Do you recall one day a bit over six years ago? Two thousand eleven. November thirteen. Maybe you don’t. Maybe for you, it’s not a day among the ones that most stand out. At least not with that one specific date. But maybe you still have your version of that day.
Rewind. It’s the middle of the night. Any night, many a night. Dennis wakes up—he gets up to smoke. Already he was breathing it all day, but it cannot stop there. That’s how he consumes nearly three packs per day. That is how life is. Even if he wants to change it. The hypnosis, classes, acupuncture, gum, etc, etc... they’ve all done nothing.
November. His mother-in-law has a simple request, but it means doing something that he doesn’t do. His aunt may be a nun—part of his Catholic side of the family—and family may be Baptist on the other side, but Dennis doesn’t go to church. Except that’s what his mother-in-law’s asking him to do. And he is a good son-in-law.
He takes her to Willow Creek Huntley. The pastor’s message says, “If you really want something, just ask for it. And ask Jesus to come into your life. Accept him. And then ask.” Dennis does really want something—he wants to quit smoking. So he asks. He asks for Jesus to come into his life and take away the very desire to smoke.
Church is over. Sunday isn’t over. Lunch. Shopping. House things. Dinner. In one evening moment, his hand feels the pocket of his pants. There is a pack of cigarettes in there—a pack of cigarettes he did not touch all day. On November thirteen, he’s never smoked a cigarette in his life. That’s what it feels like, anyway. He puts the one pack in the spice rack.
Six years later, it’s still there. He never touches it. He does, though, see it every morning over coffee. Every morning, he gives thanks. His addiction was removed. There were no cravings or withdrawals or anxiety about it. He breathes in air now, and it is good breathing—as though he never breathed anything else.
All he did was ask. And even then, he got much more than what he even asked for. That Sunday was the first, but it was not the last. He’s called himself blessed since because his “addiction was taken away and he joined such a wonderful church,” a church where he even gets baptized...
But there’s something else. At some point, his heart caught a virus. It left lasting damage behind. Medications, so many of them, are needed, as is a pace maker, to keep Dennis alive. But even with that, his heart rate his awful. It is like having the flu all the days. Days he goes to the arrhythmia center, he finds out that 200 or 250 times in the hours prior, his heart lost it, and hospital visits are a regular occurrence.
This cannot go on.
His cardiologist agrees. So Dennis finds the best, and he goes under for a fifteen-hour surgery that will, at last, laser away the diseased areas of his heart.
It doesn’t work.
He prays about it, and he has a different surgery, with other techniques. It also takes some fifteen hours. For a month, he will still take the medication. Then he will find out if it all worked. So he does. His heart is fine… until it’s not. It loses it again. His cardiologist won’t answer when he calls.
The day is a Sunday, some three years ago. So Dennis stands up in church and he asks God to guide him. He feels calm... even if he doesn’t know what he will do yet.
Driving on a trip the next day, his phone rings. It’s Dennis’ cardiologist.
Dennis says something like, “Congratulations on the baby! I wanted to call to ask what my next steps are.”
“There are no next steps.”
“No, but I want it fixed.”
“Your heart is good. Go off the meds.”
“Didn’t you see the reports?”
“I did. Your heart wasn’t done healing. Get off the meds. Come back in six months.”
Dennis finds a rest area, choked up. He asked for guidance—is this it? He goes into the restroom… every single medicine gets flushed right down the toilet.
“God, it’s in Your hands,” he says.
For three years since, his heart has been without an episode. And at the church, he’s found a group of friends inside the men’s group: “I couldn’t be blessed with better friends. They help me be a better a man.”
“Both times, I asked, and I was blessed. I think about it all the time. I think about how I was five years ago, and I am in a better place.”
What is your November 13, 2011? How did you come to join the Willow Creek Huntley family? Is there a time when you simply asked and saw God come through for you in miraculous ways?