Miracles Matter : True Stories of God at Work by Janet Tombow by Janet Tombow - Read Online

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Miracles Matter - Janet Tombow

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1

WATCH THAT FIRST STEP

That first step was a killer - almost literally.

Heading into Bible study, on the topic of Spiritual Warfare, the accident occurred. My right ankle-bone snapped, as I started down the steps from the church’s stage to enter the Bible study room. I flew head first down three steps into a brick wall.

As I hit the wall, I saw a vision of a hedge in front of me, reminding me of the Scripture about God putting a protective hedge around His children. I felt in my spirit God had said, Satan, you can take her down, but you can’t take her out. Thank God for His extra measure of protection that day.

Being a few minutes late, I was actually trying to make a quiet entrance into the Bible study, instead of the noisy, grand entrance it turned out to be.

I lay there wedged in the little nook between the stage and the Bible study room. A pool of blood was quickly forming in my right hand from the head injury.

Responding to the loud crash, a voice from within the room asked, Are you okay?

No, not really, I meekly concluded, gazing at the overflowing handful of blood.

Another voice asked if I needed help. Yes, I think so.

The door opened and they were a little startled (little is probably understating it). I couldn’t see what they could, so I wasn’t quite as alarmed.

When asked how I was, I said, My foot hurts. That was a secondary concern from their point of view. I was sitting upright and conscious, covered in blood, which was still running down my head, face, and everywhere else. Remarkably, there was very little pain, except for my right foot.

Vicki, the pastor’s wife, grabbed some towels and applied pressure on my head wound to stem the profuse bleeding. The church secretary, Sherry, called 9-1-1. Others went back into the Bible study room and began to pray for my safety. Pastor Branson said an audible prayer by my side.

* * *

When emergency personnel arrived, I was conscious and started kidding with them, especially when they inquired, … couldn’t (I) have had the accident in a smaller space?

I kept insisting my foot hurt and, while they were listening, they too seemed more concerned about my head. Due to the confined space, I even offered to stand up and walk to the ambulance.

They laughed and suggested, Relax, we’ll take care of you, and that they did.

The ambulance team said they would be taking me to Bayfront Trauma Center. When I asked if they could take me to a closer hospital, they advised me they could see my skull and, therefore, needed to go to the best trauma center in the area. That was all the convincing I needed!

The ride seemed to take forever. However, I needed that long to recall all the medicines I was on, to give them an accurate medical history. (Forget needing to wear clean underwear in case of an emergency; one needs to carry their list of medicines because they keep asking for it!)

* * *

Once admitted into Emergency, other experts took over. They were kind about not wanting to damage my clothing, but that was the least of my worries. I gave permission to do whatever was needed. My pants and jacket were salvageable (eventually, with some Martha Stewart remedies administered by my friend, Carol). Sadly, my commemorative Discovery space launch T-shirt did not survive the day.

Three doctors converged around my head to figure out the plan of action. As I recall, they did an X-ray first, and then proceeded to suture my scalp. One young surgeon, formerly with the Army stationed in various parts of the world, was assigned and proved to be very kind. He asked me if he could shave my head to make the suturing easier. I told him to do whatever he needed to help me. That gentle, caring man, ended up completing the task without having to cut away any of my hair. (For ladies reading this, you know this was a welcome miracle!)

About two hours into the procedures, the surgeon commented, You seem to be doing quite well. He said he had worked on men much bigger than me who by now would have been in tears. (I think this was a compliment that did not come out quite as planned.) He added that he had not even given me anything extra for pain.

I assured him it was the peace of God helping me through this crisis, and the prayers of my Bible study friends were working. I admitted I was repetitively reciting Psalm 23 to stay calm, while he was busy sewing me up.

How does that Psalm go? he inquired.

"The first verse says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’" Then I chuckled, not wanting to laugh too much because he was holding a needle to my scalp, and said, "I’m not sure we’re quite to the second verse yet, because it says, ‘He maketh me to lie down in green pastures and leadeth me beside the still waters;’ but I think we’ll get there eventually." A great measure of peace settled in.

After about three hours of suturing my head, the task was completed. An angel of a nurse came in to start cleaning my scalp from some of the caked blood, and discovered another open wound, requiring additional suturing. I admit to almost losing heart at this point, wondering if I could get through more of those suturing procedures; but what choice did I have?

Altogether, it took 40 stitches, including fixing 3 bleeders, to put me back together. Stitches extended from the middle of my forehead to the back of my crown. Miraculously, I had no concussion, nor much pain. Better than Humpty-Dumpty, I thought, at least I could be put back together!

* * *

While the surgeon had been working on my head, I kept moving my right foot around, convincing myself all was well. It still hurt, but I thought it must just be bruised, if I could move it.

After tending to my head wound, the staff took me to the X-ray for my right ankle and foot. The verdict was the right ankle-bone was broken. No wonder it was hurting.

They released me in a walking boot with a recommendation to see an orthopedic surgeon soon. Not as easy as it sounded, with the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend; but surgery was finally scheduled on the fractured ankle 9 days after the fall.

* * *

Remarkably, my head stitches were ready to be removed in only 5 days, rather than the normally required 7 to 10 days. The black eyes eventually faded. My shoulder wasn’t injured in a permanent way after landing on it as I hit the floor.

Surgery was successful; I just needed time to heal.

In spite of numerous body parts affected, my pain level only required minimal dosages of pain medicine.

All were gifts from God and answers to the prayers of many caring people.

* * *

Some three months later, I was able to walk again on both legs without the right one being aided by a walking boot. That rapid of a recovery would not have been possible if not for some much appreciated help from several friends.

Not allowed to have any weight on the foot for the first week, two friends shared the responsibilities of helping me 24/7 – quite an adjustment when you are used to doing things for yourself. Several shopped for me; others brought meals; many sent cards, said prayers, or called with get-well wishes. Even when not asked, they found ways to assist. All were greatly appreciated. This was truly a lesson in the value of friendships.

When I was getting impatient with the handicap tools I had been assigned to use, someone reminded me that I was blessed to have those crutches and a walking cast for only a limited period of time. Others around me had those as permanent fixtures of their daily lives. What a humbling realization that put the temporary inconvenience into better perspective.

While spending much time sitting during recovery, I decided to read through the Psalms and the book of Job. Psalms for calm and assurance; Job to realize how minimal my problems were by comparison. A good way to learn some patience, I thought, but not before I was to learn about God’s sense of humor. I laughed aloud as I read Psalm 18:36, in the New International Version, which says: You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

I recall saying, Real funny, God!

While I laughed at that moment, I truly believe this was assurance that God knew exactly where I was and what my problems were. I just wished I didn’t have to be sitting in that position to learn this lesson.

* * *

An even more valuable lesson was in the making.

While sitting still for so much of the three months, God was working on my heart and my priorities. Prior to my injury, God had been introducing me to miracle stories that needed to be told. I chose to put them in a file for future reference.

I wasn’t ready to write a third book, but I believe God was ready for me to settle down and do just that. Finally, I yielded to His will – not mine.

I really should listen better without His having to hit me on the head to get my attention! Obedience without pain is a far better way to listen to the Lord.

After my head wound healed and concentration was restored, work on Miracles Matter began.

* * *

Telling the stories of miracles in people’s lives, including my own, is apparently important to God.

As you read this book, may you become more aware of God at work in the lives of others, and perhaps recognize some miracles He is working in your life as well.

2

THE WAYWARD ELEPHANT

My mother told me a humorous story about a friend of hers.

An 80-year-old lady was driving a brand new Cadillac. She had parked near the circus tents in downtown Tampa, Florida, preparing to watch the Parade of Elephants.

After the event, upon returning to her car, she noticed her trunk was totally caved in.

Anxiously looking for the car’s owner, a frantic circus employee arrived on the scene with a huge apology on his lips. Sometimes when we get the elephants ready to parade through the streets, one occasionally gets stubborn and just doesn’t want to walk in line!

That day, the stubborn one had chosen to sit on this lady’s trunk in protest.

Don’t you worry, he quickly added. I have the paperwork you’ll need to take your car back to the dealer to get an immediate replacement Cadillac.

She appreciated his apology and proceeded for home. On the way, she noticed an accident ahead, blocking the intersection. Darting right, into the corner gas station, she took a shortcut to avoid the accident traffic.

At that moment, a policeman noticed what appeared to be her fleeing from the accident scene. Turning on his siren, he flagged her down, shortly after she had exited the gas station parking lot.

As he approached her car, she was confused about what the problem was. She knew she hadn’t been speeding and had used the proper signals to make her turns; but the policeman started the conversation accusing her of fleeing the accident scene.

Angrily, she responded, I have NOT been in an accident!

Sure, lady, he condescendingly said, laughing a little.

Young man, I have NEVER been in an accident!

Lady, your trunk is totally caved in. How can you say you’ve never been in an accident?

You can see where this is going.

Sir, an elephant sat on the trunk of my car!

He laughed even harder this time, upsetting her more. Waving the circus’ paperwork at him, she admonished, This proves an elephant sat on my trunk!

After he stopped laughing and reviewed the paperwork, the officer sheepishly apologized that things were sometimes not what they seemed, and suggested she have a nice day.

* * *

This had to be an oft-repeated story for its sheer delight, back at the police station and even by the offended lady.

However, life is often that way, isn’t it?

Life has its wayward moments. Damage gets done and repairs can be made. We might even laugh about the situation afterwards. The end results though, may have a lasting effect on our lives.

The miracle comes when we can let go of those past, difficult situations; learn from them; and move on. Sometimes laughing about them; sometimes relieved they are over; usually, praying they never happen again.

By God’s grace, all of those things are possible.

3

TIM ENGSTROM

The Lord, thy God, in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in His love, he will joy over thee with singing.

ZEPHANIAH 3:17

Tim’s wife, Diane, and I have been acquainted since she was a little girl. In fact, her parents were my high school youth sponsors at the church we attended together.

Diane accepted the Lord as her personal Savior at the age of 7 during Vacation Bible School, held at Grace Baptist Church in Glendora, California. She had the privilege of being raised in a wonderful Christian home. Admittedly, since she was just a little girl, Diane felt called out like Samuel to serve the Lord, and at age 13, Diane dedicated her life to doing just that.

It was heartbreaking for me when Diane’s family moved to Oregon, as I respected them so much as a loving family unit, especially in contrast to my very dysfunctional one. Our families remained friends for many years, and we occasionally visited them on their Oregon ranch. From those visits, I have fond memories of picking berries from their vines with Diane; making homemade apple pies together; bottle-feeding a newborn lamb; and galloping on a palomino across their fields, trying to get my fanny bouncing with the horse instead of against it. Mostly, I remember times of just being friends, and sharing our future hopes and dreams.

Years passed and Diane was led by the Lord to attend Briercrest Bible College, in Saskatchewan, Canada, which is where she met Tim.

* * *

Raised in a Christian home as the son of an evangelist and professor, Tim took a circuitous route to end up attending Briercrest.

Tim had a talent for learning the guitar. At the age of 12, he began playing some songs in Sunday school after only 3 weeks of practicing.

At 16-years old, Tim dreamed of being a rock star. He lived in Montana, loved fast cars, and started playing his guitar at parties and school dances. That soon led to singing in some bars and clubs. Eventually he was in a rock band, complete with an intimidating look, long hair, and several bad habits. It was at some of these party gigs though, that Tim got disillusioned, learning that rich people were not necessarily happy.

Around this time, Tim’s sister begged him to attend her Bible school graduation. At the event, the Lord deeply convicted Tim about his need to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. In fact, the conviction was so great, Tim left the meeting, got in his car, and headed down the road; but the Holy Spirit did not let go. Tim turned around and headed back to the meeting.

He was greeted at the door by Gene Coleman, a Bible school student who had seen him leave, and said, I knew you would be back. Gene proceeded to talk about what Tim was experiencing and led him to say a prayer to ask the Lord to become his personal Savior.

After they prayed together, Tim remarked with uncertainty, See, nothing happened.

Gene gently explained, Faith has to come before feelings. Believe what God says in faith.

They prayed a second time and Tim left with a deep feeling of contentment and a growing seed of belief. God had entered his life.

* * *

Tim’s newfound faith started interfering with his entertainer role, which resulted in a series of life changes.

He couldn’t help himself; he needed to do something to display his newfound faith. Tim started adding the hymn, Amazing Grace, to the end of his performances; it felt right. Some proprietors scolded him for insisting on closing his shows that way.

Shortly after leaving the rock band with which he performed, his Dad suggested it was time for Tim to leave the city for a while. He invited Tim to see how things were done at the youth camp at which he conducted his ministry.

Upon arrival, his Dad asked Tim to stay in a camp cabin with ten of the camper boys, as their counselor would be a week late. Conviction began to gnaw at Tim when the young boys asked him questions about his bad habits. Inquisitively, they questioned why he smoked, drank beer, and had long hair. The innocence of youth became a force with which he had to wrestle.

Big time changes were underway in Tim’s life. The conviction of the Holy Spirit made Tim want to change his ways, to be a better example to the young people; but it would take a few miracles to deliver him from some of those strong addictions.

One miracle was Tim enrolling in 1972 at Briercrest Bible College, to begin working on his Bachelor’s degree in Education and Administration. Tim’s dad could strongly recommend the school, as he had been a professor there for several years before becoming a full-time evangelist.

Another miracle occurred two years later when Tim attended a youth crusade meeting conducted by his Dad. By meeting’s end, Tim became enthused to work fulltime for the Lord in youth work.

Shortly afterwards, Tim cried out audibly to God to take away his addiction to cigarettes. While driving down the road having this conversational prayer, Tim threw the pack of cigarettes out the window. That sincere prayer was instantly answered, as God completely took away the urge to smoke.

Tim’s heart was set on becoming a missionary. Approached about conducting a camp in Jakarta, Indonesia, his efforts to obtain a visa were thwarted because of problems relating to his history. It appeared