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by Bob Russell, ©2020
(Apr. 23, 2020) — As I start this chapter it is April, 19, 2020 and I am 5 years, 8 months to the day into the stroke (August 19, 2014) and a few weeks away from 4 years since the dream I had that I would wake up one morning completely healed (May 2016). On August 5, 2014, 14 days before the stroke, I had a complete physical after which my doctor told me I had the metabolism of a very healthy 40-year-old man (I was 64 years, 8 months old).
They told me they think the clot that got me came from my abdomen as there was no blockage previously. The neurologist told me it was as if I had been shot in the head point-blank with a 12-gauge shotgun. I am a devout Christian and fervent believer in the words of the Holy Bible and follow them the best that I can. One verse says that we will lay hands on the sick and they will recover; another says that if we have faith as a mustard seed we can say to the mountain, “Move,” and it will move. I believe both and have had hands laid on me countless times and both spoken to the problem and asked God for forgiveness, mercy, and healing but haven’t seen the healing yet. I don’t know why I haven’t been restored but I am sure God has a plan but hasn’t made me aware of it yet.
I still believe healing will happen and hope it will be soon. While I occasionally struggle, I still believe the dream was a promise from Almighty God that He will restore me. Time is an issue with me as a mortal man but not to God, who is an eternal being. I remember from the Bible that Abraham had to wait 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled and Jesus had to wait 30 years for His ministry to begin, so waiting four years since the dream is a drop in the bucket compared to them but the wait has been, and still is, a struggle. My left arm is still totally paralyzed and my left leg partially so. I walk with a severe limp and balance still tends to be an issue at times. I am very blessed considering the initial prognosis that I wouldn’t live through the night and the secondary that if I lived I would never get out of bed or know where I was. God has shown two miracles in this so far and I am waiting as patiently as I can for the third miracle, that of total recovery. Two years into this ordeal the attending neurologist told me that in 25 years of practice he had never seen anyone survive as much brain damage as I suffered, much less improve as much as I had at that point, at which time I was using a quad cane to walk.
One of my pastors, Rick Burke of CedarPoint Church in Claremore, often talks of “patient endurance.” I am enduring but struggle with the “patient” part. Another of my pastors, Ted Estes of Lifechanger Church, says that some people see immediate healing but for some it is a process that takes time. I am one of the process-that-takes-time people. I will wait in faith as long as it takes even though my faith wanes at times and discouragement overwhelms me. The only thing that can prevent total recovery is giving up and I won’t do that because I believe that restoration is coming as long as I don’t surrender to despair and defeat. My other pastor, Don Couch of Vision in Broken Arrow, has been very encouraging to me also.
I have been doing volunteer work at the Claremore Veterans Center since May 8, 2015 until the coronavirus scare stopped that on March 7 of this year. I am looking forward to resumption as it gives me a purpose in life and I can be a useful part of society again. I don’t do much there due to my physical limitations but what I do is needed and I can be an encouragement to the disabled veterans there, as well as to their families and the employees who see me dealing with a severe situation in a positive manner. It encourages me also when I see the positive effect my struggle has on others. It isn’t how much I do that matters but rather the fact that I am doing something for others despite my affliction and that they have seen improvement in my condition in the five years I have been there. The attitude I show there every day makes a huge difference. I am an example of what faith and selflessness means and that anyone, regardless of his circumstances, can make a difference and serve others if he is willing.
God is working in me and through me in this situation and when I have accomplished what He wants me to accomplish my day of restoration will arrive. I believe God has a day marked on His calendar and on that day I will see the restoration I am believing in and waiting for. It is a true honor and blessing that He is willing to let me be His hands and feet, especially since I lived most of my life as a total heathen. I accepted Jesus about 30 years ago and since have totally turned my life around. Scripture says that when I accepted Jesus I became a new creation. It took a while for the change to be fully implemented but I am most definitely different than I was 30 years ago, much improved. I hope this doesn’t sound self serving or bragging because it isn’t meant to be; it is intended to give hope and encouragement to others. Someone could have a serious stroke in the future and reading the story of my journey, hearing about it, or seeing it firsthand could help him or her cope with the effects of the situation. Family members of residents of the Claremore Veterans Center have told me that other family members across the nation have been told about my journey. I probably will never know how many lives I have affected but knowing isn’t important; only showing what faith in Jesus can do is important.
I pray daily for all the people at the center, among the other things I take to God and thank Him every day for what I have. I see recovery as a three-legged stool. Faith is key but praying in faith is important and so is doing my part because God works with us and through us. All the faith I could have would be useless if I wasn’t willing to get out of bed and try to walk. The Bible says that faith without works is dead so lying around feeling sorry for myself wouldn’t have done any good. When I tell of the early prognoses some people say, “Well, you showed them,” but I tell them, “No, God showed them; I am just the vessel He used to do it.” I certainly haven’t done anything on my own but have done as much as I can to help myself and trust Almighty God to do what I cannot do. We are a team: God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, me, and those believing with and praying for me. In this case it does take a village, with God being the most important component.
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.