This is the story of what God did for me in the fall of 2012. Because it happened toward the end of the year and because it affected my whole family, we called it “The Morris Family Christmas Miracle” in our annual holiday message to family and friends. Really, though, it’s two related stories that show how God loves to be involved in our lives.
“I Feel Fine.” In October two years ago, as my birthday approached, I went for my annual medical check-up and took a routine stress test for heart disease. The results were inconclusive. A second test came back the same way.
My doctor referred me to a cardiologist, who suggested performing just one more test to get to the bottom of things. This one would mean inserting a tube into a blood vessel and threading it up to the heart to check for problems. The procedure was invasive but not dangerous, he said. “But it’s up to you. Since you have no symptoms, we can wait and test again in six months.”
I chose to wait, of course. My wife, Sharon, wasn’t pleased. She kept pointing out that I had much less energy and seemed more tired than usual. But there was no budging me. “No, no, I’m feeling fine,” I insisted. “I’m just slowing down as I get older.”
One Wednesday morning while this tug-of-war was going on, I met my son Joe at a local coffee shop for our weekly get-together. We talk about whatever is on our minds, and that day, it was mostly about his kids and his job. Afterwards, Joe went off to work, and I stayed to finish my coffee.
I didn’t stay long, so when I got back to my car, I was surprised to find a long message from Joe on my phone. Basically, it said, “Mom wants you to do this test. You ought to do it, just as a preventive measure. It’s not risky. And it would make her feel good.”
The tone was directive and emphatic—not at all in line with Joe’s usual soft-spoken manner. Well, that’s interesting, I said to myself.
Dreams in the Night. Meanwhile, my son Jonathan, who is a diocesan priest in New York, had been pondering another interesting e-mail. It came from a woman named Caren, whom he and Joe had known in college but hadn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. She wrote:
This is a strange thing, but I have had two dreams about you and Joseph, asking me to pray for your dad. I have been doing so and hope that all is well with your father. I don’t know him but have found myself getting up with the baby at night with thoughts of your family. Your father is especially ever present in my heart.
Jonathan didn’t know what to make of this message. It did seem strange: a voice from the past coming out of nowhere to express concern for a stranger? Without having any idea what it might mean, he finally decided, “Well, it might be from the Holy Spirit. I’d better forward it to Dad.” So he did.
And guess when that e-mail arrived? Right after I had finished reading Joe’s message, as I sat there in the parking lot of the coffee shop.
Not a Moment Too Soon. Receiving those two messages back-to-back was compelling, to say the least. I went home and scheduled the test.
A week later, as the cardiologist examined my heart, he discovered a 90 percent blockage in the artery that is popularly known as “the widow maker.” If it gets completely blocked, the result is a massive heart attack and, usually, sudden death. But it’s easy to fix if it’s caught in time.
“Coming in when you did was a life-saving decision,” the cardiologist told me when it was all over. In his opinion, I wouldn’t have made it through another six months. And when he learned about the string of events that had pushed me to take action, he was amazed. “This story gives me goose bumps!” he said.
I was out of the hospital the next day, and my energy level skyrocketed. Overnight I had new vigor and enthusiasm for everything I had been doing. My renewed zeal didn’t come only from the improvement in my physical health. I was also energized by the fact that God had intervened so directly to save my life. A son’s urging, a mother’s dreams and prayers, a convergence of e-mails—maybe these circumstances were not miraculous in themselves, but it seemed a miracle to me that the Lord had orchestrated them all, proving to me how near he always is and how he is personally involved in my life.
The Rest of the Story. Interestingly, I wasn’t the only one who needed to experience the Lord’s personal love: so did Caren. In fact, she had been going through a sort of crisis of faith.
When my wife wrote to thank her for listening to the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisperings, Caren emphasized that she had not had any sense of hearing from the Lord. The vivid dreams had puzzled her. And she had prayed for me only because she felt compelled to do so and because her crying child was keeping her awake. The compulsion disappeared as soon as she sent the e-mail.
Having forgotten about the whole thing, Caren was stunned when she learned about the life-saving role she had played. “I broke down in tears,” she said. And then she explained why:
It was a twofold answer to a very desperate prayer I had made in mid-October: “Do you care about our lives here on earth, Lord? Please give me any kind of indication that I am of value to you.”
Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think the Lord gave Caren an awesome response!
From time to time, I think, we all have questions about God’s presence in our lives. Lord, are you really here with me? Do you care about what’s going on? Do you love me? And so, when God gives us a glimpse of just how personally he is involved, as he did for me and Caren, it’s a humbling and faith-building experience. Now, whenever I’m tempted to doubt the Lord, I remember how he used a blocked artery to reveal his grace and to bring perfect strangers together in a miracle of love.
Bob Morris lives in Ohio. He and his wife, Sharon, have seven children and sixteen grandchildren.
Do you have a story of how God has worked in your life? Send it to us at [email protected]