This is the third installment of a periodic series where I unpack the writings and memories of my Uncle Pat. Make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2 first. “When I Fell In Love With God” is his autobiographical essay describing how he came to know God after he was paralyzed. This is Part 3 of 3.
… Bill laid me down on the sand exhausted. He had never let me go the whole time but still managed to get me in the wheelchair. Finally on the beach we all gathered around a man playing a guitar and everyone started singing. They were singing and worshiping God. As soon as I picked up the first chorus I began to weep. It was as if someone had stabbed me in the heart. All the pain, anger, fear, and frustration was rushing out of me. I had finally broken. Wave after wave of pure love was washing all the hurt away.
The music trailed off and a large bald-headed man with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen started to pray. Everybody fell silent as he continued on, telling us a story about Jesus and about the amazing love He has for us. He also explained baptism and its significance. When he concluded he looked me square in the eyes and with that big Cheshire smile said, “Let’s start with this brother right here!” He knew, without a doubt, that I had fallen madly in love with God.
God has made it perfectly clear that He does and has completely loved me for longer than I can imagine. Even though I suffer from the effects of my disability and have been for more than sixteen years, He continues to prove His unstoppable love for me.
Recently He showed me more of the perfect plan He has for me. In February of 1998 I was extremely ill. I had been hospitalized with double pneumonia. For a quadriplegic this can be a fatal malady, and it almost was. I was put on life support, my temperature reaching 105 on four different occasions. I had lost the ability to communicate and was unable to eat.
After five weeks in intensive care and a week or so being weaned off the respirator I was discharged. I was in pretty bad shape. Losing thirty pounds and not being properly turned from side to side during my stay had broken down my skin terribly. I would be spending the next eight months in bed.
I came home only to find my house in shambles. I had hired a young man who wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a caregiver. It was my own fault but I learned from my mistake. My finances were gone, the house was filthy, and to top it off I received a phone call from my landlord. The place I was living had been sold and I was given thirty days to move out. My faith in God was the only thing I had to go on in a situation that was as hopeless as I had seen in fifteen years. I rehired a previous caregiver and started searching for a place to live.
God started opening doors like I have never seen before. Through many different circumstances and people God has restored me and blessed me above and beyond anything I had ever hoped or imagined. In one short summer I ended up in a beautiful house near the beach with all new furniture, a computer, and just to really blow my mind, a van equipped with a wheelchair lift! Except for the furniture, which I purchased dirt cheap and paid for in very small increments, everything was given to me… and not by any one church, organization or government agency, either. All of these were gifts from God’s people.
I have been restored so completely it defies description. God has given back not only my health and welfare, but He has also rekindled my passion to live… I mean really live. I want to wake up every morning and seize any opportunity to serve Him.
What is truly amazing about all of this is the breathtaking truth that God had every detail prepared and proved it just before I moved out of my condominium in San Juan Capistrano.
While going through my dilapidated dresser in preparation for the move, I found a piece of paper I recognized. It was written in 1985 and had followed me around unseen in piles of old paperwork. I had written what I thought at the time was a prayer fourteen years prior just a day or so after my baptism. Its contents are astonishing; when I wrote this letter I had barely even cracked open the cover of a Bible.
He shall not only walk or run but mount up with wings like an eagle. He shall be in the place where there is fullness of joy. I shall take him and exalt him as he will be faithful to minister to My people. Have I not seen the desires of his heart? I say to you I have seen the desires of his heart and more. For I will give him great authority and he will not be afraid to use that which I have placed within him. For in humility and love he will minister to those that are sick and yes he shall even minister My love to those that are hurting and suffering. All of this and more shall he do in My name for I have called him and chosen him not only to speak My word but to minister My word. He will not be afraid for I am his God and I will give strength to My servant and he shall not be dismayed for I will be with him and yes I have heard his prayers. I shall even pick him up in his time of need and yes I shall even carry him when he says to himself, “I can’t go any longer” in his heart. When he says, “God how can I do this? I am so restricted and weak?” I will say to him, “Take heart for I have overcome the world and so shall you, for I the Lord have spoken.” In Jesus’ name.
When I lived in San Juan I would take a couple days a week to visit a convalescent home to visit and pray with people. I found it to be a great source of joy and made many friends. Sometimes it’s really hard for me in my condition to serve other people and after my last illness it has become even more difficult. But God is true to his word and he shows me constantly.
I will serve him as long as I have breath. With all the things God has done and is doing and even after all that I have gone through, I can say with total abandon that I am still totally and completely in love with God.
Thank you, God, for my Uncle Pat.