If You Believe: Seeing His Glory

Most of us have been there at some point in our lives – faced with the prospect of losing a loved one.

And that’s exactly where we were just a few years back. As it often does, the situation we were in had been thrust upon us without any warning.

I had gotten the call while at work. My mother was having severe chest pains. She had called me right after talking to my sister. And then my sister called.

All of us agreed that I should head over there since I was in closest proximity to where they lived on the lake.

While on the way, my sister called again and we agreed that she should call for an ambulance – just in case.

Yes, it was a heart attack. The local hospital managed to get her stabilized and then arranged to transport her to one of the major medical centers in the area.

She was scheduled to have a heart cath the following morning.

And that’s when things went from bad to worse. Following the heart cath, the decision was made to rush her to surgery for a coronary bypass. From there, she went into the recovery area.

Late that day, one of the nurses came out and expressed concern over the fact that she wasn’t waking up as she should. The nurse asked if she had ever had any type of seizures. Just the question itself was deeply disturbing.

It seems that she had had a couple of “minor” seizures and a neurologist had been called in to evaluate her.

On the next day, the news got even worse.

She had started to “posture” and was now “guppy” breathing. We were told that these were some pretty bad signs.

Posturing is an involuntary motion the human body sometimes does as a reflex action in cases of a severely damaged brain; and the guppy breathing is so named because it is similar to how a guppy out of water gasps for breath.

In other words – death throes. The combination of the two usually means that life is about to end and end quickly.

The neurologist told us that a CT scan had been done and that it showed conclusively that she had either had a massive stroke or possibly an outburst of numerous small strokes.

Having spent 20 years in a related medical field, I had learned all too well to recognize the patterns that showed on that CT scan.

And I knew from experience – people just don’t recover when the scans look like that.

I had fully expected him to ask us to remove the life support – but he didn’t.

My thoughts were that that request was inevitable and that he was giving us time to prepare for the worst.

My mother’s sister was there with us shortly after we had gotten this news. Her response to the news sort of caught me off guard.

She said – “We have to pray.”

Now, you need to understand a thing or two. At this point in my life, I was very much like the prodigal son and had really strayed away from the Lord.

Needless to say, I felt that my prayers were not very likely to get much of an answer.

That night I did pray, though. As distant from the Lord as I felt, I simply recited the Lord’s prayer and then asked for the Lord to heal our mother.

At the same time, I prayed “nevertheless, let Your will be done.”

I’ll be the first to admit that at that point my faith was a lot less than the proverbial mustard seed. Yes, I really hoped for a miracle – I just didn’t expect it.

Later the next day, the nurse came out to tell us that our mother’s breathing pattern had changed.

It had returned to normal. And the posturing, which had been constant, had abruptly ceased.

Her expression revealed her puzzlement at these events.

On the following day, the neurologist had a repeat CT scan done.

I’ll never forget that session when he came in to tell us the results.

We really didn’t know what to expect and most of us were prepared for more bad news.

He sat silently across from us for what seemed to be an awfully long time. My thoughts were racing headlong towards an ever-worsening scenario.

When he started to speak, he actually stuttered at the beginning. “I – I – I – just don’t really know what to say.”

“We did another scan just a little while ago, and I’m at a total loss. I can’t explain it. I’ve never seen this. Never.”

Our impatience was at it’s height as my sister asked, in a quiet and husky voice – “What ARE you talking about?”

“Her new scan,” he said, “it’s clear.”

“What do you mean – clear?”

“It’s normal.”

It was totally silent in that room as he got up and walked out. All we could do was look at each other in wonder at what we had just heard.

Our aunt showed up shortly after this exchange and we told her of the meeting. Bless her heart, she knew exactly what was going on.

“It’s God, it’s God!” she said. “Oh praise God – He’s answering our prayers!”

Over the next 2 or 3 weeks, our mother went through what seemed at the time to be a fairly slow recovery as she would lapse in and out of a coma, never seeming to be fully conscious.

As we walked in to visit her in the intensive care unit one morning following that 3 week process, she was sitting up in bed.

Fully awake. Fully alert. And no memory of what she had just been through.

Her last memory was the vague recollection of being taken into the heart cath lab.

It wasn’t until some time later that I was personally able to fully reconcile all that had happened. The realization and acceptance of these events took me some time to fully grasp.

As I consider these events, I came to the conclusion that it was most likely due to my lack of faith at the time. I just wasn’t ready to fully believe.

There is a scripture that pretty much explains it:

John 11:40 –

Jesus said unto her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Yes, God had heard our prayers.

And gave us a glimpse of His glory by delivering a miracle.


  1. Great post Joe, thanks for the testimony.

    … and WHOA! New look! I like it!

    • This was one of those that had been stirring for a long time, Peter.

      Glad you like the new look – think I’m through tinkering with it for a while. It’s always good to hear from you.

  2. Randy Calaway says:

    Wonderful testimony Joe and touching.

    My mother passed away a few years ago after a 30 year bout with cancer. There is something to be said about “knowing.” She knew when she was going home and asked my aunt to stay after a particular vist. A very odd request, but my mother knew it was time.

    They called me. I was working in Alaska. I raced down to Texas. In a rented car I was 30 minutes shy of reaching mom. I did not want her to suffer, she was holding on to see me. I remember praying, “Lord I do not want my mom to suffer.” I know she loves me and I her.”

    A minute later my cell phone ringed, she had just passed away. Yet, somehow in the economy of God, mother and I had touched souls.

    Knowing, this precious gift when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we know what is right at the critical last minute, be it healing, or be it time to journey home to Christ!

    • Randy, as a postscript to this post, I have come to believe that when all this took place it really was her “time.” Yet God, out of His mercy and grace, allowed us to have her with us for a little longer.

      Some 9 months later, our mother succumbed to cancer as did yours. And I couldn’t agree more when you mention the precious gift of the Holy Spirit coming to let us know that the time had come for her to journey home to Christ.

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