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by Bob Russell, ©2020

Image credit: Falco at Pixabay

(Jan. 1, 2020) — On Sunday, December 29, 2019, I attended the evening service at Lifechanger Church in Claremore, Oklahoma.  We had a guest speaker that night, Pastor Don Couch, the pastor at Vision, the church I attend on Friday night in Broken Arrow.  Pastor Don preached from chapter 6 of the New Testament book of Ephesians.  The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to believers in Ephesus imploring them to put on the whole armor of God and when they have done all they know to do, they should “just stand.”

I found this especially significant because I have been standing on a dream I had in late May 2016.  On August 19, 2014 I suffered a severe stroke that has impaired me greatly.  My left arm is still paralyzed and I walk with difficulty due to remaining partial paralysis in my left leg and foot.  I am a living, breathing, walking, talking miracle.  Upon seeing the CT scan taken when I reached St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, the attending physician first said I wouldn’t live through the night.  About three or four days later he said it looked as if I would live but would be paralyzed, never able to get out of bed, and would be a mental vegetable, never knowing who or where I was.

I didn’t find out about any of this until much later, as I don’t remember anything that happened for a month after the stroke.  On August 5, 2014 I had a complete physical.  My doctor said I had the metabolism of a VERY healthy 40-year-old man (I was 64 years, 8 months old at the time).  When my wife called him and told him I had a stroke he couldn’t believe it.  They decided a blood clot, probably from my abdomen, had hit my right carotid artery.  The clot partially blocked the artery, increasing the blood pressure.  The increased blood pressure tore six pieces off the clot.  The largest piece hit the part of the brain that controls my left arm; the next-largest took out my left leg, while the others affected my vision, speech, short-term memory, balance, and emotions.

My speech apparently came back pretty quickly.  The only thing I remember about the ten days in the hospital was being on an ambulance gurney waiting for a fire drill to end so they could load me on the elevator.  I don’t remember the elevator ride nor the trip to the nursing home.  The first thing I remember is three weeks into the nursing-home stay when three physical therapists took me to the therapy room to begin my treatment.  It took all three of them to get me out of bed and into a wheelchair and then to get me stood up in the parallel bars.  I was not big, weighing in at a mere 150 pounds at the time.  Before the stroke I was 180 pounds of solid muscle, so I lost 30 pounds in about 30 days.  I don’t know how they fed me at first because I wasn’t aware of anything.  I worked very hard and in ten weeks (71 days), I walked out to the car with the help of a cane and my wife.

Now to the dream.  I had a dream that I woke up totally healed.  I jumped out of bed praising God for my healing but it wasn’t that day and my leg wasn’t ready for it.  I went down in a heap and took quite some time to get back on the bed, but I got there.  My wife had a dream a few months ago that I came in one night from church waving my left arm over my head and babbling about how I had been healed.  This is but one of the confirmations of my dream that have been related to me.  Here I am, just over 3 1/2 years after the dream, able to drive, get around by myself and to help others.  I have been standing on that dream, knowing that God is going to restore me to pre-stroke status.  I pray every night that the next day will be the one in my dream and when it isn’t I say, “Oh, well, it wasn’t today so it must be tomorrow.”

I have stood on that dream for just over 3 1/2 years, knowing that the day WILL come, and until then I will “just stand.”  I will continue to pray and believe, but I will stand in faith.  I tell people every day that I am one day closer to seeing the manifestation of my healing.  Some people have tried to talk me out of my faith, but I am standing strong on the belief that restoration is imminent.  Some have told me I will be restored in Heaven but the other aspect of my dream is that everyone is amazed at my recovery.  Everyone will be restored in Heaven so the amazement MUST come in this lifetime, on this earth.  I don’t know what the delay is but I do know that delay isn’t denial.  I know, without one shred of doubt, that restoration is coming.  I don’t know when but I know it is a matter of WHEN, not IF.  God would not give me a message in a dream if He didn’t intend to finish my recovery.

I attend three wonderful churches full of people standing with me in faith, encouraging me, and praying for me.  I do volunteer work at the Claremore Veterans Center, doing what little I am able to do to help those more impaired than myself.  The best thing about the volunteer work is that many people are encouraged by seeing the improvement in my condition over the 4 1/2 years I have been there.  I also have hundreds of people there believing, encouraging, and praying, wanting to see my dream happen.

The last time I saw the neurologist was in August 2016, two years to the month after the stroke.  He was very surprised at the improvement he saw in my condition.  He told me during one of my visits that in 25 years he had never seen anyone survive as much brain damage as I suffered, much less improve as much as I had.  He had told me it was like getting shot point-blank with a 12-gauge shotgun and that it was incredible I was still alive.

The first conscious thought I can remember concerning the stroke is that I would recover completely.  That thought came to me before I left the nursing home.

I am thrilled at the amount of improvement I have made so far but hope to see full recovery very soon and firmly believe it is on the way.  I have never faced a long-term disability nor one of this magnitude, so it has been a tough time, but I won’t give up.  Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac, his dream for a son, and Jesus waited 30 years for His ministry to begin.  I hope my wait is over soon but I will wait as long as it takes.  What I am doing now must be part of God’s plan for me, and others, and when this aspect is complete He will move me on to the next phase.

I have asked for another 30 years of productive life to serve Him and I believe the request will be granted.  God has been so good to me and has given me more time to serve Him on this earth.  I believe the stroke was an attempt by satan to thwart God’s plan for me but he should have messed with someone else.  I believe he thought I would blame God and become bitter but that hasn’t, and won’t, happen.  I have days of pain and discouragement but I pray and God gives me the strength to overcome both.  I also have a support base in the three churches that is incredible.  I am so thankful, first for the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross, for God giving me time to serve Him, and for the support of my church families.  I am truly blessed beyond imagination.  Happy New Year and God bless one and all.

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.

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