First Draft: Check back for additions and revisions. Originated 6/23/10. 6/25/10 rev. 2.
Ever seen a Miracle? I ARE one
Ten days ago an acquaintance, obviously frustrated with what he had been taught in his church, wrote to ask me if I had ever seen a real miracle. I replied that I hadn't. Most of the miraculous events I have ever seen have been gradual, over time. No, I could not recall ever seeing a sudden, on the spot miracle up close.
Now, I ARE one!
Twenty odd years ago while doing some ground penetrating radar searches in Southern New Mexico, I fell on my left knee while leaping and bounding over a field of jagged lava. The pain was quite intense at the time but I ignored it. Bad idea. Arthritis gradually set in and slowly worsened over time.
Several years later while hiking in the hills above Silicon Valley, I felt (and heard) a tendon in my ankle snap. No pain, just a weird sensation. Gradually my left ankle lost rotational support and then more arthritis set in. The opposite leg compensated and sympathized. By about 5 years ago I had lot of bad arthritis, and my body was a bit lopsided.
A very fine NSAID pain pill from my doctor kept me quite comfortable -- until two years ago this month. In June 2008 I found myself in the hospital from a blood clot in my right leg (DVT). I'd had a pulmonary embolism. (This sort of event is fairly common and often kills a person right on the spot). Now I had to switch arthritis pain meds. For safety I was now on blood thinner and the only real option was the opiate oxycontin. As a supplement (since I don't like pain), the doctor gave me ultram (aka tramadol) to be used as needed.
Two years elapsed. I had vague symptoms such as running out of energy fast, but I assumed this was just part of the normal aging process. My doctor said he thought I had ten more good years ahead, but I did not believe him.
Then a fortnight or so ago, out of the blue, everything went wrong fast. I began to get truly horrific withdrawal symptoms, apparently from tramadol. I woke up sweating, experiencing leg cramps, feeling apathetic, sleeping a lot but not getting rested, all for no apparent reason. I was constantly fatigued and lacking in energy even for the simplest tasks. My mind was really dull. I was getting only crumbs and scraps of new insights and life out of the Bible.
Long story short, these worrisome symptoms then escalated about a week ago. Insomnia--four straight nights with zero sleep, and anxiety screaming in my brain without a break. I started praying constantly without stopping, and I asked everyone around me to pray for me. How could any of them know the urgency I felt? The heavens above me seemed like solid brass (Deut. 28:23). A trip to the ER failed to get me any real help. They could not help and just sent me home! I called the recommended best drug detox doctors in Silicon Valley only to find that they were booked solid until mid-July. From all I had read, (see Google), a person should never go cold turkey from either of these very dangerous drugs, and then only come down under a doctors' supervision. The detox process was said to take months. I knew I could not bear another day of such intense anxiety, especially with no sleep at all.
Now my prayers really became desperate and urgent. Time was out of joint, what seemed hours was actually only a few minutes. I begged God to take me home to heaven. Yet apparently I had appealed to the highest power above all powers. and He was silent. This was like being in hell without being in hell. The door to heaven was apparently locked, nor could I go back to my normal life on earth. (Evidently one can't go in until the appointed time. "It is APPOINTED for man but once to die, and after that the judgment).
I begged the Lord to be gentle. I believe He replied, "I am being as gentle as I can." Searching for an analogy to what was happening I was drawn to Hebrews 12:
You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (Hebrews 12:4-15)
I don't mean to imply for a moment that all Christians ever go through hellish experiences like mine. What I was going through was apparently not punishment for sin, but just more old fashioned sanctification. None of us gets into heaven "unsanctified!" I believe holiness can be equated with wholeness -- and holiness is not optional for living in heaven.
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
I'll add more later but suffice it to say I reached a point of total despair last Saturday evening. I felt as near as was possible to what it must be like being in hell. I had found no way to sleep in four days. If I lived I'd detox one small step at a time, for months. In complete despair, I took a sleeping pill and pulled up a pillow.
Instantly I fell asleep. Everything went blank.
Next morning, perhaps 8 hours later, I was wide awake, refreshed, alert, feeling like a new man. No symptoms remaining! Three full days now back to normal. But what I am experiencing now is not the normal I have been living with for two years. The fog in my brain was gone! I was an absolute miracle. Only Jesus Christ could have pulled this off. There was no other explanation.
"Streams of mercy, never ceasing. Call for songs of loudest praise."
My dear friend David, a Christian brother I've known for 20 years, is a former ER nurse who was with me a good part of the time last week. David wrote the following yesterday to mutual friends of ours:
The last time we met for [Bible study] via skype, Lambert was beginning what was to be perhaps one of the most painfully difficult and tedious times of his life. I've known Lambert for over 20 years. For him to miss a bible study we all know something is very, very serious. After that study I went to his home and visited with him for a few hours and he seemed anxious. Because of the type of work I now do I was afforded, via Jesus' providence, several occasions to check in on him that next week. He seemed to be getting worse throughout the week. Things got even worse despite his visit to the ER on Wednesday evening. I was most concerned for him. One of Lambert's roommates, Chris (Gonzo) and I went to an air show on Saturday but before we left Lambert asked us all to pray over him -- which we did. All I could think of praying for was his strength and some rest and patience to endure the long, tedious, arduous withdrawal period (I've gone thru it myself and it's perhaps as close to hell as one can ever get without actually going there).
More symptoms cropped up in Lambert's life while Chris and I were at the show. I feared that Lambert might be approaching something so serious that he'd need hospitalization. But he continued to pray. I was most concerned for him all Saturday night. From my own personal experiences with narcotic addiction/withdrawal, and from my own professional experience, my friend might well die that night.
Yet when I got home from church Sunday early afternoon to read his emails I was utterly shocked! I was immediately full of surprise (almost to disbelief) as if I was in a dream and would soon awaken only to find the dream shattered and me being forced to return to the stark reality of how ill my dear friend still was. But no....he was completely healed! I had to go to his home that afternoon to see for myself and sure enough he was his old self ...the brother I've known him to be, before his mind and body was hijacked by disease and infirmity and the cloudy thinking that always accompanies long term narcotic use. (Although he was not addicted his body had become very, very dependent on those powerful drugs). At his home on Sunday I found a man not in pain, not sick but utterly set free from all the anxieties and symptoms he'd been wrestling with over the past 4 days or so. I couldn't believe it! It took me about 3 weeks to withdraw from narcotics. Lambert's recovery is indeed a true, honest miracle!
Friends, in addition to just these surface details, I was fully conscious during my entire experience with our Lord, outside of time. I have volumes of fresh new insights to write down, analyze and integrate -- a wealth of "wondrous" things I learned from our Lord Jesus. One might put them in the category, "the fellowship of Christ's sufferings." God willing, I'll edit and add to this short interim report as our Lord permits.
In a few weeks, God willing, I plan to give a more complete report at my church. I'll record that meeting and post it on my web site because, paradoxically I saw much good news in what I experienced about our God on my trip to the outskirts of Hades last week.
Many older folks are in trouble with dangerous, powerful prescription drugs these days, as I was. Illicit drug use is rampant everywhere now--I believe I now know a bit about what that must feel like.
Anyone, anywhere, can call out to the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter their circumstances. "Jesus saves" is still a major plank in the platform of King Jesus who will soon be back to take charge right here on earth. Our enemy Satan, the usurper, the present god of the age, lies, deceives, blinds, warps and destroys. We are no match when taking on the "god of this world," but Jesus is.
No one gets away with anything in this universe. God is Just as well as Holy. Only the "works" of Christ through His people have any lasting value. All the rest will be burned up.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17)
Repentance must go hand and hand with knowing Jesus. This is an individual task, no one can do it for you. Cherubim with flaming swords bar the gates back into Paradise. That gate is the cross. There is no reason for you to be left behind, but there is no escape from the world until God opens the gates and calls us home, either one at a time or all together at the rapture. Those who belong to Jesus are a small remnant. Don't be misled by large numbers of merely "religious" persons who think they are God's kids --they may not be. (Note how the Sermon on the Mount closes). I can see that we may think we need no repentance but we can be self-deceived. Start confessing to the Lord any minor peccadilloes you see on the surface of your life and let God peel them back one way one. You'll probably soon see, as I have, that layers of more serious issues lie half buried, clogging the channels the Spirit would like to flowing through, as in "streams of living water."
We Christians are, I feel certain, right on the verge of the scheduled time of the departure of the true church. Any moment now, the Bride of Christ will leave to be with her Lord and Groom. The symbol of the "bride" speaks of inner intimacy and purity, it's not about outward appearance, and not about "performance." I believe the church in America is far far from being ready for the wedding day.
Further, we are most likely living in the age of the last of the seven churches described in the Book of the Revelation. Jesus has no commendation for Laodicea but he offers hope to the small believing remnant in that assembly. (Check my web site for more about this later. I believe the long overdue judgment of America is now beginning to unfold. This is a time or all of us to start praying, then repenting, then praying again, then fixing relationships that are broken and settling old accounts. "Pray without ceasing." We American Christians are fake and phony for the most part. We can't hide form God. No one can! He will take us safely into His sheepfold if we call on him from our hearts and repent down to bedrock. You'll know it when you've done your homework.
Isaiah said, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 1:18-20)
1. I found I could identity with much of what T. Austin-Sparks said in The Fellowship of His Sufferings, http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000690.html. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; 2 Corinthians 6:8-13; 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
Comments: Ted Wise has been a very special friend of mine for more than 40 years. He has "suffered many things from many physicians" for years. Ted wrote me today saying, "You wrote, 'Next morning, perhaps 8 hours later, I was wide awake, refreshed, alert, feeling like a new man. No symptoms remaining! Three full days now back to normal. But what I am experiencing now is not the normal I have been living with for two years. The fog in my brain was gone! I was an absolute miracle. Only Jesus Christ could have pulled this off. There was no other explanation.'
Are you saying no symptoms of withdrawal or no symptoms of withdrawal and your various inflamed joints, muscles, tendons, etc.? I hope you mean your chronic pain is healed too. Over the years my doctors have occasionally prescribed treatment that ended with me on a trip to the ER. May God give you the wisdom and grace to respond to the email you and the Paracleteforum will surely receive. --"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) --TED.
I replied to Ted, "As usual you have sent excellent advice for me and anyone who happens to read my remarks, to keep communication in reasonable balance! You have always played this role in my life ever since we went to India and Germany and worked together at PBC.
The real 'miracle' one week ago involved total withdrawal from tramadol (ultram). The doctors all claim this takes months and should be undertaken only in small steps under medical supervision, never cold turkey.
I am still on oxycontin which holds the arthritis pain down to a reasonable level. The use of tramadol over two years' time had dulled my mind greatly and sapped my energy. I had not expected such a fine big bonus reward for stopping tramadol. My friend David (the former ER nurse) says these narcotics often dull the brain and cause lethargy and apathy.
I still have to eat right and sleep and not take on too much. My daily arthritis pain is not pleasant, but it is bearable. My primary care physician is tracking down a pain specialist to help me stay on track with the best possible meds, starting right away. I would love to stop Oxy, too, but for the moment that does not seem possible.
Your email reminds me to pray for you with more regularity and diligence. I can't begin to imagine the pain you live with day after day and year after year. More than likely your experience, with all manner of meds, and every kind of doctor over years now means you know far more than I do about all this pharmakeia.
Just a week ago I felt like I was hanging over what seemed like the pit of hell, in horrific mental pain that would not go away. Neither could I sleep. Time slowed down. I was in complete despair seeing no way out. The overnight change brought about by Jesus Himself was so amazing I am still reeling with thanks to God and experiencing much joy." --Lambert
June 23, 2010