SEEING SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT
This the 7th installment of the series about the severe stroke I suffered on August 19, 2014. I am not going to restate the issues covered in the previous installments but rather will devote this one to a current development. I had intended this chapter to be written upon completion of the restoration God promised me in a dream in May of 2016 but this occurrence is so profound and meaningful I decided it deserves a mention all by itself, or did God decide and I just followed His urging? I attend a weekly Bible study led by one of my pastors/mentors, Dr. Ted Estes of Lifechanger Church in Claremore, Oklahoma. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, we were winding down the night’s session in Psalms when Pastor Ted told the group he had a word of revelation for me. He said, “while I was preparing for tonight’s lesson God told me to tell Bob that I have seen his faith and that starting tonight he will begin to see significant improvement in his condition”. The odd thing about it is that I started to stay home because I was in pain and very down mentally but something inside of me said, “you aren’t sick and you just might be glad you made the effort to go” so I got up and headed out. Pastor Ted heard from God and complied and I believe that voice in my mind was God urging me to go receive His message. Pastor Ted heard from God and obeyed and I truly believed I did so also. If either one of us had not obeyed I would not have received a very important message from God, one that has made my last week very good for me. Had I been stubborn and done it my way I would have likely missed that message entirely because I believe that God had a divine appointment for that evening only and if I missed it I would have missed the message entirely. It was very uplifting because for a week or so I had been experiencing increased pain and discouragement at my lack of progress in the healing I had been promised in a dream in May of 2016. My faith has remained strong but there are times when I struggle due to a lack of visible progress and even a seemingly loss of current ability and stamina. Every night for the last 18 months I have prayed that the next morning would be the morning of my dream. When it didn’t happen I would say, “well it isn’t today so it will be tomorrow” and would give God thanks for bringing me one day closer to my day. At times it is a struggle to keep believing but I won’t give up because I know the dream came from God and He will never abandon nor forsake me.
I went home after the meeting feeling very positive and got a good night sleep. I woke up Thursday morning with no pain and my leg feeling looser than it had at any time since the stroke. I still hobbled but was much steadier on my feet and had no pain. Several people at the Claremore Veterans Center commented that my walk seemed much steadier and faster than I had been before. I normally walk between 2.5 and 3 miles per day there while carrying out my daily duties as a volunteer but on Thursday it seemed I was much more active than usual. I didn’t have my pedometer on so I don’t know how far I walked but was very tired by the time I left at 3 pm. On Thursday nights I am the greeter at the new Celebrate Recovery in Chelsea and spent an entire hour standing at the door without sitting down, something I would not normally do. At the end of the evening, I was very tired but not in any pain as I would be normally. Friday I went back to the center for another day of serving, this time with my pedometer. I spent 7 hours, walking 3.48 miles without pain. Then, after a couple of hours rest at home went to Friday night church at Vision, walking another .48 mile for a total of 3.96 for the day and experiencing no pain at all. On Saturday I again went to the Veterans Center for a 6.75-hour shift and walked 3.37 miles, all without any pain at all. This is incredible because I worked 21 hours and walked well in excess of 8 miles in 3 days, and although I was very tired I did not have any pain from it.
On Sunday morning I got to Lifechanger Church a little earlier than usual. We have a “prayer line” at the front and I like to walk and pray before service begins. The line is 60 feet long and I made 30 round trips, praying the entire time. I pray for our nation, state, county, city, the 3 churches I belong to, the pastors, elders, and other leaders of all 3, as well as for the Veterans Center, employees, residents, and the families of all as well as a variety of people individually. I also pray for my family and myself in the process. After the service I go to CedarPoint Church for the 12:02 service and then back to Lifechanger at 6 pm for the evening service ( and made another 15 round trips on the prayer line). Sunday I covered 3.8 miles on a day that I normally walk very little, with no adverse effect on my leg or back. Several people noticed and commented on my steady and brisk gait at church Sunday. As I begin this on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 I noticed that today I spent 7 hours at the center, walking 4 miles, much over my typical distance. I am also a greeter at the CedarPoint Church Celebrate Recovery on Monday nights and covered an additional 1.65 miles. I typically arrive 90 minutes before service to be at the door for the early arrivals, mainly the worship and leadership teams. I have a chair I can sit in during slack times but spent very little time sitting tonight as I felt real well in spite of my very active day. My right shoulder is pretty sore from pushing the cart around at the Veterans Center this morning and pushing the church door open against a strong NW wind this evening but there is no pain in my left hip, leg, or foot as I would normally experience after the day I have had. When Pastor Ted gave me the word Wednesday night I expected something different, not really sure what, but maybe the limp would be gone, but I still limp. It hit me after I got home from CR how much I had done since Wednesday night and how there is no pain in my hip, leg, or foot so I am beginning to see how God intends to work this out. I may still wake up tomorrow totally restored but I may just be stronger, steadier, and able to accomplish more with the current state. Whatever the case I am going to stop writing for the night, give God thanks for the last 5 days, and get some sleep so I can go again tomorrow. I don’t know yet how God is going to accomplish His promise but I know He IS going to accomplish it, in His time and according to His will, all I have to do is comply, and I will do so. Thank You, Jesus, for all You have done for me and for all You will do in the future. It is almost midnight so I am done for now.
As I renew working on this it is 3:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, and I just got home from the Veterans Center. Last night after I went to bed just after midnight I began having muscle spasms in my left leg and foot, the one affected by the stroke. I didn’t sleep very well and woke up this morning with the pain I had grown accustomed to having. I have a pressure wrap that goes around the calf that hugs a pressure point to relieve back pain and after about an hour noticed the pain diminishing rapidly. I got to the Veterans Center and began my daily routine minus the pain as it was completely gone by the end of the first 2 hours. I spent 6.5 hours there today, walking 4.13 miles and sitting very little when I would normally rest. I am very tired and weak from exertion but not in any pain other than the right shoulder. It might not seem like much improvement on the surface but when I think about how much I have walked and how much more time than usual I am standing I am beyond thrilled at the improvement I have seen in just 6 days. Oh, I am very tired and my leg and foot are trying to cramp but with what I have put them through I would say that the significant improvement has indeed manifested itself, as God said it would happen. I still have a long row to hoe but this improvement is very encouraging and I firmly believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what God meant when He spoke to Pastor Ted. I had a thought hit me this morning that I am running a marathon, not a sprint, a marathon of hurdles. For any not familiar with track and field competitions, there are races called “hurdles” where runners have obstacles in their path at set intervals that they have to leap over without knocking them over or breaking their stride. If they lose stride they risk missing the next obstacle or having to slow down to regain their stride. Either one of those put them behind in the race. If they knock the obstacle over they are penalized so many seconds for each one they knock over, which is added onto their completion time. I feel like God has just lifted me over a hurdle and set me down in perfect stride. I know that when I approach the next obstacle He will lift me over it, and so on until my race is done and restoration is complete. All I have to do is to keep running and place my faith in Him, as I have done the entire 38 months I have been in this marathon. I serve a mighty God, a loving God, a merciful God who wants me to succeed and is with me every step of the way. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for me, partly for the salvation of my eternal soul and partly to provide for times like this when I need healing and encouraging. While I am running this race I am trying to show others that faith and perseverance in the face of obstacles is the way to win the race and defeat the enemy, in this case, Satan, who is still trying to defeat me but is way behind because my eyes are on Jesus and that is a winning tactic. I am stopping now to get to the men’s group Bible study through CedarPoint Church that I attend every Tuesday evening but will be back either this evening or tomorrow for further updates on my situation.
It is now 3:30 on Wednesday, Oct. 25. I spent another 6.5 hours at the Veterans center, covering 3.8 miles in my daily duties. I am tired but not hurting after my day. Tonight I am again going to the Bible study. I want to let those there know about the marvelous week I have had benefits from hearing God’s message last week. He had an encouraging word for me then and I want everyone who heard it to know how much it blessed me. I am still pumped up mentally from last Wednesday night, still very encouraged from God’s message to me. It is now 10 pm. I just got out of the shower and am finishing this so I can post it tomorrow afternoon. Everyone at the Bible study was happy to hear what I had to say about my week and prayed at the end for even more good news in the future. I had a total of 4.42 miles with 6.5 hours at the Veterans Center. I am tired but the hip, leg, and foot have no pain, thank You, Jesus.
Another of my pastors, Don Couch of Vision often says, “one word from God can change your life” and I believe the word from last week is one that will change my life. God has heard my prayers, seen my faith, and related that to me so as to encourage me. I have never doubted that He has heard me as I have seen past prayers answered though not on this grand a scale. My other pastor, Rick Burke of CedarPoint often talks about having “patient endurance” in order to wait on God. I can endure but the patience part is where I struggle. I have never been long on patience but I am learning through this.
Don’t ever let anyone convince you that faith and prayer are a waste because they most definitely work!!!!! As I stated earlier, I still have to keep up my end, which entails believing, praying, and doing all I can to help myself. Difficult times will still come but God will get me through them. Last Sunday, Oct. 22, Pastors Rick and Ted both had sermons about doing things God’s way. They approached it using different verses and from different angles but the basic message was the same. If we do God’s work God’s way we will succeed beyond our expectations because God will do the heavy lifting for us. I am seeing this more and more as I walk through my health problem. One day, don’t know which one, I will wake totally restored to pre-stroke status. I am looking forward to that day but until then I will serve and praise Him to the best of my ability knowing that He has me in the palm of His hand loving me, healing me, and getting me through the hard parts of life.
I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.
October 26, 2017