Before I went to surgery, I had an experience un-like any other which I have ever had in my life. Yes, I have received re-assurance and guidance in my spiritual life through dreams in the past - but this dream was very unusual. It was just before waking at 5:30a.m. when I saw in a dream as tho there was a framed picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. This picture caught (more like grabbed) my attention and I could not look away from it. As I stared at it, I realized that I have seen this picture of Jesus before. It's of him, sitting on a rock or boulder in the garden with his right shoulder slightly turned outward. His robe of white was covered by another of royal blue, and then another of crimson/purple as the outer garment. His beard and hair were black. The more I focused on this picture the more vivid the colors became ... until He turned and looked me directly in the face and said (without any drama, without any fan-fare, and in a soft but confident voice) "I'm healing you."
Oh, I cannot explain to you the power of that moment! I found my hands coming up out of the covers and myself waking up ... realizing that I had a face-wide grin on my face, smiling ear to ear in the darkness as I heard myself saying, "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!"
HAVE I JOINED THE CRAZY CLUB?
At first I had decided that I would not share this dream because it sounds like a religious fanatic. I have heard far too many of them in my ministerial career. Another thing - I felt that the moment was so sacred that I did not want it to be scoffed at. However, as Frances and I were sitting at the table after breakfast, I felt that I should tell my wife about this dream, As I was telling her the dream, searching for the right words to explain it, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to weep un-controllably. She encouraged me to share this dream with our children when they came to our house before the surgery. After telling them the dream as best I could, through waves of emotion, I said to them: "Now. Understand ... the Lord can heal me before the doctor does surgery. Then, again, he may be saying that he is getting ready to heal me through the surgery. But it may be that He is getting ready to give me the ultimate healing which would be that he takes me home to Heaven to live with Him. I want you children to know that if that is what God wants for me - I am ready!"
|Not the exact picture I saw in my dream, but as near as I can find|
I was wheeled into surgery at 6:15a.m. and into my room at 1:04p.m. with visitors allowed into the room almost immediately. I knew them, conversed lucidly with them all, and remembered practically everything but the actual surgery. Over the 50 plus years I've served as a Pastor visiting patients in the hospital after surgery - all of them that I can remember were at first a little groggy. I was not groggy or sleepy in the least. Next morning I ate a big bowl full of grits and butter and apple-sauce and drank an Ensure while still attached to the I.V. drip. I only sufferred the feeling of nausea once - and that was "dry heaves" before I ate any food. That afternoon I was up and pushing the stand that held the two medical "drips" up and down the hall. I was asked by the nurses often if I needed a pain pill. I took very little pain medication beside that which was going into the blood-stream through the I.V. tube. On Thursday I was able to put on my regular pajamas and walk the halls more freely. One of the nurses said, "Looks like you are trying to run a 5K marathon race."
November 22, the Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Portera, had removed three cancerous tumors (laproscopically) from my small and large intestines. On Friday, the 25th, I was sent home from the hospital on a liquid diet - which quickly gave way to a soft food diet. On Friday, December 9th, (just two weeks after being discharged from the hospital) I drove myself the 30 miles (one way) to see the surgeon for my first check-up. I told him that for the last week I have been walking on the tread-mill for 20 minutes per day and racking up .7 miles in that short walk. Because of my apparent rapid recovery to date, he said, "You may now eat whatever you want to, and do whatever you feel like doing! Just remember to back off if you start to feel pain in the abdominal area." However he wanted me to see the "Medical Oncologist", who will lay out a plan for chemo-therapy because the lab reported micro-scopic amounts of cancer found in the lymph-nodes. (One of 22 lymph nodes examined showed cancer.) I am to see this doctor on December 22nd.
Yesterday, I drove myself to Tellico Plains (48 miles from here) where I attend church. I normally teach a Sunday School class there every week - but did not try to teach yesterday. We have a wonderful couple (William and Evelyn Wright) who agreed to take that class while I recover. I did put on the Velcro belt around my surgical wounds which helped me a lot, but I was tired when I arrived back home. However, today, December 12, I took Frances to the Post Office, to Olive Garden for lunch and then Christmas shopping at Belks and at Bed, Bath and Beyond! I still feel good!
My wife was praying and was with me, refusing to leave the hospital until I did. I have had so many friends in many different places praying for me. Calls, Cards, Notes, E-mails, and personal visits have been so encouraging. But - I have to say - Jesus words spoken directly to me ("I'm healing you.") have been most powerful in keeping my attitude positive. I thank you again for praying for me and believing with me.