Sunday, February 1, 2009
What's in a Name; Service and Miracles
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
No other name but Jesus,
No other name can save,
With Him His peace possessing,
No other good I crave,
'Tis he who heals my sorrow,
And bids my soul rejoice;
And, of, the sweetest music
Is my redeemer's voice.
by Henry V. Neal
On a Tuesday in September 1975 I had prayed the prayer of salvation. When I got up everything
was different. Oh, not the world around me, but inside me. I knew it at once. It is difficult to explain. You want to say you had to be there, it had to happen to you, then you would understand, and if you have never been there it would be difficult to grasp.
I want to go back to the "Why me?" in the first post of this confessional. I said there were those verses in Romans 1 I thought meant you could go far enough that God left you to your own devices and you had no way back. But I came to realize those verses spoke of mankind in general. Otherwise, why wasn't I lost forever? Hadn't I turned 180 degrees away from God? Hadn't I stopped seeking?
But I wondered, when I declared myself an Atheist and I began arguing with those ministers was it their faith I was trying to destroy or was I trying to find mine? Was I hoping that one of those men would say the thing proving me wrong?
It doesn't matter, God for whatever reason He had, drew me to Him, even me.
Things happened quickly afterwards. My wife and I became members of that church I said we wouldn't be back to the next week. We were soon involved up to our eyeballs. I found myself doing things I would never have thought it was in me to do, such as cold-call evangelism, being the regional publicity coordinator for a national revival campaign, speaking from the pulpit, understanding passages in the Bible which had never made sense before and in 1976 my wife and I became youth pastors at the church. That is some of the youth group in the picture as we set out to wash car windows at a shopping center. I am standing third from the left wearing sunglasses and my wife is the dark-haired lady leaning her head on my shoulder. This was a Christian Service outing. We went about washing the windows of the cars in the shopping center parking lot and leaving a tract. Sometimes someone came as we did this and offered money, which we refused. It was our policy on all Christian Service to never take money.
We were very busy those years, especially I. It takes a lot of hours to properly lead young people. (We had the junior high aged kids.) Plus I was adding to my duties at work. In 1976, I was named Systems Manager as well as being over the accounting functions. Now I was on call all the time in case the computer hit a snag. It usually hit those snags about dinner time.
I was writing again. I wrote a play which was performed by the youth group at venues such as retirement homes and other churches. I was editing a Christian magazine.
Some of our old friends left us, finding our new outlook at odds with the lifestyle we had shared with them. We made new friends. We were doing well. The Pastor talked to us about our lost children and we came to accept what had happened. Then...
Then one day in 1977 my wife says to me, "Honey, I think I'm pregnant again."
"Whoa, now, how? You said you had your tubes tied?"
Immediately we had a problem. No doctor would take her case. Not her old doctors and seemingly no new doctor. They said her history showed it was impossible. We had been fools to let this happen. It was a terrible risk and there was no hope of a successful birth. I guess they feared malpractice suits if they took her case.
But there was a Doctor who belonged to our church and he agreed to attend her. then the members of the church formed a special group to pray for us. My wife was put to bed for the term. I rearranged the living room for her, pulled the TV to within easy reach of the sofa, placed a cooler by her so she would have some cold drink and food at hand while I was at work. She was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and to bed at night.
The people at church began to stop by to help clean and especially to bring dinners for us. But mostly to pray for us.
Snow came in late February. My wife had made it into the dreaded fifth month. Then the signs came and in a blinding snow storm I drove her several miles to the hospital.
It was deja vu all over again as Yogi Berra put it. We were in a labor room with her hooked to an IV drip designed to stall off labor. There was another monitor, another beat-beat-beat and another week of waiting and expecting the usual dead end.
The doctor asked if he could inject my wife with an experimental drug, something called steroids, in hope this would strengthen the babies lungs. We said yes. After a week, they said once more any longer delay was dangerous, they had to induce labor now.
And on March 1, our baby girl was born weighing in at 5 pounds. The steroids must have worked on those lungs because she came out protesting loudly.
We named her Laurel. Many people assume this was after me, since my name comes from the same root and both Larry and Laurel mean Victory. This is not the case at all. We named her in honor of the members of Laurel Hill Bible Church who prayed constantly for her delivery. We gave her a middle name meaning "Little Christian", because Christ was now central in our lives.
My wife assured me that this time she did have her tubes tied.
Those gentle readers who have been regular followers of this Blog know God wasn't through proving what man couldn't do, He could.
One autumn day in 1980, as we walked along a chill street going to an early Christmas party, my wife says to me, says she: "Honey..."
"I think I'm pregnant again."
"But your tubes..."
"I don't think long. Maybe I'm in the second month."
A couple weeks later I am sitting in the waiting room of a hospital waiting to hear she had a miscarriage when a doctor comes out saying, "Congratulations, you have a daughter."
There was no human hand this time, no prayer circle, no laying in wait in bed, no steroids. My wife who could never have a baby and had that proved wrong now had it proved wrong medical aid was needed to do so. In a couple more years, we had a third, a son...and then she really did have her tubes tied. (More about these children next time.)
Today I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I believe the Bible is God's Word. I believe all the promises God has made and that Jesus is coming again, perhaps very, very soon. I believe anyone can be saved if God draws them to Him. I don't believe it is ever too late until you die. In September of 1975, I was 34 years old. I had been spiritually dead a long time. I was a sinner who though he was a good guy, who didn't think the things he did were sins. Now next September I will be a Christian for 34 years. Half a life of sin, half a life of Salvation, half a life of growth in the Lord to go (using Yogi Berra logic again; I know fractions better than that).
So when I got saved I never faced any troubles again. Yeah...right!
To be Continued: A Fairy-Tale Ending?