Christmas Eve 2009 – wearing the “Elliott” tartan
This post was written on Sunday night; it shares a “praise report” and quick answer to prayer. First, Howard – 91 years of age – is my father-in-law, the quintessential “self-made man”, a widower these 12 years, who has considered living alone to be an imperative in his life. He has been growing in instability [regarding walking], and decreasing in his ability to prepare food and do other activities of daily living and has also been generally dismissive of religion and specifically scornful of needing God’s help. We did not let that stop us from helping him both as family and in Jesus’ name. He has lived with us in our home since April 1 following an injury when he fell in his kitchen.
Howard had fallen again, four days earlier, sometime before 4:00 a.m., but was found and quickly transported by 911 EMT’s to the emergency room with excruciating pain. He had fractured the C2 cervical vertebrae, the “pivot” point on the spine for the head! “Cervical spine (C-spine) injuries are the most feared of all spinal injuries because of the potential for significant deleterious sequelae. Correlation is noted between the level of injury and morbidity/mortality (ie, the higher the level of the C-spine injury, the higher the morbidity and mortality). Craniocervical junction injuries are the deadliest.” (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1267150-overview)
In our church this past Sunday, we remembered St. John the Baptist and honored his important role in preparing the way for Christ. However, the day was filled up with visiting Dad (or Gpa) and looking at facilities to which he could be transferred the next day. After this, while John attended our usual People of Praise community meeting, I stayed home uncharacteristically to rest. John came after the meeting to bring me back to the hospital and said he had invited two couples up to the hospital room and we would all go out to dinner. I expressed concern that John’s plan would not give my father-in-law enough of a visit and that we simply mustn’t make a “big evening of it.” John was surprised – one couple included my former heads of household from which I was married! Our Father had other plans for us. I decided to acquiesce.
First, Dave and Beky arrived; they are members of the Evangelical Free Church, a frankly joyous couple who exude the peace of Christ. Dave mentioned to Howard that he was looking forward to heaven. “Heaven!” said Howard, “I think of hell which is where I expect to go.” Dave said, “We would all go there if it weren’t for the one who saved us.” Howard replied, “I don’t have any savior.” Silence ensued briefly until I stood up and put my hand over his and said, “Dad, you DO have a savior.” “Who is it?” he asked. “Jesus Christ is your savior and He loves you; you know that!” John jumped in to tell a story by Mark Twain called, “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven“. That’s probably more in line with the kind of thinking about heaven that Howard could understand. (Twain wrote it shortly before his death and it appears to be unfinished at that time.)
Shortly, Frank and Carolyn, members of St. Ambrose Catholic Church, arrived. They have a VERY evangelistic bent as well as being long-time acquaintances of Howard’s whom he greatly enjoys. Carolyn sat down first. saying how unfortunate that they had to meet under such circumstances and other expressions of solidarity and compassion. Then Frank spoke truthfully about Howard’s current situation not being able to help himself or to “stand” on his own any more. He mentioned that Howard needed to trust God in this situation to help him. Howard said that “he [God] had better get busy because he isn’t doing much at the moment.” Not deterred, Frank pointed out that he needed healing and offered, “Would you like us to pray with you for healing?” Howard: “I would like that”. Frank: “Is there anything else we should pray for?” Again there was momentary silence, into which I volunteered, “You have had a problem with balance…” He said, “Yes, I have a problem with balance.” So Frank said, “Well, then, we’ll pray for both physical balance and spiritual balance.” And so we began.
Frank led the prayer during which we all laid hands on Howard and supported charismatically with quiet prayer in agreement. It was a powerful moment. I took the opportunity to pray directly to Howard’s guardian angel asking the angel to keep reminding Howard of this prayer so he would not forget (he has short-term memory lapses.) After a few moments like this, Frank ended the prayer, “… in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.” Then incredibly, Howard continued praying TO GOD, thanking Him for all that he is doing for him and for our prayer and for all of us. He concluded by asking God to continue blessing all of us. It was an unprecedented moment that brought me to tears.
Our family and various members of the People of Praise have been beseeching God on Howard’s behalf for years. His wife Loretta, who preceded him in death in 2000, prayed faithfully for him well into her struggle with Alzheimer’s, staying after church services to lift him up.
Shortly after this miraculous time of prayer, we did go out for a celebratory dinner – a fun time of fellowship and sharing about all that the Father is doing in our area currently. During the conversation, I expressed that I had felt terribly burdened earlier in the day but now felt freed and relieved. Immediately, Beky shared about a prophecy that had been given at the earlier POP meeting; it discussed the diabolical intention that we would feel heavy burdens and be tempted to move away from our community relationships. However, the solution to the problem was delving deeper into the relationships! I agreed that this evening for me had been the fulfillment of the prophecy. We were all very built up and impressed with how the Lord had worked mightily in the circumstances surrounding Howard’s life!
Glory to God!