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by Bob Russell, ©2018

Photo credit: Anneka at Shutterstock

(Nov. 29, 2018) — I started this series on February 24, 2016, 18 months after suffering a stroke that the attending neurologist said should have killed me.  His optimistic prognosis was that if I lived I would be paralyzed, never able to get out of bed and a mental vegetable, never knowing who or where I was.

Once cognitive enough to understand, I rejected the negative prognosis and insisted I would overcome this event.  In May 2016 I had a dream that I woke up one morning totally healed.  Though it has been 2 1/2 years since that dream, I still believe it was a Word from God that if I would believe and do my part, He would restore me to pre-stroke status.  I have stood on that dream, refusing to surrender to negative words from people who think I am crazy to believe I will ever recover.  My left arm and hand are still paralyzed; I have a very noticeable limp from paralysis in my left leg and foot; and I still have a long way to go to full recovery, but I believe with all my heart that I WILL be restored because God said He would do it but didn’t say when.

A few weeks ago my wife had a dream that I came in from church one night waving my paralyzed left arm above my head saying, “Look what I can do.”  That day hasn’t arrived yet, either, but it WILL arrive.  Early this month (November 2018) I was at Vision, Friday night church, and a young woman approached me after service and asked about my disability.  I explained and she told me when she saw me kneel at the stage during worship she began to pray for me because she saw how difficult it was for me to get down there.  During her prayer God told her, “I am going to fix that; be patient.”

Those two events have boosted my confidence greatly, as I see both as confirmation of my dream and words from God to encourage me.  There are many people praying for me and standing in agreement with my profession of faith that restoration is coming, something that I am very thankful for.  I let doubters be doubters but tell them I believe what God says because He is the one in control and their negative thoughts have no effect on me.

Scripture is full of stories of people redeemed because of faith, and what God did for them He will do for me.  I tell people every day that my restoration is like a three-legged stool:   I have to believe it, pray for it, and do what I can to help myself.  I could have all the faith possible but if I hadn’t been willing to get out of bed and endure the pain to walk again I would still be bedridden or more likely would have died long ago.  Faith is key but the Bible says that faith without works is dead.  People not only hear my faith; they see it every day.

I do volunteer work at the Claremore Veterans Center and am able to daily share my story with people in similar or worse situations than mine.  It is such an honor and privilege to have God let me show His love, mercy, and power in my progress over the 3 1/2 years I have been there.  As God gives me more ability and stamina I put it to use in my duties there.  One resident in particular had a similar stroke 15 years ago and when he was told he would never walk again he said, “Okay,” but since seeing my progress he has been working very hard every day to reverse that situation and now states that “one day I will walk as good as you do.”

I hobble more than walk, but I am honored that my faith and determination have rubbed off on him.  I am often told that I am an encouragement and an inspiration, even by totally healthy people.  God has honored me greatly by allowing me to be His hands, feet, and voice in my circle of influence.  There are people who don’t know me and who will never meet me but have heard my story and gained faith and comfort through it.  The great thing about my volunteer work is that it is a winning formula for everyone.  I benefit, the residents benefit, the employees benefit, and families of residents and employees all benefit from my physical presence and by hearing and seeing my journey.  I have also been able to affect people through writing this series and posting it on multiple social network sites.

A woman at Vision, Friday night church, commented last Friday night (Nov. 16) that I have no idea how many people nor how many generations I am having a positive effect on.  I hadn’t really thought about the generational aspect, but that brings an added benefit and incentive to keep going and maintaining such a positive attitude.  After the life of activity I have had, being disabled is a blow, but it hasn’t deterred me from being as active and positive as I can be.  I used to have a lot of anger issues, but God has taken those from me and allowed me to be much more optimistic than I have been in the past.  I will continue to follow the path God has me on until He changes it or gives me a new mission.  Whatever He assigns me to I will do my best to accomplish it.

Another thing the Bible tells us is that whatever we face God will provide us a way out.  My current adversity has a way out and though I don’t know exactly what it looks like, I believe it will be revealed to me as I walk out my journey.  One of my pastors, Rick Burke of CedarPoint Church in Claremore, often speaks of living with patient endurance and I am doing that the best I can.  My other Claremore pastor, Dr. Ted Estes of Lifechanger Church, told me a little over three years ago that some people get immediate healing while for others it is a journey that must be walked out.  I am doing my best to walk out my path with as much patient endurance as I can muster.  God’s Word NEVER returns void so I know restoration is ensured and all I have to do is continue without giving up until I see the manifestation of my healing.  Faith is believing in things not seen and I believe I am healed even though I can neither see nor feel it.

At the Nov. 16 Vision service the young woman who delivered the message compared life to running a marathon.  We must continue on when we are tired and it seems we can’t go on because even entertaining the idea of giving up will defeat us.  As long as we forge ahead we will eventually finish our journey, so quitting can never be an option.  We have to reject the very idea of giving up and I have done so.  I will not give up on my dream of restoration.

In the Bible Abraham was told by God that he and Sarah would have a son though both were long past the child-bearing stage of life.  Abraham had to wait 25 years but he got the son he was promised.  God will give me the restoration I have been promised.  I hope I don’t have to wait as long as Abraham did, but I will wait as long as it takes because I KNOW that God will deliver on His promise if I will stand in faith.

Almost all of the people in my life are Christian who believe as I do and many stand with me in my belief.  There are a few, and very few, who have the opposite opinion, but I don’t take counsel from them.  In the Book of Job his wife and some of his “friends” told him to turn against God when troubles befell him but he didn’t and was rewarded with full restoration of what satan had taken from him.  I would never be so arrogant as to compare myself to Job, but I believe there is a similarity in that, needless to say, the manifestation hasn’t arrived yet, but I still believe it is on the way.  Today brought me one day closer to it and tonight I will again ask God to bring it tomorrow morning.  I WILL NOT give up because I KNOW it is on the way.

Pastor Rick Burke has preached about Daniel, how he petitioned God for something — I can’t remember exactly what — but 21 days later an angel arrived and told Daniel that he had been sent on the first day but had been delayed by a demon.  Rick asked what would have happened had Daniel given up in despair on day 14 or even day 20.  Would he have lost his answer?  I won’t take that chance, so regardless of how long it takes I will continue to believe and pray for it because I have no doubt my answer will come.

It is now November 26.  Over the last two weeks I have experienced a great deal of pain and a lack of mobility as my left leg is stiffer and it is very painful to walk, something I haven’t seen much in the last year or so.  The pain begins near the bottom of my shoulder blades, goes all the way across my back, into both hips and down both legs.  Much of the pain in my right leg comes from my bad knee.  Several years ago my family doctor told me that the ligaments in both knees are like a rubber band that has been overstretched one time too many.  I believe this is one of two things:  either nerves are waking up or that restoration is imminent and satan is throwing this at me in an attempt to make me give up out of discouragement.  It won’t work, because as Pastor Don Couch of Vision likes to say, “One Word from God can change your life.”

My life HAS been changed greatly by the stroke.  As much as it has brought me discouragement and disappointment, it hasn’t broken me and has given me a chance to get closer to God and to be honored by Him working through me to bring others to know Him.  God WILL restore me; I just don’t know when.

One thing I DO KNOW is that God is pleased with me in this ordeal and I can be sure that He will be with me always.  I am healed in the name of Jesus, even though it doesn’t yet look or feel as if that is the case.  Faith is the hope of things not seen and faith is what I am standing on.  I am fortunate to have so many people sharing with me in the belief that restoration is on the way.  THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR HEALING MY BODY!!!!!

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

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