For a guy who hasn’t eaten, drank or swallowed since the Bush administration, this is big news for praise. For thousands of you, who–for almost a year and a half–have prayed for this moment; this is a huge "Thank You, Jesus!".
Let me back up and give to you a few snapshots of our lives prior to this miracle.
Saturday: Joanna and I sat with some friends in a coffee shop sharing great memories, stories and laughs. What we couldn’t share were the beverage and cookie. As they sipped and munched, I poured three cans of formula down my tube…my normal routine. I didn’t feel badly about it as it had become so much a part of my life that this was my new norm.
Sunday: A friend had Joanna and me over for lunch. It was a very pleasant event. The conversation was sweet, but I’ll just have to take their word for the taste of the food. In her kindness, and as an act of faith, the hostess set a place for me at the table and stated, "I know you can’t swallow, but I thought that maybe today would be the day you could." She was being thoughtful and full of faith, but I thought inwardly, "Today isn’t going to be the day. I don’t know if there will be that day. I know I’ll eat in heaven, but I don’t know if I’ll ever eat again on this planet."
Monday: Joanna kindly bought me a McDonalds’ ice cream sundae. It was fun to suck on it and feel its cold sweetness melt in my mouth, but none of it went down my throat. As always, I spit it back into a cup.
Tuesday (today): I woke up to a common site: a mound of Kleenex on and next to my bed–evidence of another night of spit-interrupted sleep. I got out of bed to do my normal routine–read my Bible while pouring some breakfast down my tube. About ten minutes into the process, my feeding tube malfunctioned. I’ve had it get clogged before–dozens of times–but it always just takes a gentle shove of the syringe plunger and we’re flowing again. Today, however, nothing would budge. I pushed as hard as I could to no avail. I stood up, placed all my weight against the syringe plunger and the wall. Nothing. Joanna came to my aid and pushed as hard as she could. Only the smallest amount went through. My feeding tube–my lifeline–was inoperable. It didn’t appear to be clogged. It appeared to be broken.
This dilemma led us to pray at a heightened level. I decided to not go to a hospital immediately, but give the tube a few hours and see if something would change. I sent out a text message to a couple people and explained that if God didn’t heal my swallow or open my tube that I’d have to go to the emergency room.
I reminded God that when I had this second tube inserted, I had prayed that this would be the last one I would have to have. Joanna and I repeatedly called out to him…literally crying…for his touch. I decided to try a tiny bite of yogurt. Then another. We continued to pray. A half-hour later I showed Joanna the yogurt container. I had eaten an ounce. "You haven’t spit?" Joanna asked. "Nope."
I had no clear feeling of swallowing, but for the first time I had no demanding need to spit. Slowly, I kept testing the yogurt. At the two ounce point, we started to really get excited. Our prayers went to a higher level of praise, declaration and intercession. Then I tried a small swig of orange juice. It went down. Amazing. A tiny, tiny burp arose. Something was happening. Joanna put her hands on my neck and prayed more (something she has done dozens of times), but this time I felt a slight sensation in my throat, down by where the esophagus has been stuck for so long. As a step of faith, I threw away my spit cup. Joanna took a picture.
I began to declare it: "You have been healing me, You are healing me, You will heal me!" And then, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Greater is He that is in me than he that seeks to destroy. Greater is He that is in me than the disease that is in me. Greater is He that is in me than anything that is against me."
Two ounces of yogurt and a swig of juice doesn’t usually lead to great celebration, but today it did. It was the evidence we needed that God was stepping in on this day…the very day my tube ceased to function. All through this journey of sickness, God has shown his sovereignty through timing. Once again he did so. On the morning my tube died, my throat came to life. Amazing.
At about the three hour point I stared at the empty yogurt container. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t spit a drop of it out. I was eating–awkwardly and incredibly slowly–but eating.
Twelve hours have now passed. My tube is still inoperable, in spite of numerous efforts to force it or open it with substances like Pepsi. I have been eating steadily– in tiny increments, sometimes with great effort and occasionally with choking–but eating. Total consumed: 8 ounces of yogurt, 1/3 of a banana, four saltines, some orange juice, one Wendy’s Vanilla Frosty and to finish it off, a half cup of chili. Not bad for a rookie, eh?
I have so many lessons to share…so much of God to reflect on…so many calories to try to consume so that I can appropriately leave the feeding tube behind; but for this moment, I just want to celebrate and I want you to do so with me.
To the hostess who believed for me this week when I couldn’t; thank you! To the brother in Oklahoma who has fasted from ice cream on my behalf for the duration of this ordeal; your commitment is complete. Have a big bowl…with toppings! To the parents whose children have prayed for me with unusual regularity; throw a "Yay, Jesus" party. Don’t miss this teaching/celebrating opportunity. To all of you friends…literally scattered across the globe…bring glory to God. A God-timed miracle took place today. You were part of it. Thank Him!