Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Couple Letters

My friend Jeremiah doesn't post comments on my blog. He sends me emails from his iPhone. This one, though, I needed to share. It was a response to yesterday's post:

When [a mutual friend] told me you were in bad shape (after I read your last post) I thought "he's trying to do too much." I don't think you lied to yourself in the hospital. I believe you didn't understand how much work it is for habitual overachievers not to overfill their plates.
     I guess we think God won't be pleased with us unless we have ten things going on at once. For some that may be true, but this is hardly the case with you. Please, please take time to heal. Those doctors almost killed you in an effort to cure you. You can't just jump back into this whirlwind of activity we call church life. Life will never be the same again, Bilbo. Or in your case it may be Frodo. You've been stabbed, stung, and had your finger bitten off. Think you can go back to life in the Shire? Just write for a while and leave Shire affairs to Sam, Merry, and Pippen.
     See you soon - Beorn

I had to laugh. I loved the reference to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In fact, I'm reading The Hobbit to my kids again. (One more thing I didn't mention I was doing in yesterday's post.

Second Letter and Divine Healing

Another friend wrote to encourage me to be available to seeing miracles happen around me. He referenced a blog that I read on and off called Joel 2 Generation. In fact, my friend went to Portland for a few days for some "training/outreach" that the blog owner was doing. He was present at the healing that is described in the link I just gave you.

I added the blog to my blog roll so I'd remember to read it more often.

I think I've linked Joel 2 Generation before. I love his honesty, as he does not only include success stories, but I-don't-know and nothing-happened stories as well. I've only met two or three guys with the kind of success rate in praying for healing or other miracles as the writer of that blog.

One of those people was my first boss in the Air Force, some 30 years ago. He's surely one of the main reasons I became a Christian. He started praying, and there was no getting in the way of God coming after me.

Anyway, I thought I'd tell you a couple things I told my friend.

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to put a couple Martin Luther quotes on the quote page of my web site (which I did this morning at 4 a.m.). The reason I had a Martin Luther book is because yesterday, I was standing in my bedroom a little bewildered because I had to go to the bathroom and I knew how bad it was going to hurt.

My eyes fell on my 7-volume set of Martin Luther's sermons. I was struck with a craving to read one. Then I felt God whisper, "Go ahead, this trip to the bathroom isn't going to hurt much."

I've said before, God rarely speaks to me in words. It's more feelings, but after 30 years I've gotten pretty good at distinguishing between the Word of God in my heart and my own thoughts or gut feelings. I base that claim on the success of acting on what I hear inwardly. Levels of reliability:

  1. God's Spirit in my heart
  2. Gut feeling/intuition
  3. My thoughts

There's a difference between those three.

I took the book to the bathroom, and what do you know, it barely hurt at all. That was miraculous enough by itself. I also read a part of a sermon that made me realize that sometimes it's not God letting you go through suffering, but it's an attack of the devil, and we should be warring, not surrendering. (Note: I only read a part of the sermon because camping out on the toilet helps create hemorrhoids, not heal them. I try to move on as quickly as possible.)

So afterword, I called for the elders of the church and ask them to come pray for me.

As I was waiting, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I had to go to the bathroom badly. This time, it did hurt, and there was more blood than I'm comfortable with. My wife and I agreed we were going to pray with the elders of the church first, call Vanderbilt later.

As I was waiting for the elders, I prayed, "God, I could really use something from you; can you send someone to give me something spiritual? I know the elders will, but I called them. It would help me to know you sent someone."

Not 30 seconds later, a young lady came in with a guitar and meekly asked, "Is it okay if I sing Papa Shammah a song?" ("Papa Shammah" is what the kids here at Rose Creek Village call me, usually until they're about 25, when they just go to calling me "Shammah.")

The song was the hymn that starts "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness," but updated to a modern version.

I was worn out, tired, in pain, a little worried, and that song was a direct answer to prayer. I cried while she sang. I said thank you, and she quietly walked out, God's little messenger, not wasting any words or speaking any but what God had given her.

The elders came later, anointed me with oil, and that helped a little.

This morning, I was not in so much pain, and I got up to go to our gathering, but it was hard working up the energy. My wife advised me to stay home and rest, and since every step was getting harder, I complied.

During the gathering, I knew they would pray for me, but in this case, I'm pretty certain I knew when they prayed for me. My energy picked up and life in general got a little brighter. I got up and did some exercises with the yoga stretch band.

So here I am writing, grateful for the touch of God. The hemorrhoids are itching, not burning, which for me is a sign of healing. For some reason the recurrent trips to the bathroom have stopped, and I've already tried everything I could think of over the last week to prevent that. I haven't done anything new.

So all of that is probably a bizarre dream world to atheists, but I learned something when Rachel walked in to play her guitar yesterday. I recognized the hymn, even though the tune was different, but I never realize that along with the statement that I wholly lean on Jesus' name, the song also says that all that crazy stuff that I hope and believe in is true. It says that God is paying attention to us, and that our hope will not result in shame. It may not say that in the words, but between the lines that message was being shouted.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the one who puts his trust in you. Their faces shall never be ashamed. (Ps. 34:8,5)


  1. I'm so grateful to God for His quick answer to your prayer! And so grateful to Him that He is helping you and healing you!

  2. Thank you so much for making time to share all of that with us :-) It's a beautiful thing how you let God handle you...
    I hope that you can make a book someday out of all these great blog posts...

    You are awesome Papa Shammah! Love you!


  3. Thanks, Chasah. I get pretty personal in these blogs, so I'm never sure when I'm over the line and giving TMI. I know, though, that others will go through this and wonder whether it's normal to have these kind of problems 6 months after transplant, so I'm trying to help. The doctor raised my steroids this morning. That should make a huge difference on the gut issues, which were almost certainly GVHD.

  4. Chavvah, thank you for your prayers! You're a great friend.

  5. Paul, I believe every word you wrote is true. God is good, He is sovereign and purposeful; He is glad you called on the elders for prayer and further healing and God has honored their requests and your obedience and faith. Will you let me attack this from the ground and come from a different angle?

    I, too, had a SCT, however, mine was an auto. I was as strong willed and determined as you to "get back on my feet and get back to normal" ASAP. Our differences is the type of transplants we having GVHD.

    I can now look back on my experience post treatment and see I was trying to live my crazy type A personality post treatment as a way to prove to myself and all those around me I am ok. This craziness was my way of regaining control of my life. I had tight control of my life and environment before cancer, I lost all control during cancer and I attempted to regain control after cancer, which was impossible because nothing was the same. This need of mine to regain control and back to what was my familiar environment eventually led to my deep descent into a dark depression.

    I am not saying that is where you are headed, I am encouraging you to let your body recover and let your mind accept your circumstances. You had cancer, my friend, you were fighting for your life! You were in the biggest emotional, mental, physical and spiritual battle of your life! It's gonna take time, bro!

    If you are interested, I journaled all through this dark time. I loved God! I knew what to do as a Christian! I was so frustrated I couldn't get back to normal - but God didn't have a purpose for my old normal, a new normal was to come and that new normal was preceded by a dark time of repurposing.

    My journaling is found on my CaringBridge blog - http// You can also link to it from my blog - Http//

    This is making you, pressing you into a humble man of God!

    Blessings - Cyndi

  6. I was looking through these old blog posts for the book I'm working on writing, and I realized I never responded to Cyndi's comment or Jeremiah's email (included in the post).

    I was way overdoing it back in July. It was CRAZY. They were exactly right. It only took me a couple weeks more to figure out the obvious :-D.