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Thoughts of a Vegetable, I Guess. January 12, 2015

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

When I was a baby, my parents assert, I had an illness called Influenzal Meningitis.  That was almost 50 years ago, and there wasn’t a vaccine until maybe 15 years ago.  My parents told me when the vaccine had been developed, and I’ve forgotten when exactly that was.  But I was glad when I heard it.  It meant that no one else would have to go through the same crap I have lived through, and lived with.  I should be dead.  Or a vegetable.  One of my sisters teases me about the second assertion, and that’s still funny to me.

The doctors who first handled my case did not hold out much hope to my parents.  Mom and Dad tell me those doctors said I would be dead, or severely handicapped.  So they fired them, so to speak, and asked for another doctor.  I’m not supposed to be able to walk, or talk, or take care of myself, or use my partially paralyzed right side, after the high fever and the stroke that left me blind at 10 months old, and weaker and smaller on the right side than on the left.

So Saturday night I kneaded the dough and made cinnamon rolls for my family and for my second grade Sunday School class.  And yesterday, I got myself out of bed, got myself dressed, grabbed my viola to play in the church orchestra, and my teaching materials for Second Grade Sunday School class and for the large group Children’s Church, drove myself to Church, rehearsed with the praise band, and taught the Second grade class.  I don’t normally share in Children’s Church, and I’ve never told this story to any large group until yesterday.  I was asked, by the Children’s pastor, to speak, and then he sent me the lesson for the week.  Isaiah 35 and Mark 10.  I don’t think the Children’s pastor knew what he was asking for, and he didn’t stay in session to hear what I said.  But every word of it is true.

I didn’t mention yet that I once was blind, but now I see.  The song Amazing Grace has that as a lyric, as a spiritual metaphor, but in my life, it is the literal truth.

My parents prayed, and they tell me the doctor did too.  I believe it.  I lived, and through a lot of long laborious physical therapy and a couple of operations, I only walk with a slight limp whenever I’m tired.  My sight came back when I started to recover from the illness and the stroke.  My mom said they didn’t know I could see until I reached up to grab a shiny bauble from her necklace.  But I still have the scars and the evidences of the sickness.

Today I’m touch-typing, using left and right hands at 50+ WPM, or the speed of thought, whichever one I can keep up with.  Because yesterday I got the answer to my frequently asked question of God- Why?  Why do I have the scars and the evidences?  Why was I left only partly healed?

Irresistable random thought popped in my head from “the Princess Bride,” “He’s only mostly dead!”  I was only mostly healed, not completely.  Maybe the doctors were wrong because I was “only mostly dead,” when I was sick.

I had to teach the kids, first grade through fourth, about Bartimaeus.  He was the guy in the Bible who was blind and used to beg for a living, who heard Jesus was coming through town and would pass by where he was begging.  So he made a scene, shouting, calling out to Jesus and asking for mercy.  Bartimaeus is Bar-Timaeus, meaning The Son of – Timaeus.  When I read the lesson plan, I pictured Timaeus praying for his son like my parents prayed for me.  Only Bar-Timaeus’ sight was not restored.  Timaeus kept praying.

Bartimaeus knew from rumors that Jesus could heal people.  He probably went to temple like my parents dragged me to church, and he probably heard the promises in the reading from the scrolls of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 35 was the prayer of my parents, over my life.

2 …they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.

He called out to Jesus for mercy, and Jesus asked him what he wanted.  Jesus, the all-knowing, knew what he wanted, but asked just the same.  Bartimaeus just wanted to be able to see.  So Jesus fixed that.  Right in front of a large crowd of eye witnesses.  Why was I only mostly healed?  Why do I still have bones that aren’t quite the same from left to right, a limp in my walk, weakness on the right side that I don’t feel on the left, and a hand that sometimes curls up by my side when I’m not concentrating on keeping the arm extended?

Why would anyone believe what happened to me if my healing was complete?  It had to be “only mostly” healed, or no one would believe it.  Scars are badges of honor, proof that we are survivors.  The scars on my left leg from the second operation, and the scar on my right ankle from the first, show evidence that my story is true.

Witness me.  My imperfect self displays the glory of the Lord.  See also I Corinthians 1:27, with a personal emphasis on foolish.  and look around at II Corinthians 12:8-10, with a personal emphasis on weakness.  I should be dead, but I’m not dead.  I should be unable to care for myself, but I can.  My feeble hand is strengthened, and still works, to type, to hug, to touch, to love, and to serve.  To bake bread, and cinnamon rolls, to cook.  My knee that gives way with that limp is steady enough to stand, to walk and enable me to serve.  I can walk up or down stairs without a cane or a walker, at least so far.  My once blind eyes literally can see.  Isaiah 35, the verses my dad said he prayed for me, are the story of my life.  Timaeus, and Bar-Timaeus, got their prayers answered.  My parents got their prayers answered.  Just like Isaiah 35 promised.  And THAT is why I believe in Jesus.  I have my moments of doubt and seasons where I wish I had greater clarity.  Sometimes I still feel spiritually blind.  And I don’t have all of the answers to life.  But if my purpose is to point people to the truth, to the reality of the Jesus of Mark 10 and Isaiah 34, then you just watch me point.  He came to save me.  And if you call on Him, “He will come to save you,” too.



1. larry megazzi - January 13, 2015

Really powerful stuff.  Good work.Larry

2. suzannepurewal - January 13, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing your story. We are blessed and fortunate to have you in our midst.

3. michaelnjohns - January 13, 2015

As Chef Justin Wilson a.k.a. “The Cajun Cook” used to say on his TV show, “I’m glad for you to see me!”~~MJ

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