[Risks No. 970 – 977] The family and I drove south toward Birmingham, Alabama in celebration of my in-laws 52nd wedding anniversary. Within minutes of arriving, I began experiencing a weird cramping sensation in my abdomen. Moments later a sharp, distinct pain hit my right lower back. I had experienced this same pain years prior. Kidney Stones. Over six years ago I was wracked with pain, wondered why my wife couldn’t get me to the Emergency room any faster, and then passed a single stone while awkwardly peeing in a medical cup – all within a two-hour window.
I excused myself from company and performed an optimistic google search, “tips for quickly passing a kidney stone.” That was Sunday, December 28th. I hardy slept that night – due to near constant and excruciating pain – to the point of vomiting on several occasions. Hot baths helped ease the pain momentarily but nothing took it away – no amount of rebuking, walking, commanding, sitting, agreeing, kneeling, Bible-quoting, worshipping, friends-praying. Everything I knew to do in praying for the sick seemed to provide me with nothing more in the immediate beyond believing/trusting that I was going to seek God regardless of what was happening.
By mid-morning on Monday I visited the local Emergency Room. They gave me liquids and some meds that finally knocked out the pain along with a CT-scan of my right kidney. Indeed, two stones. One was passing through the kidney and the other was still lodged. I thought to myself while in the ER that I should offer to pray for other hurting people but couldn’t get to a point where compassion for others was trumping my own dizzying experience. I was prescribed a high dose of pain meds and felt much better that afternoon. Monday night I dozed off and on, mostly off, the pain had returned and the meds weren’t doing much to curb it. I was still praying, rebuking, worshipping, thanking. Times like these are the true test of 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of Christ Jesus for you.”
We decided to drive home that day (Tuesday) to get the kids back to routine and I hadn’t thrown up in a while so we chose to risk it. Thankfully we made it with little trouble other than a husband/dad who looked like death. I laid down for a nap and woke up an hour later, shocked. The pain, in great ferocity, began to tempt and try me – again. I couldn’t believe that the meds (and prayer) seemed worthless in comparison to this pain. I circled our living room hundreds of times, trying to control my breathing, all the while hoping the pain would pass. It didn’t. Enter ER trip # 2 here.
Arriving at St. Thomas Hospital was deja-vu in the sense that it was where I had passed a stone so quickly years prior. Last time I had been instantly admitted. This time there was a two-hour wait. I took more meds (which lowered my pain from a 10 to a 9) and then paced outside in the freezing cold. I began praying and said something along these lines; “God, this sucks. I don’t know why You’re allowing this right now but it would be way better if I at least had the heart to pray for others who are here.”
Within seconds a couple rounded the corner right to where I was pacing. Jared & Anne were looking for a break from the wind to light a smoke. I asked why they were there. Anne had experienced a minor heart attack and has a history of heart issues in the family. I told them how I had just prayed to God about my own issues and having others to pray for. Asked if I could please pray that the heart issues would be healed? “Uh, sure…” Instructed Jared to place his hand on his wife’s heart. I began praying and instantly sensed the Lord’s presence. I finished seconds later and watched tears streaming down Jared’s face. “Man, that was real. Nobody ever does that anymore.” I smiled and encouraged them with God’s love. She wasn’t experiencing pain in that moment.
A few minutes later I found myself praying over Bill and his wife – he was dealing from insane pain in his groin and had no clue why. The Holy Spirit was moving in that prayer time, it was powerful. Was able to pray for my Doctor, my nurses and received a prophetic word (followed by sweet hugs) for one of the ladies cleaning up patient rooms to make space for more patients. I was also reminded of the compassion that Jesus had, and has, for the hurting. I confessed that my compassion had been waning. That I just had not sensed as free or as caring as I knew I had been called into.
I drove home, loaded up on fresh fluids – and morphine, but there was a smile in my heart greater still than the testing/affliction/call-it-what-you-will I had just endured.
As a result of the kidney stones I canceled my first trip of the year – 10 days in Australia ministering with YWAM. My heart was heavy at the idea of bailing on such a special opportunity but I sensed in my spirit that it was wisdom to rest. One of the amazing – and hilarious ways – in which God wonderfully works, though – is I was able to receive a near-full credit for my flight cancellations and then re-book a trip (with the same YWAM group two weeks later) while they are on mission to New Zealand. Any of you who know my story will know that New Zealand is near and dear to my heart. It is where God began to profoundly show me his miraculous hand willingly at work.
I will keep you posted at a number of “coincidental” connections that are coming forth as a result of this re-purposed/timed trip. The one that immediately stands out is that New Zealand believers have just celebrated the 200th anniversary since the Gospel was first preached to them (Christmas day, 1814). What a privilege to return, entirely unexpectedly, to promote and encourage the Gospel of Jesus to the beautiful people of New Zealand.
Father, thank You. I’m not 100% sure why I wasn’t instantly healed but it does seem to me that Your glory will be even greater with what you are working together now for my good. I’m so appreciative that you take even what is meant for evil and turn it around. Jesus, be praised. Holy Spirit, please anoint us afresh this year with the fullness that is Jesus.