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“MEN OF IRON 2018” BOLSTERED MY FAITH
by Bob Russell, ©2018
(Jul. 18, 2018) — This spring (April 19- 21, 2018) I attended my second “Men of Iron” conference in Ruidoso, New Mexico. There were sessions Thursday evening, Friday morning and evening, and Saturday morning. All were wonderful, but the Friday evening session was the most impactful for me.
Instead of having an altar call for those needing healing, we were asked to stand where we were and for those nearby to gather around us and lay hands on us and join in prayer. My head was bowed and my eyes closed, but one of the men I rode with told me men were five or six deep around me. I felt two hands on my head and a dozen or more on my shoulders, back, and sides. As they prayed for healing I felt something but wasn’t quite sure what I was experiencing.
When I left that night I was carrying the cane I had depended on for support and haven’t used it since. My balance is so much better since that evening that I believe my days of needing a cane to walk are over. I still hobble more than walk and still can’t use my left arm, but those things are also on the way out. I had a dream two years ago that I woke up one morning totally restored, my left arm and leg working as they were designed to work by Almighty God. It wasn’t THAT morning, and when I jumped up praising God for the healing I fell because my leg wasn’t quite ready for such exuberance.
I firmly believe the dream is still valid and that I will be restored to pre-stroke status. I don’t know which morning it will be, but I KNOW it will come. I pray every night that the next morning will be the morning of my dream but when it isn’t I sigh in disappointment and say, “Oh, well, it will be tomorrow.” I have done this every day for two years knowing the day of restoration WILL COME. There have been times I got discouraged but my Christian family was always there to help me over the discouragement. Faith isn’t always easy, but it always pays off if we stand strong on it and refuse to give up because things don’t happen as quickly or in the manner we expected.
The theme at Men of Iron this year was “Never Quit,” and I won’t quit. The only time in my life I quit was when I quit college and that was because I didn’t want to be there in the first place. I dropped out of college 11 weeks in and enlisted in the U.S. Army, which is what I wanted to do out of high school. I spent only three years in the Army, serving in the 7th Special Forces Group (Abn) as a weapons specialist. I feel a bit guilty because they spent a year training me and got only two years of use out of the massive effort and expense it took to train me to that standard.
One of my pastors, and one of the speakers at the conference, is Rick Burke. He has spoken about some people knowing very clearly what God’s plan for their life is but others have to figure it out. I am having to figure it out because I haven’t had any clear word from God, either through a dream or vision, so I am going with opportunities I find to serve Him through serving people. Maybe serving people to the best of my ability and spreading His word through my actions and testimony is my mission. If so I am accomplishing His goal for me to the best of my ability.
Many people have heard the story first-hand and many more have heard it second- or third-hand. There are people who will never meet me who know of the progression from not dying to not being paralyzed and a mental vegetable, which were the first two opinions offered by the attending neurologist, to where I am today some three years, eight months later.
God knows when my restoration will come, because He has seen every day of my future and when the time is right it will happen. God isn’t often early, but He is never late. I have often said that restoration will come when God is ready, but lately I have come to believe that it is I who need to be ready for restoration. I don’t know what me being ready looks like, but God knows and when He decides I will be ready. It can’t come too soon for me, but I trust that God has my best interests in mind and that whatever happens will be to my benefit and all I have to do is trust God and follow any instructions He gives me.
I believe my restoration is a three-legged stool. I first have to have faith, to believe He will restore me, then pray, and then do all I can to help myself. I believe that God helps those who help themselves. I could have all the faith in the world and pray 24/7 but if I wasn’t willing to get up and make a difference for myself and others, my faith would not help me. So, I am up every day serving others less fortunate than myself and showing the love of Jesus in my words and actions. I don’t say this to glorify myself but rather to impress on others the importance of following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, to be a servant.
I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.