Ten Boom The Musical > Ink Link Blog > Articles by: Susan Beyer

JUMP! Satan is Alive and Well 

“JUMP!” I heard someone yell.  The urgency in the male voice startled me, as I was still too far from the mountain landing to leave the safety of my lift chair.

It was my first trip to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort in California.  A friend and I had shared a chair on the ski lift that towed us slowly up the face of the mountain.  The view of Lake Tahoe was breathtaking, surrounded by emerald pine forests as far as the eye could see.

Behind us now, the town of South Lake Tahoe looked like a miniature on the rim of the sapphire blue Lake.

Skis dangling from our feet and ski poles at the ready, the thought of the adventure ahead was exhilarating.  At nineteen and full of self-assurance, if little experience, I could hardly wait to take on “the slopes.”

I have to admit to some butterflies in my stomach, knowing the lift would not stop when we reached that first landing.  I would need to ski off the moving chair, not knowing if I would be suddenly thrust onto a downhill trail toward disaster.

As the landing came in sight, others who had successfully skied off their chairs watched as we approached.  Surely, I could do this!

“JUMP!”  The insistent voice called out again.  Still several feet from the landing, I wondered if maybe momentum would just launch me ahead to safety with the others.

“JUMP, I SAID!”  The command startled me, and I was propelled forward off the chair. Big mistake!

Rescue on the Mountain

As if in slow motion, I felt myself slide backward over the face of the mountain.  The chair and my friend went on by, as another chair passed over my head.  In full panic mode now, I grabbed frantically at icy rocks and small pine brushes that dotted the steep decline.

I could hear people gasp above me, and a large man yelled down to me to, “grab the pole,” he held out.  I could barely reach it, but soon found myself being hauled up over the edge, my heart pounding wildly and tears welling up.  Both my friend and my rescuer nervously scolded me for skiing off the lift too soon. They were obviously as shaken as I was.

“Someone kept yelling at me to JUMP,” I tried to explain to onlookers. Their faces showed concern and relief, but also disbelief—apparently not having heard the voice. It struck me, I could have died on that mountain that day.

It would be years before I understood the source of that malicious voice.  But it would not be the last time that enemy of my soul would shake or try to end my life.

And you can bet, that same enemy who “prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour1” means no less for each of our lives!

Author and Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom, was raised in a family that instilled faith in God and common sense. It had kept her from such precarious situations.  She learned early that life is too precious to risk frivolously, as I had done with my often ill-considered, unskilled and godless escapades.

Yep, Satan is alive and well!

As a young girl, Corrie would have been the one safely enjoying a backyard swing set. While, I was one who had to hang by my heels from the galvanized crossbar above the swings.

Still, each of us in our separate lives was destined to be shadowed by that unfriendly “voice” that meant to do us evil.  For me, captive too young to an abusive marriage; then given to near-misses, still foolishly responding to that prompt to “JUMP” into iffy situations.

For Corrie, after a peaceful family life in Holland, came middle-aged imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps for doing good—hiding Jews from certain death. At that same time, I was still learning to walk, half a world away.

“Satan is alive and well!” I remember hearing that, even as a child, knowing little about the one the Bible calls “the enemy” and “accuser or our souls.”  Coming to trust Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1984, I finally read the scriptures and realized the truth of that enemy.

Can anyone doubt evil exists?  Think of it….

WARS – Statistics show at least 108 million people died in wars in the twentieth century alone.  Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.  HOMICIDES equal nearly 400,000 each year.  ABORTIONS worldwide estimate 235 million (does not include countries where abortion is illegal, or where not reported).  SUICIDES estimate 703,000 each year worldwide.  On and on!  These statistics do not include genocides, medical/disease-related, and other tragic deaths. Nor, the physical and mental anguish many suffer.

Yes, evil lives!

“JUMP!” he says. And, for all the beauty God created here, some will throw caution and virtue to the wind and leap forward into unnecessary trouble and ultimate catastrophe.

Believing the right Voice

One has said, the greatest advantage Satan has, is that most people don’t believe he really exists, or that hell is a real place.  But can we just blame Satan, “The devil made me do it”?

Or is it that many of us, who unwittingly follow that mean-spirited “voice,” don’t believe in a loving God who sacrificed His only Son to save us from our folly, either!

Imagine being in a place where there is NO love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, honesty, mercy; no forgiveness.  That was what Corrie and her family found in those Nazi prisons.  Imagine then, being surrounded by evil and fear… forever. That would be hell!

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie experienced that foretaste of hell in Ravensbruck prison, and yet brought hope and Christ’s love and courage to many who suffered, body and soul, there.  As Corrie wrote, “I was a prisoner, and yet… [in Christ] I was FREE!”

Yes, Satan is alive and well—for now.  The Bible tells us3, “the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”… that, BELIEVING HIM, we might also be free.

The IMPORTANT THING is, to hear and BELIEVE the voice of God through His word—His word is truth!  “Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” the Bible says in John 8:44.  We must choose who we will believe; one leads to death, the Other leads to eternal life!

The GOOD NEWS is, the day is coming when the Lord closes the door to this world, and sends Satan packing, permanently to the pit of hell—telling him to go “JUMP!”

 

1 1 Peter 5:8

2 1 John 3:8

Grace for Grace: The Dream That Inspired the Musical

It seems I had died!  In my dream, I was standing alone before an enormous set of gates. Closed and rising skyward like a mountain peak, the tops of the gates obscured by great billowing white clouds tinged with silver and muted hues of teal. The intricate grill work on the gates was like nothing I had ever seen. Or had I?

On each gate, a tall winged creature was woven into the lattice; gigantic wings pointing toward a creature on the opposite gate.

I remembered then, seeing similar artist renditions of two kneeling angels facing each other atop the Ark of the Covenant.

I was aware of nothing else around me.

Suddenly, I found myself standing inside; the still-closed gates now behind me. A man dressed in white stood several paces ahead with his back to me. As he turned, I recognized Him as Jesus, although unlike most artists ever depict Him. His eyes looked sadly back toward the gates. I turned to see what He was gazing at so intently.

There, desperate hands were reaching through the grill work far below the winged creatures. I could see the people’s lips moving, their eyes pleading to be let in, but could not hear their voices. Turning again, I saw Jesus walking away.

“Those are the hands of many you were meant to tell about Me, and you did not,” I seemed to understand.

Jesus was gone now, and it struck me deeply that He had not said what I’d hoped to hear—Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I had made it safely inside the gates, but sadly I knew the hands that were reaching toward me would be eternally left outside.

Beyond the Gates

That disturbing dream caused me to wonder what it was speaking to me, personally. Not that I believe all dreams have some deeper meaning; but this one was so real.

There, beyond the gates of heaven, I had wondered, “What more could I have done or said that might have made a difference for those outside?”

What might I do now?

The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “God’s GRACE is sufficient.”  It’s humbling to be the recipient of God’s grace when, like Paul, you’ve thought of yourself as “the chief of sinners.”

The SAVING GRACE of God is that, although we deserve Hell for our sinful ways, when we stand before Christ one day (and we will), if we have trusted Him and HIS righteousness to save us, we won’t have to try to justify ourselves by the flimsy, raggish evidence of even our best earthly works. By faith in Him alone, we will be justified!

My dream had seemed to accuse me, “Those are the hands of many you were meant to tell about Me, and you did not!”

However, believing Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be sufficient for salvation, why would I concern myself (in dreams or otherwise) that I had not done enough works?

In Romans 4:4, Paul wrote, “Now to him who works [to earn salvation], the wages are not counted as GRACE, but as DEBT.” Our salvation should cause us to do good works, but “good works” without faith in Christ will not save anyone.

Another Question to Ponder

What will cause the Lord to say to any of us, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’?

Although it is grace through faith in Christ that saves us, in Matthew 25, Christ assures us that the evidence of our love for Him (the “fruit” of our faith) will be the acts of the heart that we have done toward others. God will reward us according to the works we did whole-heartedly toward the hungry and thirsty, widows and orphans, those in prison; any in need of comforting, as though serving Christ Himself.

“What you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto Me,” Jesus said. It seems the more we extend our love and grace to others, the more Christ is served, and the more love and grace comes to us. Grace for Grace!

Birthing a Dream

Not long after my dream, my sister Donna Marquean Griggs and I began writing a musical stage play the Lord had put on my heart in 1986. I had procrastinated about that calling all those years. It’s the powerful true story of Christian author and Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. Donna and I finally set her story to music.

It took a dream to begin the project in 2009—and “Ten Boom the Musical” was born!

Corrie’s life was full of grace for others; loving and serving millions in Christ through her testimony and her many books. I believe she would not have looked back at reaching hands when she entered heaven’s gates. Telling her story hopes to reach many more “hands” for His kingdom.

Near the end of Ten Boom the Musical, Corrie is about to be led away by a Nazi prison guard, when another prisoner who has mocked Corrie’s faith for months suddenly runs to her. Desperately, she asks Corrie how she can know God, before the Nazis take her life.

Corrie and “Giselle” sing the play’s signature song, “Imagine Perfect Love,” and Corrie’s amazing story ends on a high note after all!

~ ~ ~

Forgiving Our Enemies

In this New Year, many are reeling from the events of 2020; troubled by the prospect of what lies ahead. Covid-19 took a large toll on America and the world. So much was lost to it—businesses, jobs, security, certain freedoms, closeness with others—and, most tragically, many precious lives. It seems now, even America as we knew it might be lost.

Anger and frustration have reached a boiling point in many places. Sadly, forgiving our enemies and being compassionate to one another seems a distant concept for many in today’s climate.

People wonder about the future, while myriad voices seek to place blame and use their influence, even the pandemic itself, to gain an upper hand. Some, with ominous agendas, have fueled the emotions of others, only to create more havoc. Why? And where is it all going?

A while back I wrote a blog titled, “Remembering Corrie—Love, Don’t Hate,” based on the true story of Corrie ten Boom, who suffered and survived a Nazi death camp during WW2. If anyone had reason to hate and want to “cancel” her enemies, it was Corrie.  At one point, seeing monstrous injustice all around her, Corrie allowed hatred for the enemy to grip her heart briefly. Then she was reminded of the One who suffered most at the hands of the enemy. One who was nailed to a cross He chose to embrace as He sacrificed His life for our sins. Corrie’s heart melted at that remembrance.  Her sins had been forgiven, and she must forgive and love others as He did.

I also know what it’s like to be forgiven much!

A few years ago, I awoke very early, trying to find just the right words to write about His forgiveness in a new book. Not knowing how to begin, finally I prayed, “Lord how would YOU have us see forgiveness?” Almost instantly, the words came.  I was impressed to see forgiveness through Jesus’ own eyes—from HIS vantage point on the Cross.

The following is what I believe the Lord gave me that morning…

From the Cross

From my vantage point, high above the crowd—my vision all but obscured by the blood forming around my eyes, the faces of so many blur at times. I know each face… each heart… each of their dreams… what causes them joy… every tear ever shed. I know the fear in some who would rather I died, taking with me the knowledge of their secrets, than to confess the shame that placed me here.

The pain that racks my physical body, nailed here as I AM, is nothing compared to that which has taken over my mind. My eyes meet theirs as the depth or shallowness of each heart is consumed in me. My one link to Sanity [the Father] is distant now—grieving, and yet too Holy to look on the sins I willingly take upon myself.

The eyes below are unable to grasp what is happening at this critical hour—or why I came.  I know why each life is here—how it began—how it ends.   Some have come to empathize with me and, having forsaken their own way, to trust. They mourn my impending death, having yet to understand the need of it. Many look upon me and suffer deeply within themselves, FOR themselves, what they cannot let go of—cannot FORGIVE.  Still others are here to watch curiously, my nakedness twisting, rising and falling, as I struggle for one more breath. 

I hear the anguished cries below me—ABOVE me, INSIDE me.  And the mocking. They wanted it this way. But I know who and what they are.  I created them.  I LOVE them, even as they struggle to disconnect—part of them wanting to be free of me; part of them wanting to believe I would never leave them, nor forsake them—even now.

In this moment, so close to dying, I willingly lay down my life for ALL of them—from the foundations of the earth, throughout millennia to come—taking to myself every tear, every earthly pain; every vile and merciless act; until it seems my heart will burst.    

And now, before I FINISH this, I make one last plea on their behalf, as their true FRIEND.

To pray, with every fiber of my being, words that echo through my pain-racked head and mingle with my own blood, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” I would have to be God.  I AM! 

God SO loved us

There He was, beaten and tortured by those who thought He had been only a “trouble-maker,” not knowing they were crucifying the sinless son of God. The One who was born to die for our sins, because God the Father SO loved us!

Maybe you, like me for the first forty years of my life, are unable to grasp what incredible thing happened on the Cross that day in Jerusalem. I know now it wasn’t the end, nor merely another human tragedy. It was the most crucial event of all time that purposed to rescue you and me from a fallen world, that we might spend eternity with our Creator in the place He has prepared for those who love Him.

Is that not more than amazing?

Colossians 1:12-15 says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

He laid down His earthly life in one final, excruciating, sacrificial, once-for-all act of FORGIVENESS.

For our own Peace of Mind…

I read these words over and over, as I have listened to the news lately. I want only to live my faith as a Christian woman and a free American; to treat others as I would have them treat me. That’s also a seemingly forgotten concept today!

But, for our own peace of mind, we must remember God made us and He loves all of us.

He said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING each other just as, in Christ, God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  He said to, “Bear with each other and FORGIVE one another, if any of you has a grievance against someone” (Colossians 3:13). Importantly, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. FORGIVE, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

Christ JesusGod with us on earthsaid, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have PEACE. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart—I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).

Trusting Him, we will also overcome!

 

George and “The Blessing”

“I need a reliable car to get to work,” I prayed. “Something affordable, even on my salary!”

My pastor had said. “When you pray, be SPECIFIC,” So, I added to my car prayer, “And, Lord, could you please make it a WHITE one? Maybe I could handle $50 a month?!”

The answer was more than I could have ever imagined!

Nearly two years of chasing after Nashville metro buses, dodging raindrops, and showing up for work looking like a hurricane victim, had taken its toll. I was thankful to work and study at Belmont College then. But wages in academia are nothing like what I made in the music business, where I’d spent many years singing and traveling. Yes, my lifestyle had changed drastically; wonderfully!  However, my new budget laughed at a car payment of any size.

For many years, I’d performed across America and beyond with my own show, and later with Opry star, Whispering Bill Anderson. But, in 1984, finding deep faith in Jesus Christ, my tune had definitely changed.

A musician I’d worked with named Aaron had also quit the road for a time, and had taken a sales position with a local Ford dealership. I asked him to keep an eye out for a used car. “Even a klunker,” I told him. No specifics this time.

Does God Answer Car Prayers?

It was a busy day for me at Belmont when Aaron finally called. “Come right away. I think I’ve found your car, and the owner is here!”

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s a 1972 Ford Grand Torino.”

“Great!” I said, as if I had a clue what that was. No matter, it was a car!

I left work and ran to catch the #2 Belmont bus to town. Another bus would take me north toward Goodlettsville. It was a long ride, and at that time, the bus only went so far up Gallatin Road. I’d have to walk the last mile to where my “new” car waited.

Aaron was standing outside the big glass dealership windows, as I puffed up the driveway past rows of gleaming new, and unaffordable for me, 1986 models. He grabbed a key and led me to the used car lot.

“THAT’S IT!” I pointed out, excitedly.

“How did you know?” asked Aaron.

“It’s WHITE!” I said, resolutely.

It was love at first sight, even with a conspicuous hump on the massive hood that hid a V8 engine. Climbing behind the wheel, I realized I’d have to sit on maybe a large phone book to see over the hump. Otherwise… PERFECT!

“What kind of payment arrangement can we work out?” I asked the owner. Without hesitation he said, “How about $50 a month?”

An answer to prayer. The humpy, white car was a definite blessing!

Me and “The Blessing”

The Blessing and I were an unlikely match. No matter; I was just thrilled to have wheels again!

One afternoon, however, driving to lunch, the car suddenly went silent and rolled to a stop. Fortunately, just half a block ahead was a large gas station with open bay doors. A heavy-set mechanic was standing up under a raised vehicle. I left The Blessing and walked to the station.

Seeing me coming, the man ambled up to me, wiping grease off his hands; partially on a shop cloth and leaving a little for the side of his pants. Across his pocket was the name GEORGE.

“Okay, so what can I do for you?” he grumped. Something had already gotten on George’s last nerve, and I was one more interruption. I quickly pointed to where my car sat “dead as a door nail,” and was surprised when he dropped everything and followed me down the street.

Trying the key just once, George said, “Dead battery! I’ll tow it to the garage and put it on the charger.” 

“OK, how long will that take?” I asked.

“Well, you can’t go anywhere until we recharge your battery, can you!?” he crabbed. It was a slow day for the station, and while we waited the hour it took to recharge The Blessing’s huge battery, George and I had a long talk. My faith in Christ was so new and, George’s mood aside, I was more than eager to share about it.

George’s Side of the Story

At first, George was reluctant to listen, but finally shared about his own “religious” experience.

He had a brother somewhere he hadn’t spoken to in years; a preacher George had decided was just a “big know-it-all.” George was “sick and tired” of hearing about religion, and how he personally needed to “repent” of some things. He had long-since separated himself from “all those religious folks.” His brow remained knit; as I told him what I understood was the difference between religion and a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus.

“Yeah, I’ve heard all that!” George said, impatiently. Still, he seemed drawn to the conversation and almost sorry when it was time for me and The Blessing to leave.

“How much do I owe you, George?” I asked.

“No charge,” he waved off my question. “By the way,” he added, “Your car has an oil leak, and a few other parts that could use replacing. But, don’t buy the parts from the cheapskate who owns this station,” he continued, “Buy them at AutoZone down the street, and I’ll put them in for nothing!” 

“Thanks, George. Nice talking with you!” I waved goodbye and hopped behind the wheel.

A Divine Appointment?

The Blessing had run just fine, until it died that day. Apparently, so I could meet George.

Now, it seemed, every few weeks some part or other needed replacement. Each time, George told me what to pick up at AutoZone. Somehow, the money was there for the parts. And George was true to his word, never allowing me to pay him a penny for his labor.

Each time the car went back to the garage, George would ask about God, even as he argued at each point, until it seemed he had exhausted all his objections.

George always expressed amazement that the car kept running at all, especially after it had begun to rock spastically, when idling at a stoplight. I got some interesting looks from people in cars next to me. Others suggested I replace the car, saying it would embarrass them to be seen in it, shimmying like that.

“You’re too classy to ride around in such a car,” one friend told me. But The Blessing was what I could afford, and I was glad to have it. How could I not be thankful even for a “convulsing, humpy, old gas hog,” as one had called it; that made life easier for me, and gave me the opportunity to talk Jesus with George?

Good old George!  By that time, he’d heard all my stories about this and other blessings, since I turned my life over to the Lord.

It had been months now since George told me about the major oil leak, and his latest examination of the car caused him to look at me as if to prepare a patient for the “C” word.

“It doesn’t look good!” George said, shaking his head. “We need to open the engine and see how many cylinders are down. Leave it here a few days. After all,” he assured me, “This will not be just a little replacement part!”

To my surprise, George called late that afternoon.

Some Kind of Miracle

“You need to come and see this with your own eyes,” George said.

“What’s wrong, George?”

 “Just get out here,” George almost commanded. “You’re not going to believe this!” 

When I arrived at the station, I saw a grease-covered George, impatiently waving me into the garage. His black hair looked like it had also sprung an oil leak, and he was particularly red in the face. A bit overweight, George had no doubt spent one too many days eating corn chips in lieu of lunch from the vending machine, as he applied his skills for people like me, without even taking a decent break.

Peering his head from under The Blessing’s generous hood, he said, “Miss Susan, I opened the engine. Look in there!” I leaned over the large radiator trying to see what had him so perplexed.

“Can’t you see it?” he griped, pointing out the substantial rust on some of the cylinders.

“Do you not understand?” George was frustrated now; apparently thinking my blond hair had clogged my brains.

 “THERE IS NO WAY ON GOD’S EARTH THIS CAR SHOULD BE RUNNING!”

 “Look at the rust build-up on those five cylinders—they’re rusted shut! I’d say you’ve been running on only THREE of eight cylinders for about six months. THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE!”

I had assured George months before that my car was a blessing, and this cinched it!

“I’m going back to church!” George said, scratching his head with an oily wrench.

The Rest of the Story

I sold The Blessing right after that, to a young mechanic George referred me to who thought it would be a collector’s item one day. I was finally able to buy another, newer car.

A few months later, I went by the station to see how my friend George was doing. I wanted to thank him again for all he had done to help me with an old “clunker” that had turned out to be a Blessing. But George was gone!  No one seemed to know where, for sure.

George had finally admitted, it was a “by-God miracle” that kept The Blessing on the road all that time.

My guess is, George went home to mend his relationship with his brother; and with the One who loved him enough to send The Blessing to show him that—miracles still happen!

~~~

[True story from Susan Meredith Beyer’s book—Above “Reality”: Where Miracles Happen and Healing Begins—available in print or Kindle at Amazon]

The Dark Road to Minot

Winter is no time to travel alone on the icy roads of North Dakota with temperatures in the single digits. Still, my cross-over country music show had been booked at Minot Air Force Base, and we were determined to make the date.

We had just finished performing in Sioux Falls, and my band went home to Ohio for a week. I was happy to be with my three children in Rochester, Minnesota that Thanksgiving week, before driving on alone to Minot with all our equipment in tow; nearly 600 miles away.  The band was to meet up in Minot, December 1st.

Our touring vehicle, an older black Cadillac limousine, pulling a 14-foot U-Haul trailer, was altogether a three-ton anomaly that shook heads wherever we went. Maybe it was the pink seals boasting my initials, SM, on the limo’s front doors! My band enjoyed telling people the SM stood for Sam’s Mortuary or almost anything but Susan Meredith, the name my manager gave me when he promised to make me a big star.

The North Dakota weather forecast called for freezing temps and several more inches of snow. Although the highway was clear enough to Bismarck, U.S. Hwy 83 North would be an arrow-straight, desolate road for the next 110 miles to Minot. I was already fighting sleep, but affording a motel was not an option.

After paying my agent and bills back home, I had barely enough money to put gas in the tank. The rig only got about seven miles per gallon, and I was down to half a tank of gas. No credit cards, and less than ten dollars in my pocket.

I’d made it to a gas station where a sign read LAST STOP—GET YOUR GAS HERE. The station manager called it, “The point of no return.” I put my last few dollars in the tank.  Only my pride kept me from asking him for a free fill-up in exchange for something in my trailer. I would soon wish I’d swallowed my pride!

It was dark now, as I left the station; like driving into a cave. There would be no street lights or places to stop before reaching Minot. Snow fell harder, and the wind had picked up. Sleet swept across the car’s wide black hood, making it hard to steer, as the security of the little gas station lights faded from view.

What was I doing?  Was I really headed toward musical success for me and my children, or had I lost my direction altogether?

DESPERATE PRAYERS

I had begun to pray somewhere back on the road, when calculating the amount of gas and money needed to finish the trip.  It hadn’t added up in my favor.

“God, if you’re there, please get me to Minot, please don’t let me run out of gas and die out here!” 

I hadn’t thought about God in many years. I still believed He could not be known really, but my prayers that night in the dark Dakotas became more and more desperate, until it was all I could think about. Fear and begging for mercy—mile after mile!

The wind and snow blew harder now, and the windshield wipers on high could not keep the windshield clear. But if I stopped, I’d get stuck in the snow.  I had heard about people freezing to death up here. Other and wiser travelers had avoided U.S. 83 that night, as I could count the cars I’d passed on one hand. 

“Please, God, I won’t ever put myself in this position again, please don’t let me die out here in this—my children need me.  Please get me to Minot, please God!”

Suddenly, the limo felt as if it would blow off the road as an 18-wheeler blew past me on my left. How could he go that fast in this? I’d been staring at the road ahead and praying so hard, I hadn’t seen him coming up on me. Maybe he would help me, I thought. But he was already gone—his huge red tail lights growing smaller ahead.

Just as I regained a steady grip on the steering wheel, two more headlights grew large in the opposite lane in front of me. Another monster blew past in the dark—the last vehicle I would see from that point on.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

My fuel gauge was on E. Nearly 40 miles to go, and the tank was empty! “Please, God…!” Near panic, my mind spun, trying to think what to do.  I hadn’t seen anything but snow and a couple of “uncaring” trucks on the road for more miles than I recalled. I searched for lights of a farmhouse along the road. But visibility made my world only a little larger than the limousine.

I tried to remember anything I’d learned about God in that little church Mom had sent us to briefly, long ago.  Nice people went there—although not Mom and Dad. “Normal people,” I thought; even if they prayed to a God they couldn’t see.

I remembered a song they sang, “Fairest Lord Jesus.” I tried singing to calm myself: Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature, O Thou art God and man the Son… Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

“But what did it mean really?” I wondered. “God, HELP ME!”

Just ahead, a sign appeared on the side of the road: ROAD CLOSED AHEAD—EXIT RIGHT.  My eyes strained to see through the slush-covered windshield. “Exit right, WHERE?”

I saw nowhere to turn off. Suddenly, a huge barrier stood just yards ahead of me—six feet high with letters that read: ROAD CLOSED.

I did the worse thing a driver can do on snow and ice and slammed on my brakes, fearing there could be maybe a hundred-foot drop on the other side of that barrier. I all but stopped breathing as the massive front end of the limousine smashed through—splintering wood in every direction. I ducked as it came toward the windshield, but somehow it all blew over the top of the car. I felt the tires bump and slide as the rig began to twist to the left.

“Is this it? Am I going to die out here, God?”

I could see the side of the U-Haul trailer, too close in my left side mirror.  It seemed forever before the car and trailer buckled in one last jolt and came to a stop.

The wind howled around me as I stepped out of the car on rubbery legs. The pavement on this section of highway had been removed, for some reason, leaving an icy stretch of dirt clods and debris.  No one had seen me go through the barrier. I was alone. The rig had jackknifed, badly twisting the tongue of the trailer. The engine was now silent.

“Oh, God, what do I do? PLEASE help me!”

I don’t remember being as cold as I was scared stiff, at that point, but I was thankful to be alive and unhurt. My gas gauge had read below empty for more than thirty miles, and I was certain the engine had made its last sound.

GRACE EVEN SO

I waited to see if someone, a police car, anyone, would come. No one! I was shaking so hard, I couldn’t think. Of course, that was my problem. If I had been thinking straight, I wouldn’t be out here!

Climbing back into the car, I said what might have been my last prayer. Surely, I couldn’t survive the night there. I thought to try the key and was surprised beyond belief when the engine roared to life.

Still jittery, I rolled forward to straighten the rig, then headed back to find the exit that sign had mentioned. There it was—a one-lane path headed down to another road. Orange detour signs led me to the highway some miles up. I feared the engine would go silent again, but somehow it kept going.  Finally, another sign: MINOT CITY LIMITS.

I pulled up to the curb at the Minot motel late that night, and the limo’s huge engine died. I was safe at last. Tears came.

Did I thank God? Probably not!  But I told everyone I thought it was a “miracle.”  Next morning, when the band tried to start the engine, the gas tank was so dry it took a few gallons of gas for primer to get to a service station.

At that point in my life, I didn’t really know what Jesus had to do with anything, but after that, I was apt to think, “Certainly, God must be real.”

I suppose I’d chalked that Minot experience up to “luck” or “fate,” or “It’s just wasn’t my time to go.” I was just thankful I would live to see my three precious children—Mike, Kevin and Mindy—and life would go on.

Still, it would be eight years, before I understood what happened that night. Eight years before I would meet the One who surely heard my desperate prayers—knowing that one day I would be His.

On that dark road to Minot, a loving God had extended His amazing grace to a foolish young woman who was way too far from home. In His mercy, He had shown even me, His power to save.

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[From Susan’s book, “Above Reality: Where Miracles Happen and Healing Begins” – Purchase at Amazon.com]

Dusty Ole King James

There were few children’s books in my childhood home in California in the fifties.  Don’t know why, but reading wasn’t stressed by our parents; other than for school homework.  I remember we had a couple of Judy Bolton Mystery books. I liked those. Also, a well-worn Mother Goose book, and a hardbound collection of Grimm’s fairy tales. I see now, the value of taking children to a local library.

The books that otherwise lined our mahogany-paneled room dividers back then included a long-out-of-date set of encyclopedias, and other unappealing literature.

However, one book stood out to me, even as a young girl.  Mom told us the book was “too sacred” to touch, or “couldn’t be understood.”  A few times, she even described it as, “the dirtiest book in the world.”  She must have been having a bad day!  But, that sparked my childish curiosity!

One day, when it got the best of me, I dusted off the cover and began to read.

The first part, about how God made the world, was riveting. However, coming to the “begats,” I lost interest.  Why all those “funny” names anyway, I wondered?  I didn’t know the Bible was actually 66 books in one.

It would be decades before I attempted to read such a book again.  I just left that dusty ole King James Bible on the shelf.  Whatever happened to that mysterious old volume, I don’t know; but for many years, it seemed to beckon me.

Creativity Sparked By Guilt

I can’t remember what I did wrong one day that caused terrible guilt feelings, but at twelve years old, I wasn’t about to confess whatever it was to another person on earth.  So, I thought of God and that dusty old King James Bible, and decided to write my first song.  Remember now, I was only 12…

                Maybe I’m a sinner and maybe I ain’t… I hear you calling but your voice is faint

               Yes, maybe I’m a sinner, but when I go… Don’t let me go down below.

               I hear you calling in an anxious way… I was wrong, I owe a price, and now I must pay

               Yes, maybe I’m a sinner, but when I go… Don’t let me go down below.

[Bridge]   O Lord hear my plea, and have mercy on me… I’d rather be in He-eh-ehven with thee

               His voice is getting louder, and I am getting hotter, And to Him I must go

               I’m going very slowly, but when I go… Don’t let me go down below.

Well, you might know, the song wasn’t a hit (go figure!), but somehow just writing it made me feel better.  Years later, I would recognize that what I had written in those desperate, albeit juvenile lyrics might be called a “sinner’s prayer”—a prayer for salvation.

It would be nearly thirty years before I would say an even more desperate prayer—February 27, 1984—seeking God’s forgiveness for a whole lot of foolishness in my life. I believe now, He was listening the first time. But, this time it would change my life for good.

Another Road, Another Song

Prior to that 1984 prayer, I had toured as a background and duet singer with Grand Ole Opry star “Whispering” Bill Anderson’s show, all over America, Canada and parts of Europe and the Caribbean. We even appeared on a daytime drama, “One Life To Live,” for a season.  Before joining “Whisper,” I had been on the road nearly thirteen years with my own show.

I’m thankful for that experience, but I became weary of the endless trips that took me away from my three children back home in Nashville. I admit, I hadn’t thought much about God in years… nor that dusty ole King James Bible. You know, the one I had poured my heart out to in song at age 12.

Now, past 30, life had become too great a challenge.  I was tired of the road, cynical about the future for me and my children, and discouraged about my prospects for music, or any other kind of real success.  Running On Empty, as the old hit song goes!

It was 1981, and I was applying my makeup in the small bathroom on Bill Anderson’s Silver Eagle bus one early morning. The other members of the show still slept in their bunks as our bus driver, James, drove on down the still-darkened highway toward our next gig. Looking in that bathroom mirror, lipstick in hand, I decided to write another song.  Too cynical for my own good, but thinking I was pretty clever, the song made me laugh.

I think now the Lord was not laughing… He was going to have to rescue me.

As I remember, the song went like this…

       I remember the day that my daddy took me there… To the John Jacob New Revival Church

       No, there wasn’t a day that we didn’t say a prayer… In the John Jacob New Revival Church

       [Dum dum de dum… can’t remember this line]… Don’t be shy, and you’ll find the words to say

       Put your two hands together and raise your voice up high, ‘Cause He’s listening, no matter where you pray

       Oh, the very best prayer that this girl has ever said

       Was in the John (in the John).. In the John (in the John)… In the John Jacob New Revival Church.

Now, if that doesn’t tell you I needed saving—or at the very least slapped—what can I say!?

Even so, a few years after that, I found God’s grace and mercy in a large Nashville church, when the Lord had to speak right out loud, to get my attention.  He DID!

You see, I went to that church at the lowest time of my life, feeling angry and defeated; thinking to shake my fist in God’s face. I challenged Him, in my mixed-up mind, to “show Yourself or I’ll never believe You, ever.”  He DID!

Seek and You Will Find

I learned that day that all I had rejected about God and Jesus Christ was real after all.  And that everything I had thought was true was a lie!  The most important truth I, or anyone else, could ever know!  It was what Corrie ten Boom spent her life sharing with others, even in Nazi prison camps. Now I understood why she did that!

Ten Boom the Musical

In 2009, with God’s help, my sister Donna Griggs and I were blessed to co-write some really wonderful songs for our stage play, “Ten Boom the Musical.”

Faith in Jesus Christ blows the dust off any of our hopeless philosophies and habits! That ole King James Bible that my family allowed to gather dust all those years, had held the treasure of the heart of God.

Once you get that Good News in your own heart, you just have to tell others. It really is a matter of life and death, hope or despair, making sense of this world, or being ever-confused by it.  It’s a choice God allows each of us to make.

Praying you will choose to find that treasure, and do life His way.  He loves you!

Deliver Us From Evil | Refuse the Mark

The Lord’s prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Many translations say, “…from the evil one.”

When the Nazis forced their way into Corrie ten Boom’s family home on February 28, 1944, the family’s work with the Dutch Resistance ceased abruptly. But, not before they had hidden and rescued well over 800 Jews from certain death.

Nazi soldiers terrorized members of Corrie’s family that day, searching everywhere for evidence of hidden Jews. Thankfully, they could not find their hiding place; a secret room built into the wall off Corrie’s bedroom. Sadly, the ten Boom’s were arrested along with visiting friends, thirty-five in all, and many never came back.

No doubt, those perilous times had many convinced that what the Bible describes as “the last days” had arrived. Daniel wrote of them in his book of the Revelation. The apostle Paul detailed them in I Thessalonians. And Jesus told of what would come, in Matthew chapter 24. The book of Revelation’s chilling prophecies surely seemed to have found their fulfillment as Hitler’s third Reich stormed across Europe. However, according to scripture, certain things would have to be in place before the Biblical “Antichrist” would come. Certain signs would be evident.

The World War II years (1937-1945) gave rise to powerful dictators in Russia, China, Italy and Japan. Yet, none seemed equal in malevolence to a freakishly unstoppable leader named Adolf Hitler. If ever there was a being who fit the description of that “man of sin,” surely the German Chancellor showed all the marks.

A Type of Antichrist

Corrie and her Christian family had lived peaceful lives in Haarlem, Holland, until those years; later to become unwittingly embroiled in intrigue and danger. With Germany so close by, radio stations bellowed with talk of the new Austrian-born dictator. The pounding voice of Hitler himself, with his persuasive speeches, stole peace from many hearts. Yet, many hungry people listened to Hitler’s impassioned rhetoric, hopeful he might lift Germany out of its economic doldrums. Blindly, they tuned in, even to his talk of eliminating Jews and others Hitler deemed “unnecessary to the new order.”

As madness became reality, it might have seemed to more discerning people that this was surely the end of the world.

Not taken in by Hitler’s ear-tickling promises, the ten Boom family trusted God and His word to sustain them. But, soon the harsh treatment and disappearances of so many Jewish neighbors prompted the ten Boom’s to join The Resistance. If Hitler was not the Antichrist, he was certainly a type of antichrist—a twisted soul bent on the destruction of others.  In the end, Adolf Hitler could claim responsibility for the deaths of more than six million Jews. Not to mention, millions who fought necessarily, including countless Americans, to defeat him and his cancerous regime.

Power and violence drove Adolf Hitler, but his regime came to a terrible end. Speculation moved on then, seeking to identify the Bible’s true “man of sin” in other world figures.

Who then is the infamous Antichrist, and what are his Marks?

For centuries, Bible scholars and historians have pondered that mystery. Numerous books and films have conjectured about “The Mark Of The Beast” and the meaning of the mysterious number 666. Even nighttime talk show hosts, comedians and others have speculated about the possible identity of the “666” man. Calculating the numerical value of various names, they jokingly ascribed the number to various opposing political figures, e.g. Ronald Wilson Reagan (six letters, three times). However, they seemed to care little about the possibility that the prophecy was true.

The Book of Revelation describes the vision God gave to John the Apostle (c. 100 AD), while exiled on the island of Patmos. The book reveals that Antichrist will be a popular, charismatic figure who will apparently rise out of Europe; a restored Roman Empire.  He will win over many, if not most people with his seemingly benevolent, sincere façade. He’ll fool “even the elect, if it were possible.” However, scripture assures us his true intent is to ensnare; ultimately to steal, kill and destroy.

In Revelation 13:18, any “person of understanding” is challenged to “calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man,” it says. But, what man?

I John 2:18 tells us that “many antichrists have already come into the world.” However, this ultimate “man of sin” will be revealed during the “last days.” This will be the most horrendous time ever in human and world history—the Great Tribulation.

His name? The Bible tells us that those who see him standing in the Jewish temple proclaiming himself to be God will know he is the one.

The Antichrist | Refuse His Lie

A clever liar and deceiver who will be indwelt by Satan himself—the “father of lies”—this singular world leader will demand that all people take his MARK, or be destroyed.

Revelation 13:16-17 says,  “He [Antichrist] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a MARK on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has that “mark,” or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

Until recently, it had not occurred to me as to WHY, exactly, Antichrist would want people to wear his mark “on the forehead or right hand.”  I believe scripture gives us the best clues.

GOD’s Mark on Believers

Think of the “MARK” GOD places on those who believe Him through faith in Jesus Christ.  The LORD’S mark or seal for believers in Him also regards the right hand and the forehead:

The mark of God’s right hand of righteousness is on the believer, the Bible tells us. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” …Isaiah 41:10

The words “right hand” occurs 166 times in the Bible so it is no accident that the words “right hand” have significant meaning.

God inspired Isaiah to write “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you” (Isaiah 41:13).

The right hand signifies strength. The term “God’s right hand” in prophecy refers to the Messiah (the Christ) to whom is given the power and authority to subdue His enemies, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. The right hand of God is exalted! (Psalm 110:1; Psalm 118:16, Mark 16:19, Matthew 22:44).

The Mind of Christ

The Bible says, the “mark” of God gives believers the very MIND of Christ—His indwelling Holy Spirit confirms God’s truth, and the knowledge of Him in their hearts.

Read I Corinthians 2:7-16 below:

“We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  As it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.

 For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But, the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they can only be spiritually discerned. But, he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

These are God’s promises to believers—Jesus said we “MUST BE BORN AGAIN.” A spiritual rebirth, whereby we are marked, SEALED by His Holy Spirit, that we may know whom we believe and be saved from the power of sin and death. God wants that ALL should be saved!  But, each one must humbly choose Him!

John’s vision revealed HOPE for true believers: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast [Antichrist] or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” [Revelation. 20:4]

The Beast’s Counterfeit Mark

Can you see why Satan would want to steal that from believers? It’s our very salvation that Antichrist (indwelt by Satan) wants to steal!

Satan has always been a counterfeiter, holding out to human beings what seems to be gold, when it’s really “fools gold.” His plan is to place his own permanent seal or MARK on those who choose not to believe God through His Son, Jesus (Y’shua) the Christ.

Just as God’s MARK is permanent (believers sealed forever in Christ), Satan’s MARK is also permanent for those who believe him.  Revelation 14:11 tells us, “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the MARK of his name.”

Corrie ten Boom and her family knew that whenever Antichrist would come, whoever he turns out to be, they must NOT take “The Mark Of The Beast.”  They chose to follow Christ, and to share the Good News (the Gospel of Christ) with others, even while imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, that others might be saved for eternity with Him.

Corrie’s dear friend, the late Reverend Billy Graham, wrote 5 critical answers to questions about the End Times.

~ ~ ~ ~

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  (John 3:16-17)

There are many signs in these times that scripture has warned of for millennia. Consider your eternity in light of God’s word, and whatever you do, or must suffer, trust God who is faithful and… REFUSE THE MARK OF THE BEAST!

Above Reality: Where Miracles Still Happen

ABOVE “REALITY” is a partial autobiography… my personal story of growing up lost, always wondering about God, and hearing His voice in a pained plea for Him to prove Himself.

God was not a subject for discussion at home, growing up.  I often escaped reality in dreams of becoming a musical star.  But, marrying too young, I went from battered wife to struggling single-mother of three, and later to Nashville music performer still hungry to know God.

In 1984, having lost everything, God became real, and everything changed!

The following is the introduction to my book, Above “Reality”: Where Miracles Happen and Healing Begins.  If you’ve longed to know God; if you’ve heard Corrie ten Boom’s and others’ testimonies of faith, and wondered how they could be so sure of Him, I hope you will also read my story. Yes, God is real!

“You’re going home, Susan!” The voice spoke to me as clearly as anyone ever had in my life. It was the second time I heard those same words as I sat frozen, unable to move from my place in the sprawling sanctuary of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville. Fear gripped me at the sound of the bodiless male voice that spoke so calmly, but with such unnerving authority.  It was not at all how the movies had ever portrayed the voice of God.  No thunder, no heavy reverb, but with an unmistakable finality that caused my heart to pound wildly and my resolve to begin to crumble like a snowy peak breaking up before an avalanche.

Near panic, I thought to bolt for the door, but even the slightest movement made me fear I would shatter into uncontrollable tears and humiliate myself before so many strangers. My life had been out of control for so long, and I felt certain these “do-gooders” (I called them) would not understand or care that I had lost all but the last bit of heart to live. I could not have guessed what God was about to do that would change my life forever!

The One I was always told was “unknowable” showed me that Sunday morning in 1984, He will move heaven and earth in our lives. And sometimes speak right out loud, if we earnestly seek Him. He wants us to know Him! He CAN be known!

The most brilliant among us in this world lives out our years with little more than a philosophy about why we exist at all, and calls it “reality.” Our perception of truth is limited by our waning physical strength, fickle emotions, self-motivated opinions, and a short supply of any faith that counts.

Most tragically for many, reality is a prison of seemingly impossible circumstances forged by our own or others failings apart from the One who loves us most of all. It doesn’t have to be that way!

In my book I share some of my own experiences, believing God. Were they miracles? I’ll leave that to your own faith to consider. I offer them in my book, just as they happened.

We were created to live connected to the One who created us… without that connection, understanding this life is impossible! But, with God ALL things are possible!

God loved me at my worst, and I can’t help but love Him back. He loves you, too! I pray you will seek after Him and not stop looking until you find Him, then hang on for dear life. You won t be disappointed!

The Lord knows my weaknesses and my fears. He hears my complaints and my prayers. He admonishes me regularly, that I might grow up to be more faithful. And, most amazingly, He extends His all-sufficient grace to me when I least deserve it.

If I accomplish nothing else with this book, I pray that every reader will be impacted by a deep understanding of God’s amazing GRACE. He invites even the worst of sinners to surrender that “worst” to Him; to look beyond what we call reality here, and share a personal relationship with Him, even now, above “reality,” where miracles still happen, and healing begins!

I pray now you will seek to know Him. It’s a life or death matter!

He is the reason Corrie ten Boom was able to survive three concentration camps in 1944; the reason she shared God’s love there during the Holocaust and all over the world, in person and in her many books, including “The Hiding Place.”

In these times, when the world seems as shadowy as in those World War 2 days, there is peace to be found, and assurance of God’s love in Jesus Christ.  [Matthew 7:7-8]

Superman | What Real Love Looks Like

I had a strange dream a while back. It was so real, I couldn’t get it off my mind. So, I decided to share it with my good friend “Kathy,” who had recently sent me a Tony Gaskins article titled, “What A Real Man’s Love Looks Like.”

In my dream, I and several others were preparing for some sort of event. I noticed our swimming pool (the one we don’t actually have) needed cleaning and was covered with fallen leaves and twigs. As I waited for instructions on what to do about that…

I looked up and saw SUPERMAN flying across the sky at tremendous speed.  His face was heavenward, as he lay on something like a large fiery bullet. Flames surrounded his neck at the tip of the object.

The voice of a news broadcaster was reporting, “Superman is removing the object at the risk of his own life. He will not let it go, even as his head and neck are in the fire!”

Suddenly the dream changed…

My husband was driving our car, his brow creased with concern, as I rode silently beside him. He had managed to cut a cantaloupe in thirds, and as he drove on, he held a piece of it on the back of his neck to cool the burn. I commented about how “clever” it was of him to think to do that. But he just turned and looked at me with obvious pain in his eyes and said, “It really hurts, Susan!”

I woke up, startled.

Some Kind of Superman

As I lay there thinking about my dream, I was reminded just how hard men like my husband work to show love for their wives. And yet, how fragile men can be in some ways.  So much is expected of them. And real men, who really love and take responsibility for their role as men, bear it well, if we women would only stop to recognize it.

I looked at my still-sleeping husband in the dim light of the room and wanted to say, “Forgive me, for looking to you sometimes to be some kind of Superman.  All the pressures of a business owner; enduring health issues the past few years that would best most people.  Yet always concerned for me; always the go-to guy for another need or repair in our daily lives.

A Dreamy Reminder

I believe my dream was the Lord reminding me that my “Superman,” committed and loving as a man can be to our life together, is really only human, and that life and duty “really hurts” for him too, at times.

As his wife, it’s important for me to encourage him more, and be ever more attentive to his needs. It’s important to help share the weight of things from which we women can tend to abdicate, just expecting our men to handle them. There’s a balance, of course!  Men LIKE doing certain things—and they are happiest if we women just let them do those things without our “expert” directives.

After sharing my dream with my friend Kathy, she responded, “We all should be reminded of this! I have a husband who is healing from a broken back, yet he still rides fiery bullets for me.”

The dream was a reminder for me to also be the “real woman” who loves her real man in deeper ways.  That’s when a woman is able to realize what a real man’s love looks like!

Summer of Pain, Renewed Hope

I’ve learned that blessings can come on the mountain tops, but also in the valleys of our lives. For me, summer 2019 would bring one of those valleys, and more than a little pain. But it would also bring renewed hope!

My husband Philip and I had worked out vigorously for months at a local gym, also around our small farm property near Nashville.  We mow eleven of sixteen acres, where countless trees regularly shed wagon loads of branches to toss on our ever-rising burn pile.

I had forgotten I wasn’t twenty years old anymore, and I was beginning to feel the pain of over-doing a thing!

As weeks passed, the pain worsened, and three MRI’s revealed rotator cuff tears in both shoulders, plus pinched nerves in my neck that caused further pain in my arms and hands. “The perfect storm,” it seemed.  Later, in October, cervical (neck) fusion surgery would be necessary to relieve the pinched nerves, and the first weeks of recovery would be excruciating.  The thought of possibly two more surgeries, one shoulder at a time, was unbearable.  I spent the summer hoping none of those surgeries would be needed.

What I needed was a miracle!

The Coming Storm

Philip and I work together in our small software business a few miles from home, where I enjoy doing promotions and editing Philip’s national blogs. I’m also a writer and blogger, but with painful arms, writing became a challenge.  If only God would just heal me, instantly!  After all, when He walked the earth, He made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. Still, I prayed…

“Lord, if it’s your will that I go through all this, please be right here with me.”

August came with an unusual thunderstorm for our area, turning the skies black and threatening, and Philip urged me to hurry home from the office. At once, lightning and thunder began pounding our little town. Windshield wipers were all but useless against the downpour, as I drove through the gate, onto our long gravel driveway.

Suddenly, the driver’s side of my car was engulfed in tree limbs.  Part of that rotting old tree, Philip and I had talked about removing one day, had finally succumbed to the storm. Shaken, I hit the brakes, and then tried to drive forward toward the house, but a large limb had pinned my front wheels in place.  I couldn’t move.

Looking up then, I watched helplessly, as the larger part of that same old tree crashed down right in front of my car.

Running for Cover

Heart pounding, I thought to wait a bit for the lightning to let up before getting out of my car. But what if another tree fell?  As it was, with limbs blocking the driver’s door, I’d have to climb over the console and go out the passenger door. Having two bad arms made the whole experience more traumatic, as I grabbed my purse and keys and jumped out into deepening mud puddles. Still about 400 feet to the house, I realized the skimpy sandals I’d worn were no substitute for track shoes I could have used to outrun the storm.  I ran and prayed frantically, past the long row of swaying southern pine trees.

“Lord, HELP ME make it to the house!” After all, I remembered, He had once calmed a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Finally, safe inside, heart still pounding and soaked to the skin, I was just thankful to be alive.  But truly, if I was hoping for a miracle, I felt sure only the Lord kept me from being crushed under tons of enormous tree limbs, now strewn across the driveway.  I would find out later, the only real damage to my car was that caused by the limb under my wheels, that had kept me from a more tragic outcome.

Surely, God proved He was with me, saving me from that falling tree. And I was reassured He would also be with me through this health crisis; my own “perfect storm!”  Through all of it, my sweet husband has been more than supportive and encouraging.

As I write this…

It’s been nearly seven months since that first (neck) surgery, and five months since the second surgery to repair my right shoulder. Recovery was harder than expected, and I had prayed I would not need a third operation. I’m thankful, that prayer was answered!

In March, however, my husband suffered unexpected “sinking spells” that sent us to the emergency room at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville where doctors operated twice on him to insert a permanent heart pacemaker. Six weeks later, Philip is feeling well and too strong for his own good. Hard to keep a busy entrepreneur down! God is good!!

For all of it, I’m clinging to the promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope.”

One thing I understand, God doesn’t promise us a pain-free, tear-free life, but He does promise never to leave us, nor forsake us.  I know there’s a purpose for this season in my life, and I’m thankful for the reminder that came with that summer storm… even a fallen tree.

Thankful for the months since, that have brought me closer to Him. And thankful for the blessing of renewed hope for the future.

As Corrie ten Boom would say, “Jesus is victor!”