Most trials and difficulties in life aren’t really brain surgery. Once in a while, it really is.
Modern Miracles, what a mouthful, right? What do those two words evoke when you see or hear them? In this day often our thoughts move directly to technology, especially related to micro evolution that surrounds us. One thing that comes to mind is a recent development of tiny robotic machines that could one day traverse our veins and spy on health issues. Dare we imagine? How about a cure for cancer, or AIDs or other such plagues against our bodies? How about just eliminating the common cold as we nearly have smallpox? That one I’d like to see.
The problem I see with that simple two word phrase is with the word miracle itself. Over the centuries, especially I believe during the last 60 years or so, the word miracle has lost it’s luster. It’s become tarnished in the wake of booming and boundless technological advancements. Much like during the time of the tower of Babel, mankind has become quite smitten with itself and it’s ‘creations’ and innovations. But what is really at the heart of the word miracle? Let’s turn to the expert of words, Merriam-Webster.
1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs (also noted as: an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God)
2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
3 Christian Science : a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law
Oddly enough, in this age of nearly out-of-control narcissism, Webster allows the first definition as being a manifestation of GOD and rightfully so. Mankind’s first experience with miracles were entirely from GOD. Consider the Exodus.
And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
Exodus 4:21 (ESV)
Recall how even in the midst of such wondrous sights Pharaoh scoffed at the notion any of them were miracles and had his minions working overtime to find natural causes. Scripture calls that a hardened heart.
And what about today? People say where is GOD today. Assuming He exists He cares nothing for the rabble of waring minions on this planet. Miracles today are a result of the increasing intelligence of mankind, not some authoritarian Creator of all things. We’ve reached a point where we no longer need Him and so He’s gone off to other pursuits. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Hardened hearts aplenty.
The one thing modern science and all of our great human intellect is proving, but we don’t talk about it too much, is that human life itself is a miracle. That elusive ‘origin’ of the species or missing link, has still yet to be found. However with closer examination of DNA and particles at the subatomic level we’re beginning to have to acknowledge there is indeed a ‘source’ for all that we know of existence, and it wasn’t in some murky swamp where genetic material just happened to come together in the only possible sequence to make life possible. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider only recently announced finding something they think might be what they are calling the God Particle.
Yet there are ‘test tube’ babies and cloning now right, so man has come full circle and discovered how to recreate itself in a triumph of scientific success. However the question that begs to be asked of this achievement is; where did your source material come from? Did you create it from nothingness, or did you instead harvest it from a human, and then manipulate it? No, this much is clear; man can and does procreate, at the behest and with the blessing of GOD the Creator, and that my friends is the most amazing of miracles that continues every single day. And about all that accumulating knowledge? The Source of the miracle of life is also the very same Source for the building blocks of everything that surrounds us, from the earth itself to the knowledge and discovery we are blessed to have been given. There is but one GOD and He is the source of all things.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:1-3 (ESV)
My Brother’s Story
When I sat to write, I didn’t intend for this to become a diatribe on my own personal faith, yet after having experienced the past 2 years, I can no longer remain passively silent about the Source of modern miracles. You do hear stories all the time about faith and healing and miracles and we’ll think ‘oh that’s great’ and then eat another potato chip and not allow it to fully register. Even as people of faith, or rather people who believe GOD does exist, we have checked out of experiencing the real and tangible blessings of GOD that surround us. How is it we are so desensitized to it? Is it information overload? Is it unbridled narcissism? Or is it we just allow ourselves to be distracted from keeping our focus consistently where it really needs to be? Hardened hearts.
I will be the first to admit to being distracted and desensitized. The worst part is I have had no excuse to be this way.
Several years ago I had a firsthand encounter with a modern miracle of GOD. My brother was found to have 4th stage lymphoma throughout his abdomen. After 3 surgeries successfully removed all but 7 tumors in his liver that were inoperable, the pulmonary ‘specialist’ who seemingly could care less about anything but his pay check, told us after 10 days of being in a coma state we’d have to take him off life support and let him go or force him to live a life on a ventilator. Due to his mental handicap, I had earlier been assigned control of his medical treatment and after a family conference, signed the paper to let him go. I sat with him all night, watching his tired body try to breathe, praying desperately, and talking to him, comforting him, and encouraging him to fight. Not only did he survive that very long night, but he was nearly instantly out of a coma, and after 6 months of some very aggressive chemo, received a clean bill of health. There were NO 4th stage lymphoma tumors to be found in his liver anywhere, or evidence they had ever been there! Praise be to GOD! The doctors were amazed, some reluctantly. He is still with us today.
Many will say this isn’t a miracle but the result of modern medicine and mankind’s great achievements and knowledge. I wholeheartedly disagree. Because what I know is that GOD the Creator is the single Source for all knowledge and invention. He is the author of creation and the limits of our abilities are inherently dependent upon His blessing us with these things.
My brother has been my testimony to the miracles of GOD that still very much surround us to this day. The problem is, I have rarely shared it. It’s a very powerful witness, that I have become distracted from by another potato chip. Man of faith? What ever!
My Own Story
I AM a witness. This is a witness about timing and GOD’s blessing. It isn’t nearly complete yet, but today I can clearly see what has been going on. It’s been nothing short of miraculous. How events have all been timed to perfection is beyond my comprehension.
2 years ago, after entirely too many mind numbing, missteps of sheer stupidity, I finally met and refused to let go of, the woman I will share the rest of my time with. I can’t overstate how I wish we had met in high school, but she would have been in grade school then. Or how we’d met at this or that critical time, but alas it was not supposed to happen for what ever reason. It’s easy to look back and realize how much damage would have been avoided. How lives would be far better today, if only. Yet our reality is, in spite of the desire to have things work differently throughout our past, none of it can be changed. We only have today, not even the promise of tomorrow. Why GOD waited until now to present me with this perfect mate for me I don’t understand, but I can only assume my stupidity has played a part in it. I’m glad that’s over.
We have dreams, hopes, aspirations, and desires, as most couples do. From the beginning we discovered all too many dreams we shared already, and many that just melded together with such ease it’s impossible to explain. We immediately began to make plans which started with what we knew would be marriage, but included selling homes and moving away to start a business we had both dreamed of. We soon started working towards these goals by doing some renovations on both of our homes, a good test for anyone’s resolve. Progress was at times painfully slow, but we persisted. We wed, I moved to her home and we finished the work on mine and put it on the market, with the plan of selling it, then listing hers, and running off after the dream. But for some reason the brakes slammed on and my home didn’t sell right away. It got more showings than all the others in the area, but it sat. It was priced well, which meant I was losing about $12,000 in renovations I had invested over the years, but that’s how the market rolls some times. We needed it sold to forge our dream into reality. Not to mention who wants 2 mortgages in a challenging economy.
Both of us believe GOD works in our lives to His will and better purpose, and that doesn’t always align with what our plans might be. So in spite of the lack of progress we opted to continue to cling to hope, plan for the future, and trust that GOD’s timing would bring the right buyer at the right time.
During this time of waiting we were able to completely pay off all debt (except for those mortgages), save up over $7,000 in cash, and enjoy a trip to the Florida keys in a rented Ford Edge which we decided we’d eventually use that savings for. We were very comfortable and life was good. But why hasn’t GOD brought a buyer for my home? In His time.
Months pass and impatience grows. Something is up. We dropped the price, it’s getting interest, but no serious bites. Well maybe it’s the economy. But it is a buyer’s market. It’s in GOD’s hands and will sell when it’s time. We continued to dream and had been looking at homes in other areas. We’d found several good possibilities and any of them would have worked pretty well for us. If only this home would sell we could buy one of these and sell the other, and be on our way. I don’t understand GOD’s timing when we have these great opportunities available right now.
Memorial Day weekend we ran off for a 3 day trip to relax and get away. It was also partly to look at a different state for potential residency one day too. It was part of continuing to hope and plan for the future we know is in store. It was a great trip. We laughed, explored, experienced the area, and walked our legs off. But 2 weeks later a problem begins to reveal itself.
One day in mid June I awoke and noticed my right ankle seemed unusually weak. I commented later that day about it and figured it was from one of our yard projects we’d been working on around the house. However within that week it shockingly progressed from ankle weakness to no longer being able to move my ankle or my toes. What is going on? Have I had a stroke? My blood pressure has been inching up slowly over the years but had actually dropped since meeting and marrying my wife. I had no other symptoms that would indicate a stroke. A bug bite from our trip maybe?
Within a few days the headache started. Over the years I’ve had a lot of headaches. Sinus from allergies. What’s commonly referred to as cluster headaches, the male version of a migraine. Stress headaches. An apparent allergy to honey headaches. It’s been a buffet of sorts. And within that mix, I’ve been blessed with a pretty high tolerance for pain, so often I don’t even treat them, but rather power on through it like a train through a snow drift. But this headache was different. It was very focused in one specific spot. It pulsed slowly, going from nothing to intense stabbing and was not at all timed with my heart pulse. So intense at times it would wake me from a sound sleep. Weird. I grabbed for and took a single aspirin and it went away within half an hour. But it would always come back later in the day. More aspirin, more relief.
At this point you’re thinking ‘you better get to the hospital and get this stroke dealt with’. Sounds about right. But I was in the middle of a very time critical project at work and associated this headache with that. No, not with my foot and ankle problem which at this point seemed stable and manageable with an elastic support wrap. They were 2 different realities in my mind. I should also mention the older I get the less confidence I have in the medical sciences and much prefer holistic options instead. The weird headache continued for the next couple of weeks and then started to ease a bit as the project at work started to come to a close. Ah-ha, I was right, stress.
Then… boom! I find out my entire department of over 60 people at my employer of over 11 years is being outsourced to India. A layoff? There had been one the previous year I managed to avoid, but not this time. The upside was it would be several months before I would officially lose my job, and the severance package was very generous. Okay but, now what? If my home had sold already we’d be in great shape to weather my possibly being out of work in a bad economy for a while. We hadn’t yet purchased that car because it had never seemed like a good idea to do so yet while having 2 mortgages. So without a second mortgage, and with the severance and our savings, we’ll be fine. GOD must have a buyer in the wings already to cover all of this. Not only that, but when doors close, look for others to open. So we shifted our thinking towards this was GOD’s way of shaking us up and pushing us forward towards our dream. Now the home will surely sell.
Soon after I began to detect more weakness in my right leg. By this time the weird headache had mostly subsided, but I started to lose more mobility in my lower leg. Time to go see the doc. Now my doctor is a uniquely quirky guy. He’s an MD but his focus is on holistic as much as pills. He’ll give you pills if that’s want you want, or will happily discuss other options. I like that and he’s done well by me with it. After a brief exam, he concluded I had an uncommon condition called foot drop, which is apparently caused from pinched nerves in the knee. Okay, that seems to make sense. What about the weird headache? Probably a stress cluster. Okay, I’m good with that too. He knows I don’t like tests so why get into it? However he said to confirm the foot drop he’d like to have a nerve conduction test done. Sigh. I knew what this meant. My darling wife had one of those a couple of years earlier. She had told me all about it and that not only was it very uncomfortable, almost painful, but that it was super expensive and proved nothing towards a diagnosis of her ailment. I accepted his recommendation and left, but in the back of my mind I thought “I do not want a super expensive and potentially worthless test right before I lose my job. This is no time to be racking up large medical bills so someone can ‘practice’ medicine on me.” I spent the next week balking over it. They called to schedule the test and I dodged the call. Something about it didn’t seem right, beyond the expense. And even though it was subsiding, I started to begin to wonder if there might be a leg to headache connection.
My leg was getting worse. At this time half of the muscles in my knee were no longer responding to the messages my brain was sending. I could no longer lift my lower leg to put my shoes on, I had to pick it up with my hand. I couldn’t put pants on and off without manually threading my dead leg in to them. Walking was beginning to become a real problem as I had lost my normal gait and was literally tossing my foot out ahead of me. I began to trip over my foot as many as a dozen times a day. With the loss of knee muscles my foot was now angled out to the right. I could not stand with it straight forward. I kicked everything with it. There was no control. As it worsened, my stress increased, my blood pressure skyrocketed to a steady 160/90, and then i noticed my right hand. I was losing my fine motor skills. I can’t sign my name, I can’t write, I can’t play guitar any more. I called my doc! I told him I didn’t want the test but wanted to see a neurologist. He said he thought that would be a good idea and made the referral.
My neurologist did a brief history and then a series of simple exam tests to make an initial determination. She, unlike all the rest of us, made the leg headache connection immediately telling me that is a classic example of how the brain perceives nerve pain. Not your normal headache. A stroke was ruled out but she wanted tests. She mentioned a nerve conduction test which I said I didn’t want if it wasn’t going to provide anything conclusive but just add to the cost, after which she said it wasn’t necessary. She did order considerable blood work and a full brain MRI. She told me we’re looking at a wide possibility of problems but she was leaning towards MS or a tumor. MS or a tumor?
It took 3 weeks to get the tests done and return for the results. During this time my leg was steadily and rapidly getting worse, and I was very slowly losing my right arm. Not the muscles, and not the strength, but all fine motor control. My appointment to get the results was late in the afternoon. The entire day I was beyond distraught. Not knowing really is worse. Especially for someone with such a fertile imagination as myself. Once there in her office, my blood pressure clocked in at 180/110. Now THAT my friends is stress! The result… it’s not MS. Praise GOD! That was my greatest fear. But it is a tumor. We’re 99.9% sure it’s not cancer but a meningioma, which is a benign tumor. Praise GOD again! But it’s 1 3/4 inches in size and is putting pressure on the part of the brain that controls the right leg, in between the lobes pressing in on my left lobe. It will not go away and will only get worse, potentially leading to memory loss and other problems. Radiation will not help as it’s already too big. It needs to be removed. She asked where I’d like to have it done. Having had nothing but bad experiences with the hospital network her office is with, I requested one on the other side of town where people were always signing praises of. Then I’m sending you to one of the very best surgeons in the area. I had told her previously of my pending job loss and that I didn’t have time to lose on having insurance coverage for this, so she called and spoke to him directly to get me in ASAP. My bride and I met with him 4 days later.
After the diagnosis, everything moved fast. Almost too fast. The surgeon agreed it had to be removed, and surgery was set for 10 days later. Just enough time to get my life in order. Just enough time to completely contemplate the idea of having my brain invaded. I could have lived the rest of my days without him telling us what all of the risks were, including death. However he was very direct and assuring that this was going to be a good thing. It was entirely possible I would not get the use of my leg back, however nothing would get worse. My memory and cognitive function were in no danger and it’s likely I’d get most if not all of my leg back. He wasn’t sure they could remove it all due to one of the main brain blood vessels being in the same space with this invader, but felt he would get nearly all of it. The bone removed would be riveted back in place with titanium rivets and he offered to barely remove any of my stereotypical long musician’s hair in the process. But, you’re going to cut into my skull, and stick things in there, and dig something out, and…
Coming to terms with the pending head invasion was quite surreal. And there was so much to do. I didn’t have a will. I had assumed our family financial dealings and needed to bring my wife into the fold on that. Had I updated my beneficiaries… who thinks about these things? And then there was work. Medical leave right before a layoff? Then there’s the paperwork, and endless stream of phones calls on top of more tests to make sure I could even have surgery. Why is all this happening Lord? Now? I finally met her. We’re finally together. Are we only to have this brief time? I had never quite faced my mortality in this way before. And I felt I needed to prepare for just that. It was a very real possibility.
Submission and Resolve
At some point during the chaos that ensued as surgery rapidly approached, GOD got my attention once again. It was one of those subtle moments. A whisper in the midst of a storm. Where’s your faith? Do you believe in Me? Do you trust Me? I realized I did indeed trust Him, but not at all like I should be trusting Him. He has blessed me with many skills and talents, and over time, I had fallen prey to the humanist trap. It’s my accomplishments. My talents. My reasoning ability. The reality is it’s not at all mine. It’s how GOD created me and what GOD has given me to use in this life for Him. For His purpose. It was never my playing that ever lead anyone to Christ. It was the talent He invested in me knowing I would go and be there when that person needed to hear what GOD gave me to share. What have I been doing? I was looking at the stupid potato chip. It was at that moment I gave everything over to GOD and for the first time had a sense of peace about it all. Oh I still needed to sign those documents and make sure my wife would be in good shape, but the big part of it was not mine to be concerned with. Would it serve His purpose to bring my wife and I together only to dissolve us? Possibly, but it could also serve a far greater purpose to bring us together, carry us through a terrible time in a most perfect manner, and give us a witness to others about His greatness and lovingkindness. In the end, the decision is His. Either way He loves us, and will receive us in His house. The fear of surgery was still there, but it wasn’t there. Scripture comforted me greatly in knowing that GOD has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear Not.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:9-11 (ESV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23 (ESV)
The day arrived. By this time it was all I could do to still walk. I was ready. It was wearing me out. The stress was wearing us both out. Stress, fear, yet peace. My decision to go to the other hospital was completely GOD inspired. It is a faith based non-profit. Everyone there was beyond kind and compassionate, from the administration to the nurses to the people cheerfully keeping things clean. I could not have had better care. My wife and our families could not have received more kindness and compassion. For my part, surgery was easy. But they felt the full brunt and emotion of it for 3 hours. As my surgery was beginning there was an announcement and prayer over the hospital public address for the doctors, staff and patients undergoing surgery at that time. We had reached out to family, friends, and coworkers for prayer, and only prayer. We were rewarded and blessed to have been on many church prayer lists during this whole time and we felt GOD’s presence all around us.
GOD blessed the hands of my surgeon and allowed the entire tumor to be removed, and in less time than they expected. He stuck to his word and left all my hair much to our astonishment (not that this would be a deal breaker). Recovery went well and I was in ICU for the rest of the day. The following day i had some slight movement in my right foot but not much. A physical therapist got me up and it was all I could do to walk at all, or rather, she drug me around the room in a pathetic attempt to walk. My left leg was now not wanting to move either. The surgeon warned it could get worse before it gets better. I guess this is what he meant. I remained in bed but was otherwise recovering so well that I was moved to a standard room about 24 hours after surgery. That afternoon in the regular room I was feeling much better, sitting up in a chair most of that time and having a few visitors. I was up some, but walking was still a struggle in general. I was getting a little more movement in my right leg as the day wore on and my left leg started to resume it’s normal duties. Surprisingly, there was almost no pain at all. No severe headaches they warned of, just some slight pressure. Not even the incision was sore. That still totally baffles me.
I slept fairly well that night but woke up suddenly at 3:20 am. My right foot… it moved. My toes, ankle, knee, it was ALL working again! I immediately raised my arms and praised and worshipped GOD! Since that moment I now call myself a blessed man. It was all back. Even the residual weakness in my right arm seemed to be gone. Later that morning a physical therapist came in and had me walking the hall very well and easily with a walker. My foot was straight again, no longer flailing around wildly to the side. My gait was fully restored. An hour or so later my surgeon came in to check on me. It had been about 48 hours since he had finished the surgery. I stood up to great him with a hug. He was astounded. He asked me to walk, and then to lift my foot at the ankle and exclaimed “You couldn’t do that!”. He then asked if I’d like to go home as they weren’t doing a thing for me there.
This has been a miracle in many ways. The nearly instant healing alone speaks volumes to that. In fact as I initially penned this a mere 10 days post surgery it’s become clear I won’t even need physical therapy. However on closer reflection, the timing of how it has all come together shows a clear picture of how GOD does work behind the scenes. Of how He knows what is best and His timing is perfection. We need to come to terms with this, and stop stressing over our plans. Make plans. Ask GOD’s blessing upon them. And get out of His way. We could have fought and tried to force our will. Yet in the end it likely would have been disastrous. Our miracle time line paints a clear picture of this.
- 2 years ago my wife and I met and a year later were married. That in itself has been one of the greatest blessings I have received. But the timing was the beginning of this series of remarkable miracles. I could not have gone through this without her.
- We completed all the difficult remodel work to sell homes and listed mine for sale.
- We paid off ALL debt other than mortgages.
- We banked over $7,000 in cash.
- In spite of finding several homes elsewhere we liked, mine didn’t sell so we had to wait and stay put.
- My leg problem began.
- My job was eliminated, but would continue for a few months to come.
- The tumor was diagnosed. Had we moved away, this might not have happened. Had we moved away the care I received and expert surgeon might not have been available. Had we moved away I would have left this job before it ended, and not had the insurance or the short term medical disability to rely upon. Had my home sold, we would have moved away.
Our first year and half together has been spent getting things in order to build our dream. Doesn’t sound too remarkable, but what took place during this time was instrumental in working all things out for our greater good.
In the end, I’m on short term medical leave at full salary. I still have my excellent health insurance for a few more months which is paying almost the entire cost. We still have our savings to cover the rest, and no other debt. The timing of discovery and treatment was before I lost my income and insurance. It was completed days before the implementation of new health care laws in this country that are designed to destroy the best health care system in the world. My recovery has been nothing short of a full miraculous restoration. I fully expect to be ‘normal’ again with my leg strength restored within a couple of months or sooner. I fully expect to be able to play music again and lead worship. However if that doesn’t happen, I will still be praising and worshipping GOD in a far deeper way than I ever imagined possible, with a renewed faith and far better understanding of His desire for us. My wife and I will now resume working on our dream plan for the future.
All of these blessings, were made possible because my home didn’t sell.
I have no doubt that very soon a buyer will come forward.