By Jeanette Levellie
“When Ginger asked if she could cook lunch for us, I put my foot down,” Ben said. “Because of complications from her last surgery, she came home with a feeding tube. I’d feel like a heel eating food cooked by someone who can’t eat herself.”
Ben was one of the members of the church we’d recently began pastoring in rural Illinois. When we’d moved from California two weeks before, he graciously offered to take us to Ginger’s house in the country, figuring us city kids would get lost in “the sticks.”
We’d heard about Ginger’s battle with colon cancer. But not until we met her that day did we realize the extent of her fight. Over the previous 17 months she’d endured seven major surgeries, including a kidney removal, and countless painful procedures; some without anesthesia. She was one sick lady.
When I left Ginger’s house that day, I determined to pray for her healing. But God had a surprise up His sleeve.
Several days later, I paced our bedroom, reminding the Lord of His Word in I Peter 2:24 and Matthew 8:17 on behalf of Ginger. A familiar voice rang in my heart. Don’t simply pray for Ginger; call her and pray with her.
Ginger eagerly agreed. “Thank you so much, Jeanette. I’ve been on this feeding tube for five months. If my intestines could just heal enough to allow me to digest food, I think I could put up with all the other issues…”
I cut her off. “Oh no,” I cried. “God wants you to be well all over. Don’t settle for just one strong part, while the others suffer. Let’s pray for complete health.”
Little did I realize how God was guiding my words, and what complete health meant to Him.
Over the next few months, I called Ginger often, praying with her and encouraging her to read the New Testament accounts of Jesus healing all who came to Him (Matt. 4:24). She readily accepted my prayers and encouragement. Although she’d attended church all her life and believed at an early age, no one had taught her how to develop a relationship with Jesus. Now a slate of maladies longer than a grocery list was challenging her faith. Could it stand up under the pressure?
Shortly after we began praying together, Ginger shared some exciting news. “A home health nurse has taken a special interest in my case. She’s researched for hours, trying to find out why every time the doctors wean me off this feeding tube, it doesn’t work. I’m so amazed at her concern for me!” Although gratefulness flooded my heart, I wasn’t surprised. I’d witnessed the Lord moving in people’s lives in answer to specific prayers dozens of times. But this kind of personal intervention from God was a novelty to Ginger, and it awed her. She was beginning to comprehend how precious the Lord considered her.
Two months from the time that angelic nurse started researching Ginger’s case and advising her on treatments, Ginger was free of the feeding tube and eating solid food. But God was filling up a greater emptiness than her desire to bite into a tender steak or munch a juicy apple. He was planting a hunger in her heart for a deeper walk with Him. God’s plans were grander than my biggest dreams.
Ginger joined a women’s Bible study, listened to bushels of sermon tapes, and attended the Sunday school class I taught. Our entire congregation watched in amazement as her faith grew sturdy, sending down roots into the soil of God’s healing, nourishing love.
I’ve celebrated eleven Christmases since that first call to Ginger. In spite of constant battles with doubt and fear, her faith has remained strong, and she’s been cancer-free for several years now.
When I’m tempted to wonder if my life has made a positive difference, I pull out a memory of Ginger’s daughter, who pulled me aside one day and said, “I want to thank you for helping my mom know the Lord in a deeper way. What you’ve taught her has helped her make it through this awful trial. She talks about Jesus all the time now.”
How could I take credit for that? A tender God coaxed me to the telephone at the perfect moment, to help one of His hungry lambs find her way to His table of healing and grace.
I weep in gratitude that God allowed me to partake in the bounty of Ginger’s feast.
© Jeanette E. Levellie, 2011, used with permission.
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A spunky pastor’s wife of 30-plus years, Jeanette Levellie is a mother, grandmother, and cat lover. She authors a humor/inspirational column in her local newspaper, and is a prolific writer and speaker. Jeanette has published magazine articles, stories in anthologies, Devotions, greeting card verses, and calendar poems. Jeanette’s debut humor/inspirational book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, published April, 2012, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Find her mirthful musings at www.jeanettelevellie.com
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