Chapter One, from: "You Want Me to do What?"
"I'd like to see you all in my office," the doctor said.
Earlier that week I'd been standing at my window washing dishes. Stephanie, my eight year old, had been playing in the yard when I noticed something unusual. She kept falling down. Each time she'd get right up and play some more. Then she'd fall down again. Like many kids, my daughter had seen some klutzy moments, but this was way out of the ordinary. I was about to run out to her when she came in crying. "Mommy, they hurt! My knee, my ankle, my elbow--they hurt bad!" Stephanie's face was red with a splotchy outbreak, and I wondered whether these symptoms were caused by a reaction to chlorine. We'd recently joined a swim club and had spend many hours at the pool.
"You'll be all right, honey", I said as I hugged her. "Just sit down for a while and let your body rest." Those words calmed her down for the moment, but when three days went by, and there was no improvement, I became concerned and took her to the doctor. He drew Stephanie's blood and ran multiple tests. We spent all day in his office.
Late that afternoon when all the lab work was finished, the doctor came over to us in the waiting room and spoke quietly, "Dee, is your husband working today?"
My heart dropped. I was a nursing student, president of my class because I was considered so smart and brave, but the doctor's question had me so completely terrified. "Please," I begged him. "You can tell me. Just what do you think is wrong?"
He motioned me into the office. Stephanie was half-asleep in her chair. I told her I needed to talk to the doctor a minute, and that I'd be right back.
"Sit down, Mrs. Baxter," he said. He closed the folder containing the results of Stephanie's tests and placed them on his desk. "I don't know what's wrong with Stephanie, but her blood work is all messed up. Every symptom she has, the sensitivity, the breaking out, her joints swelling--everything points to systemic lupus. She's only eight, and I rarely see lupus in children this young," he paused, "but there's also a possibility it might be leukemia. Something's not right here."
I pretended to act poised, but my brain froze. I didn't have to be in nursing school to know that "lupus" and "leukemia" were two words a parent never wants to hear. The doctor told me to take Stephanie home, saying that he would run some more blood work, but he insisted that Carlton come back with me in the morning.
That evening our family did the normal things. We fed Stephanie and Cindy (our five-year-old) and tucked them into bed. Carlton and I then sat down and just cried. We prayed the best we could, but we were basically stunned. When we dropped into bed, we were exhausted.
At around three o'clock in the morning, God woke me up. A spiritual heaviness pervaded the room. Lated I'd understand that what I felt was the weight of His glory. At that moment, however, I was ignorant; all I knew was that I couldn't stand up. I literally slid off my bed, and crawled to the living room. We had an orange and green shag carpet, and all I could do was just bury my face in those old, cruddy fibers and cry out to God. "Lord, if you're real, if you're the God I've read stories about and heard about all my life, then I'm going to ask you to please heal Stephanie. Don't let her have either of these diseases. Please, Lord. Please." Then I cried myself to sleep.
Early the next morning I woke up with carpet indentations across one side of my face. The minutes zipped by in a blur, and Carlton, Stephanie, and I were driving back to the doctor's office. The doctor took our brave little Stephanie back into another room and began to run some more tests on her.
Forty minutes later the doctor came out to the waiting room, and his eyes looked like two fried eggs. He invited us into his office. Once we were all seated across from him, he smiled and shook his head. "I don't know what's happened. Stephanie's blood work was all messed up yesterday, but today it's perfectly fine!"
God spoke to me in that moment. He said, "Dee, get to know me."
All I could think was, You healed my daughter! You are real! I was stunned, and the only thing I managed to say to the doctor was, "That's wonderful!" Carlton and he exchanged a few words, but I didn't pay attention because I was still in awe of hearing God's voice.
That Sunday an evangelist came to speak at our church, and afterwards he came to our house for lunch. We shared our recent experience with him, and he warned us, "Don't let the enemy rob you out of that miracle--don't let go of it!"
That man of God was absolutely right. The enemy did come later to say Stephanie had never been sick, that there'd been no miracle, but we were prepared and told that liar to leave us alone.
Five days after Stephanie's miracle, I was driving to see my urologist for a pre-op exam. I'd been having kidney problems, and I'd suffered bladder infection after bladder infection. When the doctor had last examined me, he'd announced that I needed surgery to remove a serious build up of scar tissue. We lived in Marion, North Carolina, at the time, and to drive to Asheville where my appointment was, I had to go through Bowcatcher Tunnel which cut through the mountain on Highway 70.
Mid-way through the tunnel, I prayed to God. "You healed Stephanie. I really believe You healed Stephnie, so do you think today you could also heal me?" I didn't hear any response, but now knew God was a healer and that He truly listened to our prayers. On the exam table, with my feet in the stirrups, I experienced another miracle. The doctor shook his head, "It's amazing! Go home, you don't need surgery; you don't have any scar tissue!" I think my smile was brighter than those blinding fluorescent lights above me. So on the way back through Bowcatcher Tunnel, I sang "Standing on the Promises," but I was thinking, God, I don't know how to thank You enough. Please help me to praise You!"
And as I was belting out the song, I began singing in another language. The windows of the car were rolled down, but suddenly I heard an additional reverberation, like a rushing waters around my voice, and I thought, What's that? I was bewildered, but immediately realized, Gosh, all these sounds are coming from me! Shocked and delighted, I continued to sing in my new language all the way home.
I told Carlton about my miraculous healing over the phone, but waited until he came home that night, and the kids were fast asleep, to share the other thing that had happened to me. I began by praying in tongues, and Carlton just looked at me and said, "Uh hmmm." He didn't say another word, but I could see he was thinking, so I slipped into the kitchen to clean up.
A few moments later, he came in and said, "Dee, I'm going up on top of the mountain." We lived at the base of a small mountain ridge that rose up behind the house. He continued, "Don't come and get me. If this is real, you and I cannot walk two separate paths. If this is real, I want it. I'm going to ask God about it." When the door closed shut behind him, it must've been about eight o'clock.
I began to pace around the kitchen, praying in my new language. Scenes from my childhood started floating up from my memory. As a teenager, I'd often leave church with the same, persistent thought. God, is that all there is? I just knew there had to be more than singing a few songs and sitting on a pew. This new God-given language had opened up an enormous door to the unknown. God had quickened another memory.
I grew up in a town called Screven, Georgia, which was about 70 miles south, or a world away, from the big city of Savannah. This event occurred when I was probably about ten or eleven. My dad had several friends come down from up North. They liked to hunt with him because, among his other skills as an avid sportsman, he was very good at hunting quail. The result of his remarkable marksmanship was a marvelous quail and grit suppers. Big Les, a local black lady who weighed well over 350 pounds, was known to be the best quail cooker in the South, or so Daddy said, and he'd always hire her to cook these quail suppers.
Big Les had prepared several delicious meals for us before, with no unusual occurrences, but on this particular occasion something special happened. We were sitting in the dining room talking with our guests, and Big Les was in the kitchen, cooking the quail and preparing the side dishes. I remember her singing, and then the singing became more boisterous and turned into out-and-out shouting. I sat there watching the glasses and the cutlery on the dining room table begin to shake, because when Big Les began to shout, she also began to jump. As she jumped, the whole house shook, especially the dining room. I can remember Mama's eyes widening and sending signals to Daddy, who just kind of smiled. He wasn't upset at all, but Mama was very uncomfortable. Shortly afterwards, Big Les came in and served the quail, all the while singing and having a good time. As she came back with the sweet tea to go with our supper, Daddy asked her, "Leslie, why're you so happy? You sure seem happy tonight."
She said, "Aw, Mr. Hub. I done got filled with the Holy Ghost! He got a hold of me!"
Daddy said, "Really?"
She said, "Yes, Sir, when He gets a hold of you, you gotta let Him loose somehow, and you let Him loose by singin' and dancin' and sometimes even shoutin'!"
Our guests from up North were speechless, and Big Les continued to rock the house for the rest of the night, even while cleaning up and putting things away in the kitchen.
Here I was now, at twenty-nine, pacing around our kitchen in my housecoat because I, too, had been filed with the Holy Spirit. I continued to pray and wait for Carlton's return. That evening so long ago began to make sense. I understood that the Holy Spirit is real, and when He fills you up, there needs to be an expression beyond yourself.
It was unprecedented for Carlton to go off like that. He loves sleep and likes a relatively early bedtime. Sleep is a priceless thing with him.
At about four o'clock in the morning, Carlton made his way down the mountain. As he neared the door, I could hear his footsteps rustling through the fall leaves. And there was another sound as well: some kind of deep, low rumble. When he stepped into that kitchen, he just walked straight up to me and backed my up against the wall. "Shun de ma soul a me sah la me!" He proceeded to pray at the top of his lungs with such force and authority that the sounds seem to burst right through him! It really startled me, and my only thought was, Whew, this is not what I got! Then he gently laid his hands on my head and prayed, and it began to flow from him, a very powerful, deep, rich gift of tongues. So it was the same thing, but it just sounded different. As two different people, we responded differently to the Spirit. That night was a turning point in our lives.
I hadn't asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit; God initiated this revelation of Himself. Carlton asked God for the truth concerning my new prayer language, and God answered him. We did nothing to earn this gift from God. That night made us realize that God does what He wants to, and we should lay aside all judgments and just accept His gifts and go on with Him.
With the Holy Spirit active inside me, I could now understand my Bible. I'm not saying tongues brought me greater understanding. I'm saying the process of learning to yield my life to the Holy Spirit did. Not only did this gift help increase my faith as Jude tells us it does, but wow! It was like the scales had dropped off my eyes, and I now had a brand new Bible! Also, I suddenly experienced a deep, abiding joy, and a knowledge was birthed inside me that God was my friend, my Father, my Savior, and no one could take Him from me. A peace was released within me because I could trust my God who'd shown Himself so faithful to me.
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