Today (August 5) is our 29th Wedding Anniversary for Kathy and me. This past Monday was also the 8th anniversary of the traumatic brain injury of our son, Graham. Many of you know the story, but today I would like to take you “inside the ropes” by sharing some of my Prayer Journal to see a little of what we experienced during that terrifying time.
A word about Prayer Journaling: There are many ways to do a Prayer Journal, and any way that works for you is the right way. But for many years I have recorded my actual prayers in my Prayer Journal. I write out my prayers to the Lord as if I were sending Him an email 🙂 As the Lord answers me (always through His word) I copy and paste the Scriptures into my Journal so that as I read it I can see the “conversation” I had with the Lord at that time. If you have struggled with successfully journaling you might try this approach.
Graham was in a small rodeo at Word of Life Ranch—a Christian camp in his hometown of Schroon Lake, New York. One of the events he competed in was for him to ride into a group of calves, separate one, lasso it and tie it off. Then repeat this a second time. The first rider to complete two successful captures wins. As he lassoed the second calf, it darted unexpectedly to the right and pulled Graham’s horse, Crockett, off his feet. Graham fell with Crockett as his head slammed down into the arena dirt. He was unconscious, and unresponsive. He was flown by lifeline helicopter to Albany medical 100 miles away.
The initial reports were not good. They weren’t certain that Graham would live. When Kathy and I arrived in New York a day later Graham was hooked up to a huge array of monitoring equipment in ICU. He was still completely unresponsive, and the doctors had him in a medically induced coma. Graham’s wife, Randi, was by his side continually as Graham quietly fought for his life.
We also fought for his life as we begged God for His healing grace and clung tenaciously to our faith. A few days after his injury we were still fighting (Yes that is the right term to use. Those of you who have walked through death’s dark valley know what a fight it is. It is an all-out spiritual battle.)
Let me pick up some excerpts from my Prayer Journal beginning on August 5, 2010. Much of this is deeply personal, but thought that it could be helpful as you may be walking through a difficult journey right now…or know someone who is. The way God interacted with me, He will respond to you as well. That is because: He loves you. He is in control. He knows your pain. He will walk beside you.
AUGUST 5, 2010 PRAYER JOURNAL ENTRY
Lord, today is our 21st Anniversary. Thank you, thank you, thank you for my sweet wife! Your grace is so abundant in bringing her into my life that I don’t even know what to say to thank you!
I got up early and headed off to the hospital to see Graham…When I got the room the nurse told me that they were not going to begin weaning him off the meds…It was like getting hit in the stomach…I didn’t realize how much I was counting on this day and to see how he was going to respond.
Lord, you have been ministering to me today in so many ways. Thank you for your love and for what you are teaching me through this very difficult time. I was sitting here at lunch and listened to this Todd Fields’ song and it really spoke to my heart. Thank you for this reminder and encouragement.
Breathe on Me (Music & Lyrics by Todd Fields)
When I’m weak, You are strong – Your breath in me will be my song
In You my King I belong – breathe on me
Forever, You are my reason for living, Merciful Savior unending, Breathe on me
Forever, You are the God of my story, Write every line for Your glory, Breathe on me
When I am weak, You are strong – Your breath in me will be my song
Find me here in this place – Son of God, Saving Grace
At this hour, all my days, breathe on me
AUGUST 7, 2010 PRAYER JOURNAL ENTRY
Father, It is in the wondering that the pain is most evident. We struggle to keep our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. There are opportunities to doubt all around us. It would be easy to allow my mind to go down that dark hole. But my hope is in God alone! I will not be moved!!… Psalm 16:7-8 I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. (NLT) …so Lord I ask for the strength for today. I ask you to give us this day our daily bread—all that we will need to be sustained through this day. I continue to ask you to heal Graham. Unashamed, I beg you, Lord, to heal Graham by your grace—please give us what we don’t deserve. Regardless of what happens today, Lord, I will praise you. I said to my soul, “Let me praise the Lord!”
Please be gracious to me as I remind you of your word…Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (ESV). I will choose to trust you, Lord! Jesus prayed for his disciples that their faith would not fail. Lord, I ask my Great Intercessor to pray this prayer for me today.
Thank you, Lord, for the prayers of the saints—even now all over the world, your people (my brothers and sisters in Christ) are calling Graham’s name before your throne. They are asking for your grace on our behalf. They are asking for a miracle for Graham. They are asking you to strengthen us for this journey—especially for my sweet daughter. May Randi have the grace and peace (May grace and peace be yours, sent to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Eph. 1:2) which is what she needs most right now—even more than she needs Graham’s healing.
AUGUST 8, 2010 PRAYER JOURNAL ENTRY
Well Lord, this has been one of the darkest days of my life!! We enjoyed worship today at Graham & Randi’s church then we came to the hospital to be with Graham. Randi and Keith (Randi’s dad) were in the room with Kathy and me.
Then the neurosurgeon came in to tell us the results of the MRI. He said that Graham had DAI (Diffuse Axonal Injury) or brain shear. He said it is unlikely that Graham will ever wake up. Lord we reject this lie from the pit of hell. It is the clever work of the enemy to get us off track and doubt your healing power.
On the positive note, the doctors have released any credit for Graham’s healing! When you do your miraculous work, they will receive none of the praise!!
I explained to the doctor that a factor he was overlooking was that Graham was a man of God and that our trust was in you, our Great Physician, who can overrule any diagnosis or prognosis he might offer.
From the beginning our trust has always been in you, Lord. Although we are so thankful for this wonderful hospital and doctors, we have been trusting in Jesus to be the Healer.
Randi was pretty devastated by this news, Lord. This is certainly an understatement. It was not what we were expecting to hear today. Graham was stirring some and we thought he would be awake in a few days at least.
Lord, I have already buried my wife, you would not have me bury my son. I have done all their weddings, please don’t make me do their funerals, Lord. This is WAY more than I can handle! Please God by your grace and mercy heal my son!!! Show your compassionate love, your unfailing love, your hesed love!!! Please God! Please God!
I don’t know how to respond to this except to reject it! We simply will not believe this lie! The doctor is trying to practice his disciple of science, but God you created the universe. You called into existence that which did not previously exist. You can certainly reconstruct Graham’s brain, Lord. You knit him together while he was still in his mother’s womb. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. You have plans for him to prosper him and not to harm him to give him a hope and a future!! Your word contains promises and principles that his death or “persistent vegetative state” could not possibly fulfill.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31).
Lord, I stand in the promises of your word. I ask you to heal Graham. I ask you to raise him up from this bed and put him on his feet and call him to serve you to impact his generation for Christ! Please Lord! I surrender my agenda. I surrender my expectation, but I will not surrender my faith. Though you slay me, yet will I trust you! (Job 13:15). Lord, please don’t make me walk this road again. I’m in familiar territory. I know you will be with me. I know you will never leave me. I know you will work all things together for good, but please Lord, don’t take my son! No matter what happens, I’ve already made my decision. I will trust the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. I will acknowledge you in all my ways!!
AUGUST 9, 2010 PRAYER JOURNAL ENTRY
Today is Randi and Graham’s 7th Anniversary. Please give us strength and hope for today. Please pour your grace on us today. Please give us that supernatural peace. Please give power to Randi for today’s journey. Surround her right now. We love you, Lord. We need you, Lord. We rely on you alone, Lord. You are my God and my Lord.
NOTE: The afternoon of August 9th (on her 7th Anniversary) while Graham was still in a coma, and after we had received the devastating news that Graham might never awaken, I watched my incredible daughter-in-law reach into her pocket and pull out Graham’s wedding ring (which she had removed immediately after the accident). She placed it on his ring finger and repeated her wedding vows to him in his ear…that she would “love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health…as long as they both shall live.” Kathy and I stood in silent awe as we witnessed this holy moment!
AUGUST 10, 2010 PRAYER JOURNAL ENTRY
Yesterday, Randi said she can’t do this!! She’s right, Lord, she can’t. But she can do all things through Christ who will give her the strength she needs! (Philippians 4:13). So give her that strength today, Lord. Just what she needs for today—that’s all I’m asking. And give Kathy and I the strength we need for today.
We are believing, Lord, that you can (and will) do infinitely more than we could even ask or imagine today! (Ephesians 3:20). If you don’t show up and make yourself strong on our behalf, we have no plan B, Lord!! You are our only hope. You are the only one from whom we will expect deliverance! We love you, Lord! We thank you, Lord! We give you all the praise and glory, Lord. You are my Lord and my God! In you alone do I trust!! Bring glory to your name today, Lord, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ might be praised throughout this hospital and throughout the world today!!
THE REST OF THE STORY…
Graham was transferred to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady, New York. We were with him each day—along with Randi—as they cared for him and took him through physical, occupational and speech therapy. He slowly began to wake from his coma. Each day he improved. The doctors, nurses and therapists were amazed at his progress. Several of them used the word “miracle” to describe Graham’s recovery. One special therapist named Fallon said, “Sometimes we see physical improvement, but not mental. Other times we see mental improvement, but not physical. With Graham we’re seeing both. We just don’t get to see this!”
On September 29, 2010 (one day less than 2 months after his injury) Graham signed his own discharge papers and walked out the front of the rehab hospital (see picture). All of us are in awe of God’s healing grace. We didn’t deserve it; we didn’t earn it; God simply gave us the gift of Graham’s healing because He did.
“Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done” (Colossians 2:7b, NLT).
HERE ARE 3 STEPS TO HEALING: God may or may not heal you or your loved one physically, but you can have emotional and spiritual health whether or not you have physical health.
- Meditate Continually on God’s Word
Psalm 119:27–28 (NIV84) Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. 28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Psalm 119:148 (NKJV) My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
- Determine to Obey / Honor God with Your Whole Heart and Soul
Psalm 119:10 (NIV84) I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
Jeremiah 7:23b (NIV84) Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.
- Hang on to Your Faith with Tenacity
Job 13:15a (NKJV) Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Onward remembering God’s faithfulness,