I Am second – lies
My name is Mark Davis and I have had the privilege of being asked to help Doug Bender (founder of the i Am Second program) kick off the debut of his new devotional book “Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First” by taking 4 of the devotionals out of the book and applying them to my personal life and writing about how that particular “concept” has influenced my world.
I am getting a bit of a late start on this due to personal reasons, but what I am going to attempt to do is link the four entries that I will make together into a mini series of my life (if I can pull that off). I’m not sure how I’m going to do that without writing a book (that may come later) but I’ll try – I have a tendency of just rambling on and on.
If you read on the right side of my page, during the week of December 9 – 15, 2012 Doug is running a super contest. Be sure you check it out if you purchase this book in that time frame – you won’t be sorry! Great opportunity there. For the rest of you, I hope you can enjoy the article.
Live Second – page 181
— Acts 5:9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
Many years ago when I was a teenager, I was gung-ho for Christ. I was a soul winner; I went to church at every opportunity; I worked in the Children’s Church ministry in my church; I would witness to anybody and everybody – I even had friends ask me to witness to some of their friends for them since I was so bold. I seemed unstoppable. I even felt that God was calling me to be a pastor in the future – therefore I was to go to college and learn as much as I could and get my MDiv degree and so on…
Life took its turns, I didn’t end up going to college after high school, I “fell in love” with one of my high school sweethearts and eventually we got married. We moved to a totally new city and I became a work-aholic. She had affairs on me; I kept taking her back – I felt that that was what God would want me to do, I didn’t believe in divorce. [For the record, I still don't.]
As that path seems to always lead, we ended up getting divorced. I remarried to one of my other high school sweethearts after that. At that point I definitely was not qualified to be a pastor any longer according to 1 Timothy 3. I went to church occasionally after that with the family. I even felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my shirt tails on occasion and felt that I needed to rededicate my life to the Lord. I thought that I had, but the temptations were just too great for me to handle on my own… I failed.
What really happened was that I was lying to myself. I never submitted my life back over to the Lord to do His bidding. I did the God thing for a while and then it kind of just slipped away again. I fell deeper into sin. I took up (again) smoking and drinking among many other sins that are too gross to mention. Needless to say, the lies got to be more and more until I could hardly figure out which way was up (to God) anymore.
One day I came to the brutal realization that I was losing the feeling in my feet. When my wife would page me (yes, we had pagers back then), I wouldn’t feel it vibrate on my belt – I was losing feeling there too but didn’t realize it at the time. One thing led to another medically and I was finally diagnosed with a 7″ spinal cord tumor between C-3 and T-5 (you heard me right) that was starting to choke off the nerve signal to all of my extremities. In fact, it was for everything from the mid-chest on down.
I won’t tell the whole story here because it is another miracle of its own that I will end up writing about sometime. To make a long story a little shorter, the doctors told me that if I didn’t have the tumor taken out immediately it would make me a quadriplegic within a year. That, for the non-medically inclined, means that I would be paralyzed (can’t move or feel) from the neck down – no hands or feet or anything in between there.
The doctors also told me that if I chose to have the tumor taken out, I still stood a 50/50 chance of becoming a quadriplegic after the operation. Wow – how sobering is that? I just couldn’t seem to win here. Needless to say, I had the operation. What did I have to lose?
I started to realize that this might be a wake up call for me to start thinking about God again. I was in surgery within a month but in the mean time, I did a bit of praying. I didn’t really turn my life over to God quite yet, but we were on talking terms again, so to speak. I asked Him (like I was able to bargain with Him or something) to, please, allow me to have my hands and my brain after the surgery. He could take the rest from me and I would accept that.
More lies to myself. I thought that I could more or less tell God what to do. This is the Creator of the universe. The One that formed my DNA. I was trying to make deals with Him? Right.
I was coming out of sedation following my surgery and, while still very groggy and with eyes closed, I barely woke up enough to hear nurses around me talking and I used my MIND (I had one of my wishes granted) to tell my FINGERS to move and to feel themselves (my second wish). I could feel my fingers!
One might have thought that I would jump up off the gurney and do a dance for the Lord, but I just went back to sleep to finally wake up in a room with my family around me. I tried my fingers and arms again and they worked great, but that was all that worked.
I was paralyzed from the mid-chest down to my feet. I couldn’t move or feel anything lower than my chest. Wow – talk about sobering? Hang on it gets better… I’m just getting started here. NO, don’t click to another page yet!
You might have thought that I would have told God that I was all His and He could do with me whatever He wants. More lies. He could and DID do anything He wanted with me. What I didn’t realize is that He wanted me to be about as low as I could get so that He could be revealed through my healing.
The doctors and therapists all told me that I would probably never walk again or for that matter, feel in that area again – ever!
My God and I had a lot of good chats after that. I started to believe that my God is bigger than any doctor or nurse or therapist or, for that matter, me! I gave my healing over to the Lord to make an example of His power. I told the nurses and doctors and therapists that I would walk again.
My surgeon told me that I could go home when I could walk from my room down the hall to the elevator. It wasn’t all that far, maybe 50-70 feet, not much… unless you couldn’t move anything below your waist, unless you couldn’t even transfer from your bed to a wheelchair, let alone trying to put one foot in front of the other to take one step, let alone 50 -100 that it would take to get to the elevator.
I didn’t get discouraged. I joked around with the nurses and therapists all the time. I didn’t get down. I did (or tried to do) everything that the therapists told me.
I could hold myself up on a walker, once I got up. I had to have help with that one. Still a long way from taking steps.
A few days later, I figured out how, while on my walker, to be able to swing my weight to move my hip forward therefore making my leg swing forward and it was almost like I was taking a step. Well, in the eyes of the therapists, I took a step. What a blessing that day was. I told them that my God could do that. I stopped telling myself that lie.
Making my story much shorter; I began “walking” again with only the help of a cane. What a miracle that was. My doctors and therapists were surprised and I told them that they were instruments used by God to help me learn how to walk again. They accepted that I guess and I kind of did too – enough to be able to tell others that my recovery was not my doing but rather that of God’s. Oh, did I mention that I still couldn’t feel anything from the waist down? By medical definition, I was considered paraparesic but of the worst kind.
I amazed everyone by walking again. I still had next to no feeling in my feet. I did give God the credit for my healing and you would have thought that after such a miraculous thing happening in my body, that I might have turned my life over to Him and yielded myself to His will, but no. I kept lying to myself. If you looked at the scripture text for this post, and put me in the place of Ananias, I would have been the one put to death by God’s hand for lying.
God still wanted me for something. I was still on this earth for some reason that God knew but wasn’t ready to show me yet. I suppose that He might have if I wanted to submit to Him, but still, I didn’t.
My second wife walked out on me, thinking that I was too broken for her or something and that she could do better than me. She left me with a house and a payment to go along with it that I couldn’t begin to make on Social Security Disability payments let alone any other bills or not to mention eating. The house ended up going back to the bank and I ended up in bankruptcy – destitute! I called on God, but I still didn’t submit! About here, most people would be about to shoot me or at least rattle my head to see if there was anything in there or not. Why was I so thick-skulled that I couldn’t see what God wanted for me? Looking back, I really wished that I had listened to Him long before that.
I still thought that I could do things on my own (LIES!). I got hooked on pain meds – that was a lot of fun, I’ll tell ya what! < sarcasm here> I started drinking again with my buddies. I never really stopped smoking either, at least not for more than a couple of months and then I was back at it again.
You know looking back at this part of my life resembled here on this page, I start to remind myself of the cycles of the Children of Israel and how God had to keep knocking them up side the head to get their attention and then it only lasted for a little while and then they were back to their tricks again. History is bound to repeat itself.
I started having serious stomach pains – I’m talking pains that would last for 2 weeks, worse than those of food poisoning. I started having problems breathing, sort of like asthma but they tested me and it came out negative. No clues! I was having this strange sensation of my hands and feet swelling up and I could hardly move them – my throat would swell to the point that I could hardly breathe out of it – they called it flushing (oh, and my whole body would turn red).
They did test after test on me. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. Can anybody say, “Hello”? I mean, could it be any more blatant that Somebody was trying to get my attention here?
They were in the process of an ultrasound test on my gallbladder, thinking that might be the problem. While there, the tech saw something in the liver area that really caused her to panic. She wouldn’t let me in on it though. My doctor, later, told me that I am finally diagnosed!
Carcinoid Cancer – Stage 4!
Keep in mind that I am still parapresic here. One thing just made the other worse and you couldn’t really figure out which one made the other worse.
The cancer is very slow growing and I probably had had it, prior to this point, for probably 10 or 15 years. The only reason they found it is that it had metastasized (spread) to the liver. The primary tumors were finally found in the cradle of my pelvis. Multiples - so many that they were inoperable. They weren’t going to go in after them unless they were causing complications other than symptoms. To date, they still haven’t.
After losing 45 pounds in less than 6 months from all of the stomach area problems, they finally got me “stabilized” so that the symptoms were manageable with drugs. That was 5 1/2 years ago. The situation just gets worse medically. Spiritually is another story… (To be continued…)
Lies – Why is it that we have to be so thick headed that we can’t see the forest in front of our faces because the trees are in the way? Why? Why? Why?
Life could have been much simpler, much better, much more satisfying, if I had just listened to God the first time way back in high school. But, NO. I had to have it MY way. I had to be the one in charge. Oh, yeah, God was around, and I would talk about Him on occasion and He may have used me a few times, but, I had to always amend my talk to say, “Don’t take me as an example. I’m a terrible Christian. Do as I say, not as I do.” And, most of this happened while I was in the middle of a bar drinking with my friends. WHY???
God could have used me! If only I had let Him have control of my life way back when, because, you see, He could have used me while I had all my faculties and could go out and run a marathon for Him rather than try to roll down a sidewalk for Him.
That was then, this is now. I’m done lying to myself. God is in charge, now! (If I were writing this on paper right now, you would start to see tear stains on the sheet.)
If you are still reading this – I’m sorry that it took so long for you to get to this point, but it took me much longer to get to this point – I thank you for continuing on, but… There is something that God wants you to be doing for Him. What is it? Why haven’t you submitted to Him yet?
Give Him your heart’s key. Let Him be the only drive in your life. You will find that there is no better satisfaction in life than realizing that you are in the center of God’s will. Be willing to do whatever it is that He wants you to do. Quit LYING to yourself!
God Bless You!
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Read the continuing entries from the Live Second series:
This is the FIRST entry in a series of 4