A Story by John Ray
Thursday evening a few weeks ago I noticed on Facebook that a dear friend was planning on being in service the following Sunday. She sings a song entitled It Is Well With My Soul. Thinking about that song I began to question in my mind, is it really well in my soul God? With colon surgery on December 10th, followed by a urinary tract infection, followed by two in excess of 90% blocked arteries that required the implant of two stints, my faith was very low. I couldn't make myself except words of encouragement and healing from many friends. I went to bed questioning God as to my future, do I need to get my family and life in order? I woke up around 2:30 in the morning still questioning God and bawling like a baby. I woke up Beverly and asked her if she knew where the gospel music channel was located...the one that plays Southern Gospel 24-7. She found it for me while I tried to keep my broken spirit from her. Crying, I began to listen to the music and the words that were being sung.
All at once, it was as though God was listening. And then it happened. God invited me to GOD'S FRONT PORCH and low and behold a song began to play entitled On God's Front Porch Is Where I Want To Be. As I listened to the words they began to take me back to my childhood. They began to remind me of things in my past beginning when I was 3 years of age laying on the floor under a pew in my grandfather's church. God reminded me of miracles I had seen with my very own eyes. It was amazing the things that God was showing me. He brought me though my teenage years, to my college days, to my twenties as the Mississippi State youth leader, to the many wonderful years as Minister of Music in Blytheville Arkansas, all the way to the current day. God let me know that through it all he had been right by side. My heart was full and all I could do was bawl. Then it was as though God spoke to me, "Now listen to the words of this song right now, son." As I began to listen to the song, I heard these words:
Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn't know that the war had been won
Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free
It is finished the battle is over
It is finished there'll be no more war
It is finished the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord
You have won son
I began to listen to the songs as they played, and if I had the song list and a pen and paper I could not have orchestrated the list any better. I knew every song and in my heart I sang everyone of them while bawling my eyes out. The presence of the Lord was so real. He continued to minister to me and brought me to the position of prayer. I prayed for favor for my family, I prayed for favor for my pastor and staff, I prayed for my extended family, for many of our dear friends, and last but not least that he would show me signs of favor of his continued work in my life. I rolled out of the bed at about 8:30 after not having slept the rest of the night and felt like I had a good night's rest, but I was still weeping because of my front porch experience with the Lord.
Three days later my daughter sent me an iPad that they no longer used, and Beverly loaded up about 96 Southern Gospel songs on it. Not hearing the title of the song from earlier, I asked her if she would Google the words that were still running through my mind. She did and said it was called It Is Finished. I looked at the song list on the iPad and low and behold it was the second song Bev had loaded onto the iPad. So then I asked her about a song entitled God's Front Porch. She found it and loaded it for me, and I am in Heaven now. I tear up to this day as I listen to these songs. April (my friend I mentioned earlier), I can truly say, "It Is Well With My Soul."
God gave me this scripture one morning as I spoke with Beverly found in Psalms 71:17-24. "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and here to have declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is come, thy righteousness also, O God is very high, who hast done great things unto thee! Thou who shewed me great and sore troubles, thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side. I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God; unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Isreal, my lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the night long: for they are confounded, for they brought into shame, that seek my hurt."
To God's glory I can't begin to tell you all the confirmations God has granted me since that night. My children have all been blessed beyond belief. My heart doctor told me on my last visit that my EKG was good, my chest and lungs were clear, and that I was going to live to be an old man. I said, "Doc, I am already 71." And he replied, "No! I said an old man." With that I thanked him for the pep talk. I just finished Chemo treatment # 5, but just prior to taking the treatment the Doctor wanted to do a comparison CT Scan. After completing the scan, Beverly and I went to examination room and waited for the doctor. After about 30 minutes, Doctor Somer bounced through the door and excitedly said, "Mr. Ray, your CT scan is amazing!" I asked how amazing, and in what manner. He stated that I had between a 70 to 80% reduction in cancer cell activity in my body!! The relief Bev and I felt was overwhelming. God has granted me extended days to reflect on the value of the gift and share the blessing of life with others that they might reflect on the greatness of God and his love for us.
God is giving me opportunities to share my testimony with friends, neighbors, and my nurses. You don't know where you are going until you know where you are coming from. I have determined in my mind to tell anyone who will listen and they will hear me talk of God's goodness and healing power. A gift given to me, it's value can only be measured by what I do with it.
Honor your Heritage that you may fulfill your destiny. It is true that I still have my good and bad days, but God ain't done with me yet!