gathering the night before to set up and to pray together, and I whispered my prayer request to them — “Please pray that God will either heal my voice OR show us who is supposed to speak in my place.”

I’ll never forget when an elderly lady in the circle prayed for me.  She didn’t ask for God to heal my voice OR give direction; she simply asked for Him to heal me.  The instant she prayed, I felt a cool breeze go in my mouth, down my throat and dissolve that lump.  My voice returned instantly.  I’m not one to get up and run around shouting, so when we finished praying I simply said, “It’s back.  My voice is back.”  Then I told them what had happened.  Sure enough, my voice was completely well for the speaking engagement the next day.

Does God always heal?  No.  Why?  I don’t know.  But I have a follow-up story to share.

A few months later I was supposed to speak in another event several miles away from Buffalo.  The night before, again, I was not feeling well, and wasn’t sure whether I should go or not.  My prayer that night was that God would either heal me or let me know by morning if I should cancel.

That night, two of our kids were up sick in the night; real sick.  I knew I could not go to the speaking engagement.  The group asked me to re-schedule and we did.  Without any planning on our part, on the date we rescheduled, my in-laws happened to be coming through Wyoming, through that very town.  My mother-in-law was able to meet with me at the speaking engagement, and she even brought a friend that lived in that town.  Both she and the friend did not live many years past that speaking engagement, and it was the only time she heard me share publicly about my faith.  I know that God knew what He was doing when he stopped me from going the first time.  Whether He heals or not when I pray, I know He sees the full picture and knows what is best.  I also know, from experience, that He very definitely can and will heal instantly, sometimes, when we ask.  I have another experience similar to this to share with you sometime in the future.

For corresponding posts see these links:

God is Real–Part One (a baby that nearly didn’t make it to birth)

God is Real–Part Three (a hurtful e-mail)

God is Real–Part four (pain)

God is Real–Part Five (a zany miracle)

dove-bw

God is Real — Part One

How do I know God is real?  It’s simple.  I’ve experienced Him.  I have no doubt of His presence in my life.  Yesterday I was reminded of an event that occurred years ago.  It was the birthday of the son of a close friend.  When she was (early) pregnant with him we were working on a musical, for which she was the lead character.  It required a lot of energy and jumping around on stage, and she started to miscarry her baby, bleeding and having other complications.  I left practice night after night concerned about her.  One night on the way home I begged God for a sign that the baby would be safe, perhaps by showing some kind of sign in the sky.  I have never asked for a sign before or after this, but was really concerned that night.

Driving home I kept looking at the sky to no avail, and as I walked up the sidewalk into the house I lingered a long time on the front porch, hoping to see the promise.  But I had to give up, and decided to entrust the child to God.  I knew it wasn’t my problem to solve.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by a loud sound.  It was as though someone had taken ahold of the gate of the fence outside our bedroom window, and shook it strongly.  I jumped out of bed and looked out to see if someone was there, but the only thing I saw — was a falling star.

starfall

Now I had my promise.  I told my friend the next day that now we could be certain the baby would be all right, and he was.  He’s 20 years old now.

I want to make it clear that it wasn’t the star that was so impressive to me; it was the fact that God answered my prayer and gave us a complete sense of peace and assurance, something only He can do.  That’s how I know He’s real; He’s present in my life and so very real to me.  There is no other explanation.  I will share some more stories in the days to come.

For corresponding posts see these links:

God is Real–Part Two (a specific healing, and one that was not a healing)

God is Real–Part Three (a hurtful e-mail)

God is Real–Part four (pain)

God is Real–Part Five (a zany miracle)

I Couldn’t Believe It

Leave it up to an 18-year-old to come up with a really deep question.  I couldn’t believe he asked me this.  My internet friend, Zach Younkin asked if he could feature an interview of me on two blogs here and here.  I agreed, and then proceeded to look through the questions he sent back to me.  They looked pretty simple to answer until I got to #10:

If you could share one message with the world, what would it be?

Honestly, how would you answer this question?  There are so many things I’d like to say!  So let me say it now, while I have a chance.  Here goes:

God is real* [see note, below].  This life is all about Him, not about us.  We were not created for this world alone, but for Heaven, where God dwells.  He’s too holy and pure for us to approach, but He provided a way for us to be united with Him in Jesus Christ.  Jesus did two things for us:

  • Lived the perfect life we can’t live
  • Died in our place, so we don’t have to die

As you realize you need a Savior (only He can make this clear to you), you must look to Him, for He is the only way to Heaven.  Admit your need.  Repent of your sins and failings.  Tell Him you need Him as your Savior, for you cannot get to Him on your own.  Ask his Spirit to come into you and dwell within.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.  Acts 4:12

We need to be saved from sin, from suffering, from selfishness, and from hopelessness and despair.  Is anyone completely satisfied, happy and fulfilled in this world?  Not completely, but we can be in the next world — and we can walk with Him and learn from Him in the present one.  He’s a real and personal God — not a collection of several different gods and ideas.  He has a distinct personality that is characterized by love, righteousness and justice.  He’s involved and present in our lives, and wants the best for us.  “The best” will be a matter of setting aside our own selfish interests, plans and schemes; and letting Him change us from the inside out.  It’s a matter of letting Him be God; letting Him rule in our life. Sometimes He accomplishes this by allowing trials, loss and difficulties to surround us.  It helps us realize we’re not God, not in control, and we need a Savior.

All that He does is good, right and just — so everything He allows in our lives has a purpose — to draw us closer to Him, and to develop character, trust and security in us.  We can be secure because His love for us is unconditional. This is where so many religions and “religious” Christians get it wrong — they think it’s about trying to please him, measure up, be “good Christians,”  or do the “right thing.”  We cannot do this.  We fail time and time again.  It’s not about us; it’s about Him.  The goodness in me comes as a result of being close to Him, and as a result of His Spirit in me, never as something I do to try to please Him.  That is the difference.

It’s not about me; it’s all about Him.  It’s all about Jesus — Savior, Friend, Creator, All-knowing, Always Present, Forgiving, All-Sufficient, Sovereign Lord, Comforter, Lover, Friend, Guide, Counselor, Provider, Holy, Just, Perfect, Good, Loving, Pure, Enough

*How do I know God is real?  Several reasons — three times He has healed me instantly of various physical conditions.  I felt it happen.  I will be glad to share about these situations in future posts.  I have experienced other miracles as well as humorous situations with my Lord.  Many times — daily, in fact — He speaks to me in His Word.  I don’t go looking for scriptures to match my mood or situation.  I just read the next devotion, scripture, or chapter in the book I’m reading.  He always has specific words, instructions and encouragement for me that fit exactly what I’m experiencing.  He’s real; I’m certain of it.  I’ve been healed, rescued from perilous situations, instructed specifically in matters I’ve asked Him about, comforted and encouraged in my deepest sorrows.  He answers questions, gives wisdom, and does the things that only He can do.  No doubt about it — He’s real!  These are the very things I write about in my blog, because I want all of you to understand that He is real, not my imagination!  He is enough for me because I can’t add anything to His works on my behalf.  There is nothing in this world I need more than I need Him.  There is nothing that satisfies or fulfills as much as He does.  This is why we Child Advocates for Compassion International want so badly to share these truths with children and their parents around the world–children in need, not only of meals, immunizations and education, but of hope, purpose and security — in others words, they need a Savior.  Will you sponsor a child today?  This is God’s heartbeat, for He cares about each and every one.