I kept thinking about the audible voice I heard (that didn't come through my ears) commanding me to tell Dan and Cheryl Clark who were visiting us that weekend about my physical problem. When I obeyed I was healed.
And the dream I had! I never had a dream like that before. I wondered if it really was from God. Why would God notice me among His vast creation?
I began reading a book called "A New Song" by Pat Boone that I got from the library. Years earlier when he became a celebrity, I proudly told people that Pat and I were both members of the same Church. Then when word spread that he was speaking in tongues, I joined others in saying, "Pat Boone has left the faith."
I'm ashamed to say it, but I had never read his book for myself. Now it had my interest and I could not put it down until I had read every page.
It was September 1991. Cheryl Clark told us about Malcolm Smith's "Search for Self Worth" seminar that was scheduled the following month in Charlotte, North Carolina. She said that she and Dan were going and asked if we would like to meet them there. We said, "Yes!"
As the time drew near, Sylvia and I began to get excited about our trip to Charlotte to attend the seminar with Dan and Cheryl.
One night our daughter Suzanne dropped by our house for a short visit. As she was leaving, I walked with her to her car. Just as she was ready to drive away, I heard someone who sounded just like me say, "Your mother and I are going to Malcolm Smith's seminar in Charlotte next weekend. I wish you and Fred could go with us."
She quickly responded, "I'll ask Fred."
"Why did I say that?" I asked myself as I watched her drive away. I had not thought about inviting them.
"Why did you invite them?" Sylvia asked. "We're supposed to spend time with Cheryl and Dan!"
"I don't know what happened, but I doubt that they will go," I replied.
A couple of days later, Suzanne told me, "Dad, I asked Fred about the seminar and he said yes. So we will be going with you."
Strange, but the more I thought about it, I wondered if the Lord wanted Suzanne and Fred to go to the seminar and that He had used my tongue to ask them.
Then we got another call from Cheryl.
"They won't be able to attend the seminar afterall," Sylvia told me. "They were concerned that they had talked us into going and were letting us down. I told Cheryl that God must have used them to get us interested in going. She got excited when I told her how the Lord had already invited Suzanne and Fred to take their place."
Malcomb's lectures were very beneficial and affected me more than I expected. The following quotes from his lectures were copied from my notes.
Malcomb said, "Man is made in God's image. Without a relationship with God, man is deficient and dysfunctional. He is not as he was made to be.
"Believing the lie, man joined Satan's rebellion and became his slave. Now dead in his spirit and severed from the sense of God's love, he has fallen into mental and emotional confusion.
"He is suspicious of God. The entire understanding of his existence is twisted by Satan's lie.
"He will look for meaning in life in the world around him. Scripture will refer to him from this point on as being in darkness and under its authority.
"Man now seeks his sense of being loved from other creatures. Their smiles, their words of love and their praise will constitute his security.
"Man has become co-dependent. That's the cost of choosing independence from God.
"Lies and half truths characterize the society man created. He deceives himself, fearfully hides the truth of who he is from his fellow man and seeks to hide from God.
"Spiritually speaking, he lurks in the shadows, always hiding from the truth.
"Tragically, the Fall twisted and bent the human race. We rarely find anyone raised in an atmosphere of knowing God's affirming, unconditional accepting love."
Then a strong thought came to my mind: "He's talking about you, Bob. Remember this..."
And I remembered my two daughters, Suzanne and Robynne, standing near the basketball goal beside the driveway at our home in Orlando years ago when they were young. One of them held a basketball. Both smiled in anticipation and said, "Daddy! Look! Watch us play basketball!"
I hardly looked their way. I mumbled, "Uh huh, that's nice" and just walked on by.
Yes. I could see now. I made my children feel like they had to earn my approval and love.
Malcolm continued: "Parents have their own pain-filled empty hearts. They are looking for an answer to their own feelings of shame and worthlessness. They have no knowledge of unconditional love to give to their children. They can only pass on their iniquity."
Malcolm's message continued to stir memories from my past. When our children were small I remember how difficult it was for me to show affection -- to hug them. Or to hug my parents or anyone else...
It was even harder to say, "I love you." I couldn't seem to get my tongue to say those words. I remember when I even flinched at another's touch.
Malcolm was saying, "The child interprets this absence of love in terms of his not being lovable, that there is something wrong with him -- he is worthless."
And I was thinking: Over the years I have overcome some of those feelings. But it breaks my heart to think how this must have affected my children.
"There is hope!" Malcolm added. "God can heal the hurts and fill the void. When we place our lives into His hands, He begins healing our relationship with Him. Then we are in a position to bring healing to other areas of our lives. We can forgive those who have hurt us because God has forgiven us.
"Without Jesus, our identity has been blurred by the lie. Our love is toxic, arising out of our need to be loved in return. We could not believe we were worth being loved. We cared for others, hoping that we would be lovable and significant in the eyes of those for whom we cared.
"In Jesus we find that our true identity is in the love that God has for us. In Him we are complete -- whole within ourselves."
A "Bear Hug" from God
November 4, 1991. It was early morning. I was lying on the floor at the foot of our bed doing my morning stretching exercises. Darkness still filled the bedroom. I knew it was time to get dressed for work, but I lingered for a few more moments of rest. Unexpectedly, my mind was flooded with thoughts of my life of loneliness from early childhood on up and the lack of touching, hugs and kisses. I didn't remember anyone telling me that they loved me.
Suddenly I was engulfed by an invisible force, like a cushion of air, squeezing me from outside and inside too. My face became twisted and distorted, but there was no pain. I had no control over the sounds of groaning, as air was forced from deep within my lungs through my throat and out my mouth... I had no control over it, and I would have been embarrassed if someone else had been in the room. (I was glad that Sylvia was in another room with the door closed.) Tears flowed... My sinuses poured...
Although it was still dark outside and there were no lights on in the room, and I was facing the ceiling with my eyes closed, a light appeared and grew brighter like the sun. I heard the distinct sound of the words and instrumental music of two different songs playing inside my head. I had only heard these songs once or twice some time in the past. I wasn't remembering them. I was hearing them play again, but this time the sound didn't come through my ears. The two songs were playing simultaneously and as amazing as it seemed, I was able to comprehend the words of each song.
Both songs had to do with letting Jesus be seen in me. Amid thoughts about my need to read the Bible more and to pray more, I knew that I was receiving a "bear hug" from the Lord.
One of the songs was "Create in Me" written by Joel Hemphill and sung by his daughter Candy:
"Creator, please create in me
something to glorify thee.
You made all the heavens
and earth out of nothing.
Nothing is all I will be
Unless You come create in me."
The other song was "I Am What You Are" written and sung by Steve Chapman:
"It would mean so much to me
If You're the only one they see.
If my life doesn't show them You,
I know I'm living in vain.
If my life doesn't show them You,
May they never know my name."
God was saying, "Bob, I love you! You're not yet what I want you to be, but I'll fix that if you will let Me."
As wonderful as this experience was, I regret what I did next.
I thought, "This is great, and I would like for this to continue, but I'm going to be late for work."
The Lord released the pressure, gave me another small squeeze, then everything faded away, including the light.
I was so ashamed... The Creator of the universe was hugging me and I "pushed Him away" -- just so I could get dressed and go to work!
I apologized to God and asked Him to do it again, but nothing happened.
Later that morning as we drove to work, I timidly told Sylvia about my experience. She said she knew something was going on, had heard the sounds, and wondered what was happening.
On another day the Lord showed His power again, this time in response to prayer.
Brevard Federal's computer room where I worked was located next door to the insurance agency where Sylvia worked. We usually ate lunch together in the agency's kitchen, but on this particular day she and the other employees had gone out to lunch together.
I was alone at the table reading a book and chewing an apple, when suddenly I bit a big hole in my tongue. I began bleeding profusely. I touched my tongue with a paper towel and it was immediately saturated with blood.
I panicked! How do I stop the bleeding? How do I stop the bleeding?!! I knew that I could not put a tourniquet on my tongue! Should I go to the hospital emergency room? Should I go upstairs and seek assistance from the other bank employees? Several options came to mind, but none of them seemed practical.
I went back into the computer room. Roger, who worked with me, had just returned from lunch. I told him that I had already soaked several paper towels with blood, and asked if he knew how I might stop the bleeding. He didn't know what to suggest.
I returned to the kitchen where I had been eating. Sylvia and the other ladies had just returned. I showed her my tongue.
"Ooooh, how gross!" she exclaimed.
"Here I am bleeding to death, and she is not sympathetic!" I thought.
"Go to the restroom and put a paper towel on it. Press hard and hold it there," she added.
So I went to the Men's Room. My tongue was bleeding as badly as before. There had been no let up! As I went toward the sink and reached for a paper towel, I thought to pray -- FINALLY!!! I asked the Lord to stop the bleeding and with all the confidence I could muster that He would respond, I said, "Thank you, Lord."
I opened my mouth and looked in the mirror at my bleeding tongue. The area that was bleeding was at least a quarter of an inch in diameter. Amazingly, I never had an opportunity to use the paper towel in my hand.
I watched spellbound as my tongue swiftly healed. The bleeding began to appear as little red bubbles of air that went pop, pop, pop, and the dark red hole sealed. There was no tapering off. One moment my tongue was bleeding badly. The next moment no bleeding at all! My tongue hurt just as much, but the bleeding had stopped.
The Lord performed a miracle in answer to my prayer, and He let me watch in the mirror!
I Am Loved
From time to time I would think about the wonderful ways that I had been experiencing God's presence, and try to understand what was happening.
"Why do you have to analyze everything to death? Why don't you just accept it?" Sylvia asked.
I had been taught that miracles had ceased. Isn't that what the Bible says? And the Holy Spirit's job was to inspire the apostles and confirm the message until the New Testament was complete.
On the other hand, I had learned during the last few years that some of my favorite doctrines were not in the Bible. Maybe I had been wrong about the Holy Spirit, miracles, and spiritual gifts, too. What I had experienced was certainly supernatural. And God was definitely involved. I had no doubt about that.
As the significance of what I had been experiencing became more and more apparent to me, my heart began to soften. It began to break down the wall of protection I had built around me.
I had not let anyone get very close. I didn't want to be hurt again. I was suspicious of others. I didn't know if I could trust anyone. Does anyone love me? Some say they do, but do they really mean it? Probably not. And I wouldn't blame them if they didn't. I didn't like me very much either.
But lately I had been finding out that Someone does love me -- just as I am! His name is Jesus!
Sure, I knew that before -- intellectually.
I read it in the Bible and I believed it. However, there is a big difference when Jesus puts His arms around you and tells you in person.
The Creator of the heavens and earth knows my name! He knows everything about me. He has known my every thought. And in spite of that, He still loves me. He loves me unconditionally!
I could hardly take it all in. I fought to hold back the tears...
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