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Granted The Breath of Life

Back in the late '80's, my father-in-law was in the hospital, seemingly dying of congestive heart failure. He had suffered a severe heart attack several years earlier, which had led to open heart surgery and a triple bypass. That stabilized him for awhile, but eventually his health declined, so that he was struggling to simply breathe.

At home, he had insisted on using his bedroom upstairs. There would be no hospital bed in the living room for him! No porta-potty in his dining room! I can see him now, trudging up those stairs, pausing after each step, clutching the rail as he gasped for breath. But now Norm was too exhausted. He seemed ready to lay his burdens down. He seemed ready to slip away - the way of all flesh. And so I found myself in that hospital room with my forlorn father-in-law.

I freely admit, I was back on my heels. I was young in the Lord and short on personal testimonies that would've fortified my faith. Nor was I alone with Norm. My wife's four siblings, all much older than us, stood beside us in that room. Only one, a sister, was a Christian. Yet, she and Bonnie's other older sister were actually whispering about funeral arrangements. Bonnie's two older brothers loomed to my left, along with a brother-in-law. Two of the three were easily old enough to be my dad.

I felt as self-conscious as a rabbit being glared at by three coyotes! It seemed to me they were glowering at me, daring me to say something religious. A mocking "Where’s your Christ now?” hung in the air, out of audible range, but ringing in my mind nonetheless. My poor wife had asked me to come and pray for her dad, but I was inert. I felt as though my feet were glued to the floor.

Just then, a male nurse came in and began working over the various knobs and drips connected to my father-in-law. As he looked over an IV tube, I asked, "Are you giving him something for his breathing?" "No," he replied glibly, "There's nothing we can really do for him. This is just for pain."

There was something so callous about how he casually blurted that out, with Bonnie's dad sitting there awake and alert, that I suddenly was enraged. My heart went out to Norm, sitting there, alone and scared. I pushed forward through the smog of unbelief, and asked, "Can I pray for you, Norm?" "Yes," he replied weakly. I don't remember my exact words, but I placed my hand on his shoulder, closed my eyes, and asked the Lord to minister to my father-in-law and bless his breathing.

I felt Norm start to heave a little as I prayed. His body jerked up and down, an inch or so at a time, under my hand. Self conscious once again, I feared for a moment he might be laughing at me. Of course, he wasn't. Instead, Norm retched. He apologized to me after someone handed him a bedpan. "I'm sorry I ruined your prayer," he said meekly. "That's okay, Norm," I replied, "I just hope you're okay." Soon and very soon, he was better than okay!

I have always thought his vomiting was not coincidental. I choose to believe he expelled something unclean, because he immediately and noticeably grew stronger. His body rallied. His breathing became easier and more productive. The tubes and the whispers were left behind in that cold hospital room, because Norm was back home within a couple days.

The same man who could barely claw his way up the stairs was now marching up them, skipping steps as he went! I watched him go out and do what he always enjoyed doing - tinker on his car as it sat in his driveway. He actually changed the oil!

There is a stirring song of testimony and faith, "Too Good To Not Believe", by Brandon Lake. The lyrics declare first hand, eye witness accounts of miracles, then spits the words, "Don't tell me He can't do it!" right in Unbelief's eye. Though my testimony regarding my father-in-law pre-dates that wonderful song by three decades, still, it stands as my "Amen!" to it.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Therefore, He still does what He has always done - "go about doing good and healing all oppressed by the devil" (Act 10:38). Also, He is no "respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34), so what He has done for others He'll do for you and yours. The gospels tell us of only one person who asked Jesus if He was willing to heal him - to make him clean. But Jesus replied to us all when He declared, "I am willing. Be clean!" (Mat 8:2-3)

Don't be afraid, only hear and obey the Apostle Peter's plea: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord!" (Act 3:19) Please believe me when I say you will be very glad you did!

© Matthew Schilling December 2021

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