MY FIRST MIRACLE
In spring of 1982 I had been saved for eight years. I had studied the Bible voraciously every day and night. I could not get enough. My friends would find me alone during lunch reading my Bible. Many nights I would stay up well into the morning hours studying and without even being tired. I was just excited with my new revelations about God. My first twenty six years had been without Jesus, and I was making up for lost time.
I really had not known what I was missing. Until I came to know Jesus I had no idea of a realm of understanding so vast and unfamiliar to me, and that the limitless supply of revelations available to us all, could not ever be exhausted—ever! As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know the Kingdom of God existed until 1974. And when I found it so simply, it was like I had found a New World.
To me, it was amazing that people could go through life and not know Jesus, and yet, that is exactly what I had done. And now I was happier than I had ever been in my life, so now I was dedicated to opening that door to as many people as I possibly could. It was easy. I found ways to bring Jesus into almost any conversation. I was considered, by some, to be an enlightened, dedicated, holy disciple of Jesus. While others felt that I was nothing short of fanatical because of my firm belief and trust in God’s Word. I still think it strange that, within the church, it’s the way we treat God’s Word that determines who we respect and who we condemn.
It was the Word of God that had brought me to Jesus. And it was the Holy Spirit that had compelled me, through one man, to seek Jesus. I remember the very early days of discovery as I found the revelations on every page of the Bible that had been there waiting for me all the time. When I discovered this treasure of truth it was overwhelming in the best sort of way.
As the years went by, my focus had been to develop my faith. There was one simple reason why, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And I definitely wanted to please my Heavenly Father. I worked diligently to develop faith specifically in the area of divine healing. What I felt was that, either you were healed or you were not, so divine healing was a sure way of knowing if my faith was real and mature, or not. I felt there was no in-between. I saw it as black or white. I saw God’s Word as real and true and living—that was black and white too as far as I was concerned. All I needed to do was believe it and act on it in faith. So divine healing became my quest and my thermometer to measure my faith.
As I continued to virtually consume the Scriptures, I began to realize that God is an exact God. He says what He means, and means what He says. There were some very clear and precise promises that I observed in the Bible. But the puzzling situation I found was that I was not seeing them manifested in my Church or, for the most part, in my entire Christian community. But that did not deter me from my belief that God is real; His Word is real, and we should be seeing His work and His miracles being manifested in our lives, and on a regular basis. To my way of thinking, not seeing these miracles was blasphemy and a serious lack of real faith. To me, not seeing in our lives what we read in the Bible is simply a result of not seeking God with all our hearts and following Him in faith and humility. “Wishing and hoping” was just not going to get it done, but real true “nothing doubting” faith should. The way I saw the Scriptures, God is not a fool, and He actually means what He says. And He told us to walk by faith and not by sight!
The way I began to interpret my experience was that we were not seeing these miracles that God promised, because we, as a Christian body of believers, were believing for some things but not for others. We could believe something if it did not require immediate discernable validation or proof. It began to appear to me that if the obstacle was too big, or maybe ‘impossible’ by normal standards, then we would simply accept it as ‘God’s will’.
Well, that had begun to really bother me. If it were God’s will for someone to be sick, then what in the world was Jesus doing going around and healing people everywhere? You see, it just didn’t add up to me logically. So I kept searching. But the more I read, the more I came to trust God’s Word when it said that, if you will just believe then “nothing will be impossible to you”-- Matthew 17:21
So I began to see the phrase, “if it be God’s will” simply as a cop out for not having enough faith. I couldn’t say that to my Christian brothers and sisters, because that statement, and that accepted current theology, was so prevalent that I was definitely in the minority. But I was determined to be the minority that got healed when the time came.
I felt that if something had been specifically discussed in the Bible, and a precedent had been set, then my role as a disciple of Jesus was to accept it, believe it, and act on it. It, to me, was that simple. I was to trust God’s Word by faith and not to utter the faithless words of, “if it be God’s will”. Why would that word ‘if’ ever enter a faith filled, trusting sentence? If God had shown what His will is by the actions of Jesus, then our role is simply to stand on that will—period!
I was reminded of the time when Jesus was asked what His will was: “…a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ’Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’. Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8: 2-3. The answer that Jesus gave meant that it was His will to heal the leper. And that was plain enough for me. To believe anything else is to compromise, to water down, to not trust the Word of God. And if you are not going to trust what Jesus said, then why even call yourself a Christian. See, I told you—black and white.
Well the time came in the spring of 1982 for me to prove my faith. I did not know what was about to happen or how important it would be to my life from that moment on, but it turned out to be remarkable to say the least.
It was early spring, and I could not wait to get into the swimming pool. I remember it was a clear day, and the sky was a brilliant blue. It was warm, and the water looked so inviting. My 6 foot 2 inch, 182 pound frame was not a muscle bound jock frame, but it might resemble a swimmer jock look. Nevertheless, I did notice a couple of onlookers looking admiringly as I made my way to the diving board. I guess there could have been a little of a young man’s pride slipping into my thinking. I did try to stay in shape, but during the winter I had not worked out regularly. They may, however, have been wondering why I was willing to brave the early spring cold pool water. They might have been waiting to see me shiver.
During the winter I had been busier than normal with work, and I had not given much time to physical exercise. In other words, I was definitely not in shape, and my muscles were not taut.
As I stepped up onto the diving board, I didn’t give it any thought that I was not warmed up at all. I had not stretched or loosened up. So when I ran to the end of the board and jumped up and planted both feet very hard onto the spring board; I felt such a pain that even while I was in the air, I knew I was in trouble.
As I came down into the water I was immediately worried, because I was already in such pain that I wasn’t sure that I could swim even the short distance to the side of the pool. I had wrenched my major neck muscles very severely. The pain was paralyzing as I made my way to the edge.
I tried to pull myself up, but couldn’t. The pain was too crippling. With every effort pain would shoot through my neck like an electric shock. It’s as though you can’t even move any part of your body without using your neck muscles. I tried again. Again, I couldn’t take the pain.
Finally someone noticed the excruciating anguish on my face and came running.
“Are you alright?” Some lady asked with a tone of concern.
All I could do was groan. “Here, let me help.” She pleaded. But as she took my arm and gave it a tug, I moaned,
“Wait. Wait.” She paused while waiting for my instructions.
“It’s my neck.” I was barely able to utter. “Help me v e r y slowly.” I said as I glanced into her eyes to convey the sense of seriousness I felt.
At that point she went into slow motion, and thankfully was very careful as she helped to drag me onto the poolside. Others had come to help, and she had cautioned them to move me slowly and with smooth motions.
“Don’t jerk him whatever you do.” She said. I was very happy that she was there.
I laid there for several minutes to allow my muscles to cease from spasms. A couple of ‘good Samaritans’ asked helpful questions, but all I wanted to do was to not move.
Finally I got them to help me up which was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. I found that if I treated my head, neck, and body as one unit; moving them all in the same direction at the same time, then I didn’t get the ‘electric shock’. But it was when I bent over that I got another sever jolt, and it almost knocked me to my knees. Boy was that rough.
I spent the rest of the day in bed with aspirin and heating pads. I had a very important breakfast meeting the next morning, so I decided that I would probably be able to make the meeting if I got plenty of rest and a variety of pain relievers. Going to a doctor is almost never in my thinking. I am thankful for them, but I don’t call upon them unless absolutely necessary. My wife calls me a little hard headed. Sometimes I think it might just be a ‘guy thing’.
The next morning a very hot bath helped me to get ready for my meeting. I pumped in a few more pain relievers, and was on my way. I was numb from the pain relievers, but I could still feel enough pain to know I had to be very slow, deliberate, and careful in my movements. My thinking was that, if I were careful enough, I would recover even if it was a slow recovery. With my Marine Corps and martial arts background I had plenty of injuries, so I knew that time is my friend when it comes to healing.
“Hi Roger”. Henry said, as he extended his hand for a shake. We had arrived in the parking lot of the restaurant at the same time. I slowly held my hands up to indicate that we could not shake hands. I certainly was not going to shake my head to signal ‘no’. “What’s wrong?” He asked with a grin. We guys seem to always love to poke fun at each other.
“I pulled neck muscles.” I said simply.
“How?” Henry knew that I was pretty athletic. Henry was not. He was the best salesman I had ever employed, but athletic he was not. He was probably about seventy five pounds overweight with no physical activity of any kind. His graying hair made him look very much like the young grandfather that he was.
“Diving board, yesterday.” “Didn’t warm up.” I said briefly.
Henry raised his eyebrows to indicate his acknowledgement of my recklessness. “I know; not smart. I guess I wasn’t thinking.” I confessed.
About then, as we were walking into the restaurant, Hal came pulling into the parking lot. We waved, and went on in.
“I’m going to sit. Will you get me a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit and coffee?”
I didn’t even offer to pay. I knew it was no use. Henry wouldn’t let me pay.
As Hal walked in, Henry said to him, “Don’t get to close to Roger this morning. He’s a crip.” Hal glanced over at me, and could tell that I was not my normal energetic self, so he just made his way to the counter. Hardees’s biscuits are the best. Even in my numb physical state, I still enjoyed that wonderful flavor. Call me simple, but it’s hard to beat a Hardee’s biscuit.
As the meeting progressed, so did my pain. It finally got to the point that I was feeling desperate. I did, however, finish my meeting. The old Marine in me would not allow me to stop short of my goal.
I headed for my office, but about half way there I realized it was a mistake. I was hurting so badly that I began to be concerned that I might lose consciousness. I know. I know. I pushed myself too far. I pushed myself so far that it might be considered pretty stupid.
I thought about heading for the hospital, but it was farther away than my office, and I knew that I couldn’t make it that far. I would try to make it to my office and then call someone to take me to the hospital. O.K., now, that was my plan.
At this point I think it is important to explain just how extensive the injury and the pain were. I was trained in the United States Marine Corps to ignore the pain and to keep on going. It was not just a slogan; it was my life. It was so deeply ingrained into my being that there was no deliberation; there was just the mission; no matter how big or small.
In addition to the hard core Marine training, there were also years of Karate training which, in attitude, is very similar. In other words, with all these years of training, I really did not know how to quit. It just was not in my vocabulary, and to accept any kind of assistance made me feel very uneasy.
But the pain was so crippling that I really had no choice. So as I arrived at my office, I walked straight to my desk where I would find the phone and call for the help that I so desperately needed.
But that is when the events took an entirely different turn. And what is so amazing is that as these events were unfolding; I did not even recognize the shift until I looked back on them in retrospect.
As I sat down very slowly and carefully behind my desk, still in tremendous agony; I looked at the phone, but then a life changing moment took place. I looked to the other side of my desk, and there was my Bible. I looked at it; I looked back at the phone; I looked back to the Bible.
I reached to my Bible and drew it near. You see, for eight years I had been feeding my soul with the Truth of God’s Word. And at this moment, without even consciously realizing it, God’s Word had become more real to me than the ability of the doctors at the hospital. Even though I had never even seen a miraculous healing; I believed it could happen.
Habit and built-up belief and real faith was about to take control of my actions. I began to read one faith reinforcing scripture after another: “By His stripes I am healed”, “Nothing is impossible with God”, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”; I felt my faith growing into a blessed assurance of God’s love and provision for anything I needed or wanted.
And then I read the Holy Scripture that changed my life. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gives us a tremendous truth; “Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them”!!!
I looked at the Words of Life. And for the first time in my life, I knew I was about to experience a miracle. I mean, I knew that I knew!
I read those Words with a knowing that they were revelation and they would accomplish what they were written down to accomplish.
I looked at the Word ‘desire’, and as I briefly meditated upon that Word; I went to my Lord Jesus with simple, child-like faith.
I placed my right hand on my, still throbbing neck, and I said these words; “Jesus, I ‘desire’ for this pain to go away. And right now, in the Name of Jesus, I’m going to stand on Your Word.”
I then placed my right hand on my Bible, and I lifted my left hand toward Heaven as I said, “I receive your healing, and right now, in the Name of Jesus, I call it done.”
Right then, as the last syllable was being uttered, my neck got really hot, and I felt the devastating pain instantly disappear!
Words cannot describe the emotions that instantaneously welled up in me at that moment. It was God’s Word and faith in God’s Word that had gotten me to that point, but with my first, instantaneous, divine healing came emotions that can only be categorized as an outburst of exaltation for my gracious Risen Lord that is still in the healing business! Halleluiah!
I jumped up and ran out of my office. I had to tell everyone about my miracle working, loving, living Jesus.
And I knew that I would never be the same.
Application: Trust Jesus today. Seek Him in everything in your life. He loves you and wants to bless you. If you approach Him, with His love in mind, it will be easy to believe His promises. By the way, His greatest miracle is Salvation.
Prayer: Jesus, I know you love me, so I trust you right now to save me and to help me to believe you and your promises. Amen.
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