It’s a great story, really, involving a dream of six young African girls whom I’ve never met, and their prayers.
I have this “condition” I guess you’d call it, which the doctors refer to as “cluster headaches.” Think of migraines that come along in, well, clusters in terms of timing. Back in March I had two of them that lasted three or four days each, with a couple of days in between.
And then an unusual 23-day, incessant headache from which there was no relief. My doctors tried everything from tweaking medications to all the go-to treatments. Anything short of cutting off my head, which I figured would solve one problem but might create a few others.
Both of my doctors, each great believers, were praying for me, as was my wife. She has the capacity to keep on when some might give up. Some folks in my church were praying, and some friends in Texas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey (yes, they pray there), California, South Carolina, and, as it turns out, at least one other place…
Hard to believe it, but I actually meet folks from time to time who have never had a headache. “What?” I respond. “Have you never run headlong, full-speed, into another human being in a football drill, practicing for such an incident in a real football game?” (Fact: in ten years of “organized” football, I never had a head-on collision with an opponent. But that’s just me.) I’m just saying that headaches have been part of my life since I was a young fellow.
On that Monday the headache was as bad as it had been during the 23 days. Prednisone had not helped, and the Durable Medical Equipment supplier had sworn they couldn’t fill the prescription for oxygen as written by the doctor, so that what they gave me actually damaged my nostril (good grief!). I went to bed Monday night with a bad headache and wondering what would happen. I was going to be referred to the UNC Headache Clinic the next day.
I somehow went to sleep that night. I was lying on my left side, the side of the headache. Early in the night, I think, I began to dream. I say it was early because this dream seemed to repeat itself many, many times. I’ve tried to describe it like this: have you ever had a dream that was like you were obsessing over something? Something you just could not let go? This was like that. I may have even awakened a time or two and then returned to the dream. Anyone? (I haven’t had any takers yet…)
The dream was of six young African girls, and they were standing in kind of an irregular circle, and they were praying. Each would pray in turn, and when each would pray, it was like a layer of something was being placed on a table or something. Then the next would pray, and a layer would be placed. And on, and on. When the sixth had prayed, the cycle would start again.
Until one time, as I watched (there was no indication that they had any idea that I was watching, nor was there any particular indication that they were praying for me), the cycle progressed and the sixth girl prayed and the layer came down to the table, and I knew it was done and that my headache was gone. This was in the dream.
And I awakened from my sleep. And my headache was gone. I looked at the clock: 1:30 a.m.
I lay there for a while reveling in the no-headache zone and then shook Windy awake. She prayed for me and we praised the Lord for a while, and then drifted back off to sleep. That was some happy sleep; I was rejoicing!
My alarm went off at 5:10 a.m., and I got up to let the dog out and feed her. Did a couple other things and then went to get my glasses and my phone. I noticed a text message from my cousin, in Florida, at 1:25 a.m.: “Hey brother! I’m up, praying for you. How are those headaches?” I refer you to the 1:30 a.m. comment of a few lines above…
Later that morning when I was talking to Bubba, that’s my cousin, he told me that the day before he had been praying, “Lord, some of my friends are always talking about how they see you or they see you do things like heal people or find them parking places or stuff like that and, well, I haven’t seen any of that, and I don’t need to see any of that but sometimes I think it might be nice, but I don’t need to…”
He said when I’d sent him the text telling him about the timing of me waking up without a headache, he praised the Lord and said he told Him “You know Lord, sometimes a boy just likes to see his Dad show off a little!”
Later in the day Windy and I were talking to a friend to whom Windy had already told the story, and this friend said, “Well, you know who those little girls are. They are some of the students at the orphanage in Kenya that y’all support with the wood choppin’!”
Hit me like a log in the head.* I hadn’t thought of it like that.
I shared that with Tom, one of my fellow wood choppers, who is also one of the previously mentioned doctors, and he said it had occurred to him, too.
Ephesians 3:20 indicates that God has resources working that we have no idea of, that we can’t even fathom. We were, I was, frustrated with all the things that didn’t work, but God was more interested in growing my faith than anything else. He used the prayers of my cousin/brother Bubba in the middle of the night, and undoubtedly the prayers of the children of MFangano Island to come to my aid. I never would have thought of any of that! We have a resourceful God. I am thankful…
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… — Eph. 3:20 ESV
*One Saturday morning a few years ago when we were out splitting firewood (see the “wood choppin’” link above), a ~60 lb. log popped off the hydraulic splitter and hit me in the head. I’ve written elsewhere about that, but the short version is that I think it killed me for a few seconds or a few minutes, during which I may have been closer (duh) to the Lord Jesus than ever, and self-resuscitated when I hit the ground. I owe much to the children of Mfangano Island, in particular those at Gethsemane Garden Christian Center.