Facing Reality in the Shadow of His Wings

In the shadow of His wings

Our kind Father has invited each of us to take shelter from life’s storms in the shadow of His wings.  What a wonderful place to ride out a storm!  When our only child was stricken with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis we were devastated.  JRA not only cripples, it also can cause blindness and/or death (it attacks organs as well as joints).  There is no cure.  Watching our son gradually losing mobility in his knees was heartbreaking.  Then he developed a problem in his kidneys — then his eyes — then his back…  it was an ongoing nightmare!  While whirling through the chaotic throes of this nightmare, one evening I caught a glimmer of hope and beneath the roar of the storm I heard a still, small voice say simply, “He’s allergic to onions.  Take him off onions.  It will get worse before it gets better.  Trust in Me.  I love you.”  The nightmare was over!!!  It was still dark.  It was pitch black!  But it was no longer a nightmare.  My heavenly Father had heard the cries of my heart.

From that moment on as I watched the disease progress (it did get worse before it got better). I was faced each day with a choice:  I could either let the circumstances overwhelm me, or I could seek shelter in the shadow of Father’s wings. I sought shelter.  Each and every day I was tempted to doubt, to fear, to run away; but with each temptation the One who loves me made a way of escape.  As I continually chose to take refuge in Him, He led me beside still waters.  While my son’s body was being unmercifully ravaged by an unrelenting force, the One who loves me was restoring my soul and renewing my strength.   And today — my son is a healthy testimony that God comes to the aid of a broken and contrite heart whose hope is in Him!!!

The sun of righteousness has risen with healing in its wings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. He leads us beside waters of rest.  If a storm arises and we find ourselves tossed about, we’re not following where He leads.  The choice is ours — we can either sink, or we can walk on water.  Wait patiently. The One who loves you is closer than your own thoughts.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

P.S.  I always let my wife read these letters before I publish them.  After she read this one I noticed that she was troubled and asked her about it.  She said, “Words can’t describe the pain we endured.  No one will have a clue of how painful it was.”

You see, we watched JRA attack our son for over a year.  We endured the first five months without a word from God.  After He revealed his allergy to onions, we literally hoped against hope for another nine to eleven months in God’s faithfulness to confirm His word to His most unworthy servant.  At the time of the revelation, our son could straighten his legs all the way, but couldn’t bend them all the way.  By the seventh or eighth month he could bend them even less and was beginning to lose the ability to straighten them.  By the tenth month his ability to straighten his right leg had decreased quite a lot and his ability to bend both legs had drastically reduced.  He was slowly but surely becoming crippled right before our eyes.

But we walk by faith and not by sight — and the Lord had said to trust in Him — and we did.  Each day we endeavored to look past what our eyes saw and unto the hills from whence our help came.  And by the grace of God, the darker the night became — the brighter His light shone; the more deeply our pain stung — the more compassion His presence exuded.  To our most kind and gracious and loving and wonderful Father be glory and honor and praise forever.  Amen.  He is so good, so wonderfully good.  We are forever indebted to Him for this kind work He did for us and in us — so indebted and so thankful.


Facing reality

Years ago when the Lord revealed He was going to heal my son of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I told several of my friends. Almost without exception they all told me I needed to ‘face reality’. They meant well. My son’s condition was continually growing worse. They reasoned that even if the illness went away he would still be crippled to the extent he was at the time it went away. They didn’t want me to get my hopes up only to be let down. Bless their hearts, they couldn’t see beyond what they perceived as ‘reality’.

One afternoon during this time I was in prayer and the Holy Spirit said, “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that word ‘truth’ means ‘reality’.” I knew someone who had a book on New Testament words and gave him a call to verify this. Sure enough, I had unknowingly been doing what my friends said I should do after all — I had been facing reality. I wasn’t doing it the way they thought I should; I was doing it the way God ordained it to be done — I had been facing reality in the face of Jesus.

A few months after that day I was privileged to witness with my physical senses what my spiritual senses already knew. My son’s kidneys had been damaged by the medicine he had been taking and they were excreting protein. We had to check his urine every morning and evening, and keep a record of the protein levels for the doctors. My wife always did this. One evening she was gone and I decided to do it. I went into the bathroom and took the lid off the bottle of urine and put it back on faster than I’ve ever put a lid on in my life. I didn’t know it, but apparently the damage to his kidneys caused his urine to have an extremely foul odor. It was absolutely horrible. So I decided to leave it for my wife.

I went back to the living room and started to read the Word. While I was reading I was all of a sudden filled with faith, and blurted out, “In the name of Jesus be healed, be whole, be well.” (These words literally came out of me without any thinking on my part.) Fearful that I had spoken out of turn, I fell to my knees and began apologizing to the Lord. The Lord listened to my apology and then spoke very tenderly, “Go check your son’s urine.”

I returned to the bathroom to check the urine. Because of the foul odor I didn’t want to leave the lid off the bottle any longer than absolutely necessary, so I positioned everything I needed (we had to dip sticks of some sort in the urine — the protein levels showed up on them). I then held the bottle as far away from my face as my arms would allow, removed the lid, and put the stick into the bottle. Before I could remove the stick I noticed that I didn’t smell anything, and I slowly, very slowly, pulled the bottle up to my face. I pulled it so close that I actually got urine on my nose. To my surprise, the stench was gone. There was no odor whatsoever. I looked at the stick and for the first time in months it registered negative for protein. (We continued to check it twice a day until the doctors released our son, and the protein never showed back up.)

So there I stood, a man with a notoriously weak stomach, with tears now mingling with the urine on my face. And, dear ones, as God is my witness, that mixture was as sweet as honey; the Lord had touched my son’s kidneys, and his eyes, and his knees, and his back. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but He had also touched me; He had touched me where I had never been touched before — in the very depths of my being. Seven years later I came to realize this.

One day I was thinking about that night seven years earlier and it suddenly struck me that there was no apparent reason for God to have taken the stench and the protein out of that urine. It had absolutely nothing to do with the healing of my son’s body. That urine had come from his diseased body. It was the urine that came after his healing that counted. While these thoughts were going through my head, I heard words that I’ll never forget, “I did it for you.” When I heard this, I became thoroughly immersed in the truth — He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all — how will He not also, with Him, freely give us all things? For as a lover sends flowers to his beloved on no particular occasion, or as a husband gives his wife a hug for no apparent reason, our heavenly Father changed the urine in that bottle for no particular purpose, other than to say, “I love you.”

Dear friends, beyond the realm of our physical senses, beyond the limits of physical existence, there stands One who was born of a virgin, walked on earth, was crucified and buried, and raised from the dead. To this day that resurrected One stands in the corridors of eternity, His arms of the cross outstretched, proclaiming to all that God is love. He stands — the way, the truth, the life. He stands — the image of I AM THAT I AM. He stands — the revelation of reality. May we always be so fortunate to face reality in the loving face of Jesus.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant