"Behold, I will do a
new thing," says the Lord." Isaiah 43:19
I begin this new year with
a story of an older pastor who was "renewed"
last year. It is a bit longer that my usual monthly
letter, so please bear with me.
James is 74 years old. He has
retired twice. But he agreed to become an interim for
a yoked parish of two small sized congregations in rural
PA. He is handsome, a Clark Gable type, with a muscular
physique and an excellent speaking voice. The only difference
was he walked with a distinct limp from his left foot,
which was supported by a specially designed shoe.
On Weekends I rarely
stay in a pastor's home. But this time God arranged
my accommodations. James has a PHD in counseling. His
home office looked like a counseling library. It contained
all the oldies and goodies from Rollo May to "I'm Okay,
You're Okay." With glee he spoke of numerous people
he had seen God heal through the help of the Holy Spirit
and his acquired skills.
When James drove home after
the men's session, a major catharsis began. The garage
became a "safe space" for him to share a part of his
He said,"I experienced what I would
call a 'visitation from the Lord' during the
time at cross with the hammer and nails." Tears
quickly began to flow and continued to do so for some
time. They came from deep within him. Upon composing
himself he continued,
"My heart's desire as a
boy was to be a professional baseball player. I was
outstanding in my high school years and had several
colleges show interest in me. I don't mean to boast,
but I really believed I had a great chance of seeing
this dream come true.
My dad was a foreman at a
coal mine. A man name Joe H. lived with us. He was a
miner and an alcoholic. Every pay-day he would go off
on a 3 to 4 day binge. One Monday when he had not returned,
my dad asked me to fill in for Joe at the mine. I did
it as I had done so before.
I was 17 at the time. My
brother Vernon was with me and a man named Dodi E. Wouldn't
you know that on that day, there was a cave-in. Coal
was literally bursting from the walls from the pressure.
My brother and Dodi got out but as I trailed them, a
ton of rock fell on me, covering my entire body except
for my head. Several other miners in the shaft came
to rescue me, unpiling the boulders on my body. Two
of my veribrae were broken and my left foot and leg
were crushed. I was in great pain but still conscious.
They were able to remove all
the boulders except one about 300 pounds that encased
my left leg. That's when we all experienced a clear
'visitation from the Lord.' He empowered my brother
Vernon with a rush of super natural adrenalin! He alone
lifted that boulder while the other men dragged me from
beneath it. I had heard about such happenings before,
but now I saw it with my own eyes.
Today as you taught about
forgiveness and releasing people of our past, the Holy
Spirit reminded me of this incident. I realized in my
deep heart I had never forgiven Joe H. for shattering
my dream of becoming a baseball player! If he had not
been drunk, I would not have been in that mine!
Many times I have applied
the principles of forgiveness I've learned over the
years to myself. I really didn't think I needed to forgive
anyone until today. God brought me back to this experience
in the mine. That was 57 years ago! Can you believe
that? The hurt was so deep within me that I believe
I had repressed it from my memory. Well,
today as I pounded a nail into the cross, I forgave
Joe H. and immediately felt a release deep within my
heart. Do you understand now what I mean when I say
I had a 'visitation from the Lord today?' "
What a privilege it was for
me to be a "listening ear" to this revelation of what
the Holy Spirit had done. I saw his tears of sorrow
turn into tears of joy that come when past hurts and
wounds are released through forgiveness!
James closed with: "You
know Ron, I don't mean to be self centered, but if for
nothing else, I believe God sent you here this weekend
for me! My interim will soon be over. I can't think
of a greater finale for me. Isn't the Lord wonderful.'
I agreed and asked to pray
for him and with him. Together we praised the Lord for
this manifestation. Jesus had done one of the things
He announced He came to do: set the captives free!
Thank you, Partners, for your
involvement with me in UpBuilding a pastor, whose ministry
is that of upbuilding others. The Holy Spirit, Whom
Jesus called The Counselor, came and counseled this
PHD counselor and brought healing and release to his
own spirit! Hallelujah!
we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up!"
- 2 Cor 12:19