Sunday, June 22, 2008

Faith That Makes Your Heart Sing

“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:26-34)

This morning as Johnny and I woke up we listened to the birds chirping gleefully, as they stretched their wings to greet the morning sunrise. My heart felt glad as I watched Johnny's eyes flutter open. My first words were "Thank You Lord for waking me up to another day of loving Johnny!" These mornings of late have been so much more special because I savor every moment I spend with Johnny.

Usually I sneak downstairs to get my prayer time in before the world and all its responsibilites of daily living hit. Johnny apologized as he came down the stairs right behind me, "I'm sorry if I interfered with your prayer time." I told him not to worry. Life was becoming a "living prayer" lately and it felt good to feel that joy of the Holy Spirit alive and well, despite many trying circumstances.

Probably not by coincidence, as I groped through my stacks of books waiting beside me at my coffee table, I came across the Baptist Hymnal given to my by a dear friend, Frances Watson. I just love hymnals! The poetry contained within is from the hearts of ordinary people. Two of my favorite hymns were written around 1870 and it fascinates me that a century and a half later, we see people going through the same human struggles. One hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour" was written by a housewife doing her daily chores. The other "It Is Well With My Soul" was written by a Chicago lawyer who had lost everything in the great "Chicago fire" right before he lost his daughters at sea while on a pleasure voyage. Yet he could travel with his wife to the location at sea where they drowned and penn those mighty words.

I felt so inspired I decided to just belt out those and a couple more hymns hoping I wouldn't bother Johnny too much as he read his morning paper in the den. Before I knew it he came rushing in the living room. "That's it!" he exclaimed. "That's the spirit I was waiting for! Get the Holy Water!"

I laughed. The night before I asked him if he was ready for me to anoint him with the Holy Water that Donna and Richard Carter had brought us from the Holy Land. He told me to wait until I felt that deep spiritual connection with God because he didn't want to waste something holy. I guess the sound of me singing did the trick. He was ready to receive the healing!

So I told him to lay down on the couch and I kneeled beside him. I find it interesting that the cancer lays right over his heart. I laid my hands over his heart and moved them in circles of love over his left chest. I told him I had read that the most effective prayer that got results was praying in praise and thanks. So I recited my prayer of thanks I created and memorized and I was so glad I had memorized it. It made me realize the importance of my simple act of obedience (going to the trouble of memorizing it) was paying off at a precious moment. (You will see the prayer in one of my previous blog entries.)

Next I sprinkled the water on my palm and rubbed it into his heart area while I prayed aloud for "Thy will not my will" to be done but requesting if it be His will - to destroy the cancer in a million pieces - and to refresh and restore Johnny to become a strong vessel to be used by God. I repeated the many promises of the Lord that what we decreed would be established, that no power can stand against prayer, that if we believe we will receive, that nothing is impossible for God, and that the victory that has overcome the world is our faith.

Then I asked God to use me as a healing vessel to blow the breath of life on Johnny's heart as I blew the Holy Water dry on his chest. Now it is up to Him and I accept His will in all things.

Later this morning I was reading about Paul and Silas after they had been beaten and thrown in prison because they exorcised a demon out of a young girl who could foretell the future. Her parents were angry with the two because they had also removed income from the family! Yet that night at midnight there was Paul and Silas just singing their hearts out to the Lord. Before you knew it an earthquake thundered, the prison doors flew open and all the prisoners who heard them singing were freed and the jailer saved!

So it made me smile to think of how singing to the Lord this morning stirred Johnny's heart to a moment of faith and trusting in God. It made a difference to Paul and Silas and the notes of music can transcend centuries and lead to miracles even today! Thanks again to all of you who continue to call, write, and visit and keep us encouraged to stand on our faith. It awes me how the Christian spirit rallies to unite behind a call to prayer for a friend AND even for one some have never met. That is God in action and proof that he uses us all to be angels to one another in time of need. Praise God! Jesus is Lord.


Chip said...

Reading in silent awe... I understand Johnny's statement of wanting to wait to feel 'connected'. I struggled with this in early sobriety, and still struggle (although a different feels the same nevertheless). When I was approached by the 3rd Step, which states "Made a decision to turn my Will and Life over to the care of God as I understand Him"....I was searching for something tangible... a sense of 'feeling'... that I thought I must have. And I was told that we must approach God as children... and that set the stage. I can remember the difficulty I had with approaching my Father, (the Commander of course) because I never felt really connected. I felt more of a dissapointment because of the trouble that I had caused to my parents (well, I was judging that on my view of my 'perfect' sister Rene and 'perfect' brother Jeff) I was always looking at my Father's shoes...not his eyes. I rebelled because of these feelings....and was crushed by alcoholism...and at the age of 32...was confronted with the Big Book of AA, that stated "...but it is with our twisted relations with family, friends, and family that many of us have suffered the most...the primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a TRUE PARTNERSHIP with another human being..."
And in the process of watching others recover....just like watching You and Johnny and Scarlett go thru this Battle...that we are inspired to move forward.
I didn't need to feel it...and then do it...I needed to do it..and then feel it......

YOU GO JOHNNY....pedal to the floor.

Teresa said...

I came upon your blog today after coming upon your daughter's blog. I am a photographer, but for years I was a church choir director. Your story of the events from today really touched my heart...I love the poetry from hymns, too, and have often relied on the words of hymns at times when I just couldn't find the right words to pray. God's love is shown to us in so many ways...I'm so happy for you both today, and please know I'm praying for you.

robin said...

I was just moved to tears reading your entry today, as you know in the active process of watching mama die, it seems effortless to ask for "your will" to be done, than RELY Jesus's will to be done!
talk about feeling helpless, so I picked up her prayer book and just started reading to her, then I picked up Grandma Ruby's Bible and started reading the Psalms, I felt a peace just come over me and saw mama's body just relax, God is good, ALL THE TIME!
JOHNNY,if anyone is a vessel, your wife is the best vessel, and the survivors circle is staight ahead! my love to you both!!

Elizabeth Bowdren Photography said...

I am catching up on this blog after days of not being on the internet and I am always, ALWAYS amazed by your gift of writing and your gift of relaying God's message of pure love to us. You have such a beautiful insight to faith and of believing in our loving graceful God no matter the tornado surrounding you! You're magnificent Aunt Rene! I DO believe in miracles! I DO have faith in God's healing for Uncle Johnny!! And I am so excited to hear of the miracle and transformation the annointing water will have KNOWING you both used it in utter faith in His deliverance! I love you both so much!

Shari Collins said...

Dear Johnny: I have been reading your journel. Everytime I try to write a comment my fingers freeze. I have so much I want to write but I just don't know how to put it all into words. Tonight as I take deep breaths to hold back the tears, I will try and share some of what I feel inside. If things don't come out right I'm sorry.
Johnny you are a very special man to me. I'm so sorry that it took you getting sick to make me finally tell you. I thank you so much for the years of work you gave my husband. It's because of you that Ralph and I were able to buy this house that we are in 7 years ago. Before Ralph came to work for you we struggled a lot to make ends me. I thank you so much for keeping Ralph working as long as you did. I know there were times when work was slow but you found Ralph something to do so he could bring home a pay check. I thank you for all the years that you gave Ralph the extra money so my family would have a good Christmas. Ralph probably never would have left you on his own. I'm thankful that you had to let him go when you did. God knew that I needed medical help and my time was clicking down to get it. I had no time to wait. If Ralph had not returned to the military when he did I would have died. Thanks to the Army I am getting the best medical care possible and I'm healthier then I have been in years. As I read todays journel, I am so ashamed of myself. As I read of the love between you and Rene, I know that kind of love only comes from above. I wish I could write that I'm standing by Ralph all the way while he is away at school. I have tried to be strong but lately I stay mad because he is in another state. I want him here with me all the time and if I can't have that then I just pull away. I believe I read where you asked people to send prayer request to you. Well, I ask that you pray that I can be the kind of wife to Ralph as Rene is to you.
Since Ralph is away, Anita who is 8 years old now, sleeps with me. Every night we hold hands and pray. We take turns on who prays. Tonight was her turn. Johnny don't give up. You have an 8 year old that calls on angels for you. Tonight as Anita prayed, my heart melted. She remembered as she does EVERY night to pray for you, Rene and Scarlet. She doesn't just pray "God please help them". She calls each of you by name and ask God to do something special for each of you. She knows the pain of loss. She was just 5 when my son passed away and the following year his Dad better known to her as Uncle David also passed away. So, when she prays for you and your family she pours her entire heart out to the Lord.
I feel so helpless. I wish there where something special I could do or say to make your life all better. Rene was such a blessing to me after I loss my son. I sat on the back porch and drank to try and dull the pain. Rene never gave up on me and I'm so thankful to write that because of her continued prayers and others, I have been alcohol and cigarette free since March 21st. I know there is power in prayer. I'm living proof. I would have NEVER given up drinking on my own. I loved it. I thought it helped me. It's true you can't help someone who doesn't want help but, God can help them. I give Him all the glory and praise for taking the desire away.
I didn't mean to write so much and as usual I didn't word things like I wanted to. Rene is the one that when she writes, love just flows from her fingers.
So, in closing, Johnny again I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for my family. You will continue to remain in our thoughts and prayers.
In Christ Love:
Shari Collins

Cynthia said...

Oh Rene you are an amazing woman.
You give us all such hope. Much love Cynthia Bohannon