I was raised in a God-fearing,
Christian home. My father was a deacon in our Baptist church, and my
mother headed up the beginners Sunday school department for 37 years
and trained pre-school teachers at the state association level. I was
taught that Jesus died for my sins. And that was it!
For a long time, I felt there was something more to
being a Christian, but I could never find out what it was. Eventually,
I decided if salvation was all there was to it, I had it, I was going
to heaven, so I'd go on along my merry way. I lived the life of a
prodigal son for many years. Deep down inside, I still knew there had
to be something more, and I still wanted it, but I was never able to
connect with anyone who could tell me what it was that I was missing in
my life. I was too stubborn and ornery to shut up and listen to God.
Before I could learn to listen, I had to be brokenand ground into dust.
I was either going to be formed into something usable, or I would be
thrown into the slag pile as useless to the Master.
The beginning of my listening to God
began in the summer of 2002 with a trip to South Dakota, where I had
lived many years ago. I didn't really have a good reason for going back
there. I just felt like I had to go. I felt like I was being drawn
there. My wife has passed away earlier in the year following a brief
bout with leukemia, so I went alone. On that trip, a couple of things
happened that opened my ears and my mind. The first was what I call a
vision. I didn't understand it because I had never had a wide-awake
vision like that before.
I was driving into Custer, South
Dakota, where I had served in a pastoral role in a small mission church
in the mid-1960s. I passed by a building off to the side of the road
that I had seen many times before. I remember at one time it was a
woodworking shop, but this time it was different. Although I had not
stopped or left my truck, I found myself suddenly inside the building.
I saw a man who appeared to be a Potter bending over and scraping up a
powdery substance off the floor and placing it into a bowl. I asked Him
what He was doing; it was not how I thought clay was made.
The Potter answered and said, "I'm
remaking you." I almost asked Him to repeat His statement when it
dawned on me that this Potter was God. He said, "I'm taking what
has been broken, trodden down and ground into dust, that is of no use
in the form it is in, and I'm going to remake it, if you are
willing." I had no choice but to say, "You are the Potter,
and I am the clay."
He poured a liquid substance into the
powder. He placed it on the wheel and began to shape it into the form
of a vessel. He said, "I'm adding My love to this vessel, so that
you will know how to love more deeply. I'm adding My compassion so that
you can be more compassionate. I'm taking away some of your strengths
so that you will depend on Me for strength. I'm taking away some of
your weaknesses so that, through My power, you and others will always
know that I AM."
I saw in the corner a pile of broken
vessels that He called the slag pile. He said, "This is the
destiny of those who will not do my will. I will form you into a vessel
which I can use. I will fill you, and You will never be empty. You will
always be full to overflowing as long as you are in my will." As I
watched Him work, He began forming two spouts on the vessel He was
forming, which I thought was a strange-looking pot.
I heard His words. I saw the pile of
discards, and I knew that I was being given my final opportunity to
serve Him. This vision happened in a matter of moments, but I knew that
I had been in the presence of God.
It was Wednesday, and I went to prayer
meeting that night at the church where I had served so long ago. It was
a small Southern Baptist church, but different from any I had ever been
in. There were musical instruments on the platform—drums and
guitars—things one just doesn't see on the platform in a typical
Baptist church in North Carolina. My first clue had been a sign above
the door as I entered that read, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
are Welcome Here.” To say I was intrigued would be an
understatement. As the praise and worship began, the presence of the
Holy Spirit permeated the room. It was a feeling I had not experienced
in a very long time.
When the prayer time began, the pastor
said there was a young man there who had injured his shoulder on the
job and had not been able to work. Instead of just praying for the
young man, the pastor told him to come to the front. He asked those who
would pray for his healing to come, and he summoned me. Knowing nothing
about healing, I stepped forward with the other people. The pastor
anointed him with oil, and we began to pray that God would heal his
I prayed for the first time in my life
without any doubt that the prayer would be answered. When the prayer
was over, he had full use of his arm and shoulder. This was my first
experience of witnessing a healing and being totally in the Spirit, and
it was the beginning of my own faith for healing.
After the experience in South Dakota, I
could see that there was more to being a Christian than I had been
taught, more than Jesus' saving grace on the cross for our sins. This
revelation is what I had been hungering for my whole life.
I left Custer on Thursday following
that meeting and experienced another of God’s miracles during a
terrible rain storm in Iowa. The darkness and rain combined made seeing
the road almost impossible. I knew that I needed to turn onto a
different road, but I could see nothing in front of my headlights but
rain. I began talking to God, telling Him that I wasn’t sure
where I was and that I couldn’t see where I needed to go, and I
needed help. The exchange came up suddenly, and all I could see were
the many reflectors on the road glaring in my eyes and seemingly going
in every direction. I had no idea where I was to go and realized I was
going too fast to make a turn. I said, “Well, God, I sure need
your help.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, it was as
if my truck was lifted and placed in the lane I need to be in. I know
that I could not have negotiated the exit on my own because I could not
see anything clearly. It felt as if there was an extra pair of hands on
my steering wheel that night. I began to praise God and thank Him for
keeping me from harm and keeping my truck on the road. As I thanked
Him, it suddenly stopped raining, and I could see the road once again.
I give God the praise and glory for another miracle in my life. This
was just the beginning of a chain of miraculous events and a process of
I found that surrender does not come
without a price. It seems that when a person is seeking God’s
will in their life that the enemy (satan) will do everything possible
to put a stop to it. Shortly after my surrender, I began to have
stiffness in my shoulders, arms, hands, and legs. It became so painful
that I went to my doctor to see what was wrong. I had attributed it to
driving almost 3,500 miles in less than two weeks.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid
arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. My health declined
rapidly. I lost over 50 pounds in a matter of six to seven weeks. I was
six-foot, two-inches tall, and I was down to 125 pounds—a
skeleton with skin stretched over it. I could no longer button a shirt.
Dressing for church took over an hour, and I could only manage
pull-over clothing such as sweaters. The pain and stiffness were
increasing daily. Soon, I could barely manage the stairs into my condo,
and driving my truck with a clutch and shifting gears became
I was pleading with God to relieve the
pain. At this point, I had not learned how to pray in faith. I was
still praying, “if it be Your will.” I had not come to the
understanding that Jesus bore stripes on His back for my healing two
thousand years ago when He went to the cross. I did not know that my
healing was already accomplished on God’s part, and it was mine
to receive it by faith.
My daughter Erin did what she could to
help, but with two small children and no car, it was an impossible
situation. I had no other close family, and I was needing full-time
It was at this point that I called on
Nancy for help, the lady who was to become my helpmeet and life
partner. Nancy and I had been high school classmates, and she had often
prayed with me and encouraged me during my late wife’s illness.
Almost daily, she would email Bible scriptures to me that were
strengthening and faith-building. She lived in another state. I knew
that most of Nancy’s work was done via the internet, so where she
lived would not be an issue for her. I also knew that her business had
been hit hard by 9/11, as had most businesses in her field, and that
she had been forced to move in her her daughter, a less than perfect
situation. Nancy was a book editor and graphic designer. We agreed that
if I had DSL put in, she would come.
She arrived at my home with the purpose
of helping me manage day-to-day activities and driving. But I know that
she was sent by God to be more than a caregiver for a person who was
fast becoming an invalid.
Nancy began to teach me about faith and
how to pray effectively. She brought me several books on healing, and
we would talk about what I had read. I would pray for wisdom and
understanding to comprehend what I was reading and what Nancy was
sharing with me. Morning after morning and night after night, we read
the Word of God together, often stopping to discuss a point, a
principle, or a word.
There seemed to be so many
unexplainable issues and roadblocks to whatever I attempted to do that
we came to believe there was some demonic oppression in my life. Nancy
suggested that maybe I needed to see someone who was
“gifted” in deliverance. Not knowing anyone in my area, she
contacted Pastor Jim Hodgin in Atlanta and explained to him what I had
been going through.