The Formula: Part Two

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I arrived to the cabin in the middle of nowhere on a Thursday evening, settled in, and started praying. When I grew tired, I read in my bible.  My empty tummy was constantly on my mind.

I don’t remember what I read. But I didn’t do like a friend of mine in Bible college who opened the Scripture and placed his finger on the page and read this: “Judas went out and hung himself.” He said, “That’s not what God wants me to do.” He opened it again, finger down on a verse that this time said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might;” Uh… that wasn’t it either. One more time: “What you are about to do, do quickly.” He closed his Bible and said, “I think I’ll ask someone else.” Nope, I just read some in the Old Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs to start off.

I told God that I didn’t understand what was happening in my life. I needed answers. What was I doing wrong?

I slept well that night and began again early the next morning. When I was not praying or reading, or thinking about food, I would go on a walk in the woods and cry out to God.

Friday evening it came. A migraine. One of the worst. I had brought no meds. No shots. Not even an aspirin.

I knelt by my bed and held my head while I called out to God. “Take these away from me!”

Nothing.

“God, please remove this pain!”

Silence.

“Lord, will you take this migraine?”

“No.” It was almost audible. No?

“Why not?” I wailed.

A long pause then very softly, “ I want you to give them to me.”

Ah, yes, there is a difference between taking and giving. I prayed harder giving the migraines, the pain, my health to Him. I didn’t stop there. I gave Him everything I could think of. My family, each by name. Even extended family, in-laws and outlaws. I listed all I owned even the socks and shoes I had on my feet. “God I give you my ministry. And…. My life.”

Kneeling quietly, still in pain, I passed out there beside the bed.

When I woke up I was still on the floor. Cold and cramped, but my head didn’t hurt anymore. I went straight to my routine. No food- only water – and Bible and prayer as if nothing had really happened. My headache was gone, but I didn’t deserve it.

That afternoon as I walked, I told God I was tired of trying to do everything. All I did in life was by my own strength and I couldn’t do it anymore. I did not please others, the pastor, my wife, or the teens I worked with. I was a failure. I talked it through until a formula began to form in my mind. “All I’ve done was of my own power, by the pastor’s direction, to the teens.” I knew that wasn’t right. I tried again. “All I do can’t be like that. It can’t be of my pastor, through my talents, to the teens.” And again, “Of God, through my own strength, to God’s glory.” After going through the many combinations, I realized that no, it had to be this and only this: “Of Him, Through Him, and To Him.” I was satisfied. This was the only formula that was correct. And I had been doing it all wrong. On the walk back, I asked God for forgiveness and told Him I would follow this formula from now on.

A peace came over me when I reached the cabin again. I wasn’t even hungry anymore. That was what I needed. Not food. Not a cure. I needed a formula to hang my life on.

That night I slept well. No migraine. I returned home that day. I wondered if God had really let me give them to Him.

That week I met with my pastor. I told him of my weekend getting alone to talk with God. And about the miracle of the life-changing formula He gave me.

He sat back in his chair. Rubbed his chin and grabbed for his Bible. “Do you know that is in the Bible?”

“No.” I thought it was original because I had to work through and eliminate so many things to come to that conclusion. “I have never heard or read it before.” I told him.

He turned to Romans 11:36 and read, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

“Let me see that!” I thought he made it up and was kidding me. Yet, there it was on the page in black and white, right above the verse that says we are to give our lives as a living sacrifice. I noted it said “give” and not “Lord, take my life as a living sacrifice.” There is a difference. I was shocked. I had no idea.

A week went by and no migraines. Two weeks. A month, and I began to look at what I was doing differently. Different food? Medicine? No, nothing. Two months, three, then six months went by with no headaches.

That was around twenty years ago. I have not had a migraine since that Friday I prayed by the bedside in the cabin.

And… the formula still rings true. It changed my life. Everything is “Of Him, through Him, and to Him.” Whether it is my writing. My Job. Ministry. Or even how I treat my own children.

You know, we look for God in the little things. The inches, the minutes. The things that didn’t happen that could’ve. I found Him in a great thing. How do you measure a changed life?

And oh, yeah, some advice: don’t eat a big meal after fasting for three days. Good idea, bad idea.

 

The Formula: part one

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Miracles happen every day. Most times we ignore them and they go unacknowledged.

We tend to measure God in inches, seconds, and by how well we feel.

“One half inch to the left and that bullet would’ve killed me.”

“If we had left for that trip ten seconds earlier, that would be us in that wreck on the highway!”

“My knee stopped hurting. It’s a miracle!”

Now, I don’t discount these things as possible godly interventions, but it seems to me that our measurement should be much broader. Why should we limit God to inches and seconds? He is much bigger than that. I have learned to measure God by His direct actions in my heart that change my life dramatically.

One such miracle began my second year in college. What seemed to start as a healing miracle became so much more.

They began. My first experience was right after finals. I thought my head would burst. I vomited and rode the waves of pain in my dorm room thinking it was just stress.

As the years progressed they became worse and increased in frequency. In the meantime, I graduated, got married, fathered two children, and worked a fantastic job in the field of psychology.

While at work one day, I said I was ill and didn’t wait to be released. I left. My head was killing me. When I got in the car, I vomited. I stumbled back into the building. It was the first time I experienced hyperventilation from the pain. I passed out. My boss called 911, and I was taken to the hospital to spend the night in intensive care. They thought I was dying. So, did I. It would not be the last time I rode in an ambulance for this.

The doctors declared that my problem was called “vaso-constrictor rhinitis.” Basically, my blood vessels in my sinus were overly sensitive to temperature changes, and that in turn triggered migraines.

Once, I was at a professional baseball game with friends sitting in the cool of the shade. However, the sun moved—as it is prone to do—and I soon sat in the heat. They carried me out of the ballpark.

Doctors attempted many things to give me relief. They changed my diet and prescribed various medicines. I began injecting a common migraine medicine called Imitrex that normally cost ninety dollars a shot. There were some days that I was directed to take as many as three shots to quell the migraine to no avail.

After years of suffering, the condition affected my work. I requested to be put on part time work status. At the same time, I also worked as a youth pastor at a church. I struggled to keep that position without it affecting my ministry, but I was now having three to five migraines per week.

Totally frustrated, I talked with my pastor.

“What should I do?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Why is God doing this to me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask Him.”

I wanted answers, wasn’t he the connection to God? Past laying-on-of-hands for healing from several groups didn’t even make a dent in my malady. Even an exorcism at this point would be welcome.

Devastated, I drove home from that meeting and told my wife that I needed to get a way for a few days and talk to God. She always supported me. We called a friend.

“Can I borrow your cabin by the lake for a few days?”

“Whatever you need, come get the keys.”

I picked up my bible, grabbed a change of clothes, and kissed my wife goodbye. I set out to do something I had never done before—fast and pray.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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