"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
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 life's history.
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
"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
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