Highland Baptist Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Helping People Follow Jesus
Lord, Save Him and Preserve Him
“I think we need dog food,” I said, as I did the most useful thing I could do while shopping with Sue in a Walmart – I pushed the cart. We were going down the dog food aisle when, suddenly, everything started spinning. I clung to the handles of the shopping cart, but I was losing my balance and heading for the floor.
“Something is wrong!” I cried out as I was falling. The shopping cart was tipping over on its side as I went down, refusing to let go of its handle. I felt as if it were all happening in slow motion. As I lay on the floor, I could not move, everything was still spinning, but I could talk.
Immediately Sue was at my side. I heard her whisper a prayer, “Lord, save him and preserve him.” Soon people were at my side. One Walmart associate asked me questions about what happened. I told her I didn’t know and that I just went down. No pain, no warning. Someone got me a pillow. The store was still spinning. I overheard an older lady tell Sue she was going to contact her prayer chain and asked what she could specifically pray about.
In a few minutes the paramedics arrived, and as they are so skillfully trained to do, they quickly assessed the situation. I remember them taking my blood pressure on one arm and on the other inserting an IV. All the while they were working I remember them asking me questions, like, “Can you tell us what happened?” “Do you feel any pain?” I was calm all the while, talking to them and answering their questions, although I do not remember what I said, other than there was no pain. I do remember that I was getting hot, starting to sweat, and everything was still spinning. I was helpless, no control.
The ambulance ride was pretty neat! I’d never been for an ambulance ride before and I thought, “This is pretty cool!” High tech equipment, radio chatter in the background. I could hear the siren going. The paramedics played a crucial role that day saving my life. They are unsung heroes. They do their job and then disappear. Are they ordained by God?
In the ambulance I was getting hotter and sweating profusely. The last thing I remember was the paramedic asking me which hospital I would rather go to. “Providence,” I responded. It was the closest to our home. I went unconscious after that.
This all happened May 28, 2004. I had taken that Friday off from work so I could enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend with the family. Sue and I went to Walmart that morning to get plants and bark mulch for our landscaping. After loading the bark mulch in the bed of our pickup truck we went inside to get a few things. You can never go to Walmart and buy just one item!
The next memory I have is in my hospital room. It was about the time Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, passed away. Reports of his life and accomplishments were on TV. It turns out though, thirteen days had passed since the ambulance ride I thought was so cool. Thirteen days, almost two weeks of my life of which I have no memory. Gone.
I learned that I had an Inter-cranial Brain Bleed. One blood vessel had burst deep down inside my cerebellum. Well, that explains the loss of balance. I had spent the last thirteen days in ICU fighting for my life. Funny thing is, I don’t remember a bit of it.
This is what I’ve been told though: The doctor on duty that day was a neuro-surgeon – a brain doctor! Divine intervention? He drilled a hole in my head and put in a shunt to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure that had built up. Another doctor later told Sue that most patients that have a brain bleed do not live. In fact, one person died earlier that day in the ER. He also told her that if I did survive it the outcome would be uncertain. Though I think doctors have to tell you the worst – God had different plans.
Sue called the girls (I affectionately refer to my three daughters as “the girls”) while I was being transported to Providence and told them, “Daddy fell down and he’s in the hospital. I don’t know if he’ll be OK. Pray.” With Internet savvy teenagers, within minutes there were many people praying, literally around the world, for me, for God to heal me.
As I was in ICU, even though I have no memory of it, people continued to pray for my healing. Speedy Wible, our Sunday school teacher, and Trent Henderson, the Discipleship Pastor at our church, visited me often and prayed over me. I said some pretty crazy things to them, the nurses, and my daughters…so I’ve been told.
Coming home from the hospital began the long relearning processes for me. The right side of my body had been affected by the brain bleed, and my balance was completely messed up. I felt dizzy and drunk all the time. The first time I realized my right arm had really been affected was when I was discharged from the hospital and I had to sign my name. “That’s not my signature,” I thought as I was signing. It was a squiggly loopy mess – no letters at all.
Family, friends, and people I don’t even know were praying for my healing. I went to the elders in our church, was anointed with oil, and they prayed. God has healed me, I am a living, breathing, walking, talking miracle, and I give Him all the glory. It was not an instantaneous healing though. My faith was definitely put to the test. I had to work.
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. (James 2:18, The Message)
God had preserved me and was healing me. Yes, I had the usual questions, like, “Why me, Lord?” I don’t know. I don’t understand why this happened. But I do know that God works out everything for His good. Well, that was good enough for me. So I went to work.
I had to relearn how to feed myself, how to write, how to stand without tipping over, how to walk, and eventually how to run. I spent hours copying paragraphs out of magazines. It was excruciatingly slow! For many weeks my writing was barely legible. Gradually, the letters started to take shape. Think back to your preschool days when you were learning to write your name. Well my brain knew how to make the letters, but I had to retrain my hand holding the pen how to make them. Eventually, the ball and stick letters began to take shape! Faith and works.
Learning to walk was the same way. Sue would hold my hand and we would take short walks – like to the corner of the street and back. She was with me every step of the way. Eventually, I wanted to walk on my own. I was rude with her when I told her to let go of me, but I’m sure it was from my frustration of not being able to do it on my own. Thank you, Sue, for being at my side, propping me up when I was weak, and letting me go as I became stronger. Soon I was walking on my own, around the block, and eventually through the neighborhood. Faith and works.
One day, during the summer, as I was doing a physical therapy session, I told the therapist that I wanted to run again. She asked me to run down the hall and back. Boy, was it awkward! I felt like a two year old, flat footed, knees not bent right, etc. That was a good beginning. By October I would run a short distance, maybe 100 feet, in conjunction with my walks around the neighborhood. I had a new goal though. The annual Jingle Bell run in Waco was coming up in December. It was a 5k run and I wanted to do it. And I did! To God be the glory! Faith and works!
The healing process started with Sue’s simple prayer of, “God, save him and preserve him.” He has honored that prayer and so much more. The healing process continues to this day. If you could observe my life over the years like a strobe light you would be able to see the changes. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and preserving me.
- John A.