I have been intriged over the past month over some issues regarding my recent "bout" of bad health issues. On December 8th, very appropriately the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, I had an operation, or procedure called an ablation on my heart. This was like my own personal Pearl Harbor! It reminded me of my mortality in a way I have never experienced in my 57 years.
The day before the operation I stopped by a retired minister friends home for prayer and spiritual conversation. This man of God who has served the LORD most of his adult life has been a well spring of inspiration and spiritual insight for me. We met just a short 5 years ago at a grocery store here in town. His first words to me as I was working in the crowded store on a Saturday morning as he pointed into the crowded dairy isle was " I wonder how many of these people know God..."
I did not know this elderly man from Adam and I honestly thought he may have been intoxicated! I have never had someone approach me in such a manner. He and his wife came into the store on the weekends and as our conversations developed over time I found myself anxiously looking for him on those busy Saturday mornings.
My wife and I had just moved back to this area in Martinsburg WV after moving the North Carolina for what I thought was my final move after retirement. It was not to be. My Father-in Law developed cancer issues, my Mother was getting ill in Florida and as I bounced between the two we decided to make the move back to West Virginia. I have an only son who lived nearby in Frederick Md. so the decision was not to difficult.
This elderly minister friend was easy to spot in the store; even in the parking lot. As other customers came into the store in their shorts, flip flops, tatoo's, short skits and skin tight clothes, he came in a suit and tie and very nice hat. His wife was dressed very modestly with a dress down to her ankles and what I would call church shoes.
One day I was really having a rough time of it. The renters of our unsold home in North Carolina were behind on the rent, I was still having to make house payments there and expensive rent here in WV. The home was being trashed right before my eyes and a few times I even had to drive 300 miles to mow the lawn! Quite a stressfull period in my life.
As I walked through the parking lot to go into the grocery store to work, the minister was walking in at the same time. He asked me what was troubling me and I poured in on! He said "lets walk back to my car..." I followed him and he instructed me to lay my hands on the hood of his car. I did not know what to expect. He laid his strong hand on top of mine and said that he was going to take this to Someone who could sell the house in NC for me, God!
Right there in the parking lot of the busiest store in the area; he lifted his voice and prayed for me and my situation. I peeked around and sure enough, people were watching us! God is my witness, within two months our home was sold. I was beginning to see that this man was not one of your normal "Christians" that we meet every day, or even in church. He seemed to have an inside track with God; the Maker of all things. I became very interested.
My father was a minister and as a child I had met regular "church people" who would say they would pray for you and I always wondered if they ever did; and if they did, what did they say and how long did they pray? This retired minister took it to the Throne Room of God right then and there; no matter the surroundings or circumstance, and God honored his prayer. God and I both know that I did not deserve any favors from Him. I have always believed in God but for short spurts I had never been totally sold out to Him, come what may.
Shortly thereafter the minister's wife died. They had been married over 65 years! He, of course missed her dearly. His heart was broken and he was now very lonely. I have visited him once or twice a week since our meeting that one fateful Saturday morning. I talk to him almost every evening.
He prays constantly. As a minister son during my childhood there always seemed to be a real prayer warrior in each of the church's my father ministered in. One or perhaps two; never more. They were what kept the church going, it seemed. Now God had seen fit to introduce one for me when I had reached my 50's! What a compassionate God we serve. I did not know that I was about to lose the last two surviving members of my family, my Mother and my last living Brother. The retired minister met my Mother briefly in a nursing home in nearby Maryland after she moved from Florida to be nearer to her last two sons. He took time out of his schedule to take communion with her shortly before she died. We had developed quite a friendship.
At times during my visit to the minister's home he would break down and cry. A very awkward situation. I have never sat and watched someone cry the way he did. I would get ready to excuse myself and quickly leave but I would hear an inner voice to "Sit down, Stay, and observe." I did not feel like it, but I did. I would watch this man of God as he worked his way through his loneliness and sorrow. It did not take too long before he would begin to raise his hand in the air and start to claim how great and good God is.
Even in great sorrow he worked his way through it by giving God praise and honor for all things. Most often for salvation, security in his salvation and the mighty ways of God; He is in total control. I have even witnessed him talk directly to what was troubling him; the feeling, the troubling spirit, or whatever one may want to call it. The first several times I thought he was talking to someone else in the room as he would say, "Oh no, I know who you are and what you are trying to do.....you do not belong here, I rebuke you, get out of my house, I am a child of the living God!"
At first I looked around the room thinking someone other than I was there! One or two times he actually got up out of his chair when rebuking this "thing" and demand that it leave his house. He would turn around and smile and say he could see them running down his street with their tail between their legs! I could visualize it as he said it.
He and I started praying for each other; both in person and over the telephone. He has developed eye problems, hip problems and is loosing his hearing and having trouble with hearing aids. We pray almost every day. He for me, and I for him. I did not realize it but God was teaching me through him to pray and interceed. I have found myself not only praying for the minister and his issues, and me for my issues but it has been expanding to quite a number of people, ministries and issues.
Suddenly I had a mild heart attack. They have been trying to treat it with medications but there have been problems. A heart ablation was performed on December 8th of this year; just a few weeks ago. During my visit with the minister he said something very strange. He is having trouble dozing off when I start talking, but he then wakes up and says what he has to say. My wife said that she also feels like falling asleep when I talk, so do not be offended at him!
He said that this operation was not for me, but it was for God; God was behind it. Here I have been praying for total healing and restoration; clear arteries, no heart issue and restoration of health. And I know that God can do that; and He will in His time. But for me to have an operation for God? I have never heard of such a thing and I thought the minister was finally starting to lose it in some way or the other as those of great age sometimes do.
I was about to find out another way of God. The operation was successful, the doctor said. But an hour or so later I started to bleed internally, very badly. I had swelling the size of a football in my right leg. There were two nurses and the doctor who were leaning on my leg with both hands and applying pressure to try to dissipate the blood and stop the bleeding.
If I am awake, I am talking, and although in great pain I noticed a "religious" tatoo on one of the nurses. I asked her about it and she said they are not allowed to wear a cross or anything pertaining to God because it might offend patients. I commended her on her decision to have the tatoo. We started talking about passages of Scripture and I told them all that as a child I had memorized Psalm 23. My favorite part was God's promise that He would take us "through the valley of the shadow of death...." Not over the valley of the shadow of death, or over it, or avoid it all together, but take us THROUGH. I told them all that this was as close to that valley I had been, and that God was taking me through, I could feel Him right there, right now.
The nurses stayed beyond their duty hours, one young lady stayed over two hours past her time to leave. After the new nursing staff took over the nurse with the tatoo came back into my room and was amazed at the conversation we had just had. She said that I did not realize the impact the conversation had on the other nurse. She was raised Catholic, she was attending mass with her two small children and she was not getting anything out of mass and she was tired of taking her children. She realized that her children would end up just like her; not really knowing God in an intimate way. I was beginning to get a picture of why I had bled so badly. No matter how much it hurt, it was for a reason. I have added both nurses to my prayer list. Perhaps this is what the elderly minister was speaking of, "this one is for God...?"
Just a few days later at another job, I am now a custodian at a local school, late one evening a teacher I did not even know came into the office where we were taking a break and she exclaimed, "thank God, you are here..." I did not even know the teacher. She said that she had told her husband that she had to talk to Mr. Peacher . She started crying and said that she had been through all of her sick leave, she had no leave left, she had 1/2 inches of fluid around her heart and she her heart was beating 170 times a minute. And they had just found a lump or mark in one of her lungs. She was in tears.
I asked her if she prayed. She said she does. I talked with her qujite a while about the issue of prayer. I was honest and told her that I sometimes cried myself to sleep as I prayed; and that God hears every single word that she says to Him. He never sleeps or grows weary of our coming to Him. I also told her that I would add her to our church prayer list. She talked openly about God, prayer and spiritual matters.
Was this another fulfillment of what the retired minister was talking about that "this one is for God?" I think so. I want to know God that intimately. It is not easy. It takes quality, quiet time in His Presence. It will cost you something. Christ said to "buy of Him gold, refined in the fire...." He was not speaking lightly of these things pertaining to Godliness.
Is it worth it? Sure, I would like to have a quiet, nice, prosperous retirement one day soon. Will I get it? Possibly not. The days are getting short before His return for His Bride. The enemy of our souls is pulling out all of the stops and he has declared total war against anything that represents God. But take heart; the Book of Daniel says that in the last of days "those who know their God will do great exploits!"
Praise God! We are there! God has trusted each and everyone reading this post a spot among those who "know" there God. It will cost us something but it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. One look on His dear face will say it all.
Like my Minister friend likes to say, "Hang in there, we are winners, our ticket is already punched."