THE JOURNEY: PART VI

THE TRIP

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August 2012.

So after a few days of wrestling, I had made the decision that a road trip to Cleveland was in my very near future.  This, of course, would lead to two more crucial decisions that I would have to make before I could move forward with any final plans.  When, and with who.  Simple enough questions, but one’s that would require much thought before answering.

I decided to start out with the “who” part of the question first:

  • My first thought was “I’d really like to have the strength of another man to walk through this portion of the journey with me”.  Now I know that on the surface this may seem a little insensitive, but I assure you that, that in no way was my intent.  I had no desire to exclude Julie from any part of this process.  Although I have no doubt she would have boarded that plane right by my side if I had asked her to, I wanted to give her time to process/digest and come to terms with everything that was changing in our world.  Besides, I am  pretty sure she thought I was “half baked” when I told her that I was thinking about going to Ohio to see a “faith healer”.
  • My second thought was a little more selfish.  I wanted someone who’s strength I could count on, someone, who if only for a short time, would help me carry the burden of making this trip.   I was tired, mentally and emotionally.  I needed a friend to lean on.
  • My third thought was actually a plethora of thoughts, all separate and distinct but combined into one cohesive conclusion
    • I am blessed to have several men in my life worthy of the request to accompany me to Ohio, but which one was the right one for me to choose for this trip?
    • Who would be the most open and supportive, not just of me, but of the cause.  With everything already going on in my head, the last thing I wanted or needed to deal with was someone else’s doubt!
    • Who would have the time and the resources to take time off and go?
    • Lastly, even if they met all of the criteria, who would really be WILLING to do this?

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I went through this matrix in my head time and time again.  And, each time, the same conclusion.  God kept separating out one person as being “half baked” enough to do this.  SCOTT DENTON.

The only problem was that I did not know Scott all that well…yet.  So I was faced with the daunting task of asking someone who I had never even had a cup of coffee with if he wanted to fly across the country with me on a whim, spend a couple of nights at the local Holiday Inn, and attend a “faith and healing” service with me by a man I learned about through the internet?

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Unfortunately, as I hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks trying to figure out how to broach the subject with Scott, my platelet count had a significant decrease.  So much so, that for the first time, I saw a noticeable change in the demeanor of my City of Hope hematologist (previously, the optimistic one).  This obviously created a much greater sense of urgency for me to “pop the question” to Scott and get this trip planned.  I can’t really remember how I asked or what I said, but I do know that I had significant levels of uncomfortable awkwardness as I approached him (you know the feeling, like asking to borrow money from someone or asking the prettiest girl out on a date).

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I will always remember for the rest of my life (or as long as my meds allow) Scott’s response which came without a second of hesitation.  There was no “can I get back to you” or “let me check with my wife” or “how much will it cost”, just an immediate response of “road trip?…I love road trips!” accompanied by a kid in a candy store look on his face.

Here is the thing that touches me the most about this whole thing, a man, who for all intents and purposes did not know me from Adam, was ALL IN on my behalf.  His response was completely genuine, absent of any sense of obligation or judgment.  It was truly an authentic commitment of love and friendship…and while I have heard the words before, few have ever legitimized them with actions.

We were now in September and the dates of the trip were fast approaching.  There was now only one remaining hang-up in the plan to get to Ohio.  Scott informed me that he was a marked man, that every time he flew, he would be stopped, questioned and strip searched by the TSA.  I told him that as a friend, I would stand by his side just as he was doing for me…right up to strip search.  At that point, he was on his own!  The irony of it all was that Scott walked right through the checkpoint untouched.  I however got pulled aside.  Several minutes into the process of having my back pack swabbed down drugs or explosive residue, I looked over and saw Scott sitting on the other side of the checkpoint laughing at with a you know what kind of a grin on his face.  Finally, after re-running the backpack though the x-ray machine again, the TSA guard finally found what he was looking for.  It seems my son, who had borrowed my backpack to go winetasting with his girlfriend, had placed a small combination wine opener/jack knife into one of the many small compartments and neglected to remove it when he returned it to me.

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Finally, we were on our way.  We arrived in Cleveland, picked up the car, checked in at the Holiday Inn where the service would be conducted the next day, and then decided that we would meet up in an hour for dinner.  After soliciting the input of the front desk clerk, we decided to hit the local steakhouse.  This would be my first dinner experience with the man who had agreed to travel across the country in support of my quest to find healing.  And quite an experience it was!  The steak was good, but what I will remember most was how Scott made the server, a sweet young woman named Amanda, cry at our tableside!  In Scott’s defense, it was actually a very tender moment brought about by one of Scott’s many poignant questions that he tends to ask those who cross his path.  This question was simply something to the effect of “what do you want to do when you grow up?”  She wanted to be a nurse, but in her response, there was a depth of sharing about how her uncle, who had been in a terrible motorcycle accident, inspired her to want to care for others.  We were touched, by the response, but even more, by the tenderness of her heart.

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The next morning, we arose early and decided to meet for a quick breakfast at the hotel lobby restaurant before heading over to the prayer and healing conference.  I admit I was a little unsure of what to expect as we walked up the hallway to the banquet room.  We signed in, showed them our tickets and took our seats.  I thought it would be crazy with hundreds of people waiting to rush in, but it was very calm and orderly.  The room was set up with several spots marked up front where individuals would go up to receive their prayer.  I was relieved to know that others would be standing up there at the same time I would be there and that all eyes would not be on me as I received my prayer.  As we took our seats towards the front, I felt a distinct peace in the room and within me.  I began to pray for those in the room, those sitting around us, and of course a quick prayer for myself, that I would be open to the healing hand of God reaching down to touch me.  I leaned over to Scott and told him that he should not feel obligated to go up to the front with me to which the basic meaning of his response to me was “try to stop me”.  Now this meant something coming from the man whose job it was (in his own words), “to be the guy who calmly leaned over to Lyle and called “bullshit” if in fact “bullshit” needed to be called.  I understood my role and was more than willing to do the job.  I counted it an honor to be the one on point, looking out for a friend who may or may not be too emotionally involved to see the forest for the trees so to speak.”  By the way, Dr. Nemeh loves skeptics.

Click here for Dr. Nemeh on skeptics!

After much time on the internet reading, watching and researching this man, I was drawn by his genuine humility.  He does not claim credit for any of the healings, rather he is clear to pass that credit on to God Himself.  When a simple “thank you” is directed his way, he immediately responds, “don’t thank me, thank God”.  He will simply tell you that he is not the “healer”, but rather a man of “unshakable faith who is connected to God” who prays and lets God do the healing!  His mission: “to complete our faith” and “wins souls to the Lord.”

Click here for more Dr. Nemeh coverage.

When Dr. Nemeh walked into the room, I was struck by how this man looked exactly like he did on all of the videos I had seen of him on the internet.  He was soft spoken and radiated a gentle kindness.  He made direct eye contact with each person as he approached them and asked them what was going on right before he would begin praying for them.  Finally, our time had come to head up front.  When he reached us,  he asked what was going on with me and I gave him the laundry list.  He laid his hand on me and began to pray.  My mind faded to black and I felt this great peace fall over me.  I remember trying to listen to how he prayed and what he said, but only caught the words “In the name of Jesus, come Holy Spirit” before his voice faded and began to sound like he was mumbling in some sort of foreign language.  I also distinctly remember fighting to keep my balance leaning back on my heels feeling like I was on the verge of needing to put one foot behind me in order to keep myself from falling back into the arms of the “catcher” standing behind me as many before me had already done.  As his prayer for me concluded, I was a little sad that I did not experience an immediate dramatic charismatic like response of running up and down the aisles speaking in tongues or falling to the ground convulsing as the Spirit was healing my body.  Instead, I simply opened my eyes and turned to my left and watched as Dr. Nemeh began to pray over Scott.  Ironically, as soon as Dr. Nemeh laid his hand on Scott, he stumbled back a step before catching his balance.  Once we got back to our seats, I watched intently to see what kind of pressure Dr. Nemeh applied as he laid hands on each person he prayed for.  I even went back and watched video of other prayer and healing sessions.  What I saw was a man with a soft and gentle touch barely applying any pressure at all and certainly not enough for any grown man to go down from.  In each video, (if you watch) you will notice that even those who did not go down, wobbled like a weeble once he began praying for them.  I later had the opportunity to ask Dr. Nemeh what that sensation of falling backwards was due to, his answer…“it was the Holy Spirit”.

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Scott and I were so impacted by the service that we chose to stay for the remainder even though we were free to leave once we had received our prayer.  It felt almost selfish to “receive and leave” so we stayed and through our own prayers, petitioned God on behalf of those who were still being prayed for.  We actually stayed so long, that they asked us to vacate our seats so they could begin prepping the room for the afternoon session.  Since it was clearly time for us to leave, we decided to implement the next strategically vital step of our well thought out plan.  We jumped into the car and trekked down the street to debrief at the local Wendy’s, where a cheeseburger, fries and a frostie were reserved in our names.  But before we left, we stopped at the check in desk outside the conference room where I met a lady named Jane (who I would later find out volunteered for Dr. Nemeh) who told me that I needed to come back for a one on one appointment and to call back when I got back home.

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What we experienced in that room alleviated any skepticism that we had walked in with.  Scott never needed to call “bullshit”, in fact it was just the opposite.  We had clearly emerged from the prayer and healing session changed men, still not perfect (well not Scott anyways), but changed…in a good way.  There was a true transformation.  For me, I am embarrassed to admit, it was a revelation about how BIG our God really is, so much more than the Sunday morning church god whose miracles are plastered on the pages of a bible dating back a bajillion or so years ago when the apostles were still walking from town to town before the invention of fossil fuels, global warming and the internet.  He became THE LIVING GOD who walks amongst us and whose love for us is greater than anything we can ever imagine and I still believe that He is performing miracles among us today!

There is so much more that I want to share about this amazing weekend experience with you all, but since I have been commissioned to write a blog and not a novel, I will conclude with a couple of semi-brief thoughts.

The first is how sad I am that I lack the words that truly convey the beauty of the experience in that room that day as Dr. Nemeh prayed over me.  To simply describe it as amazing would be like describing Mathew McConaughey without a shirt on as just another shirtless 40 something year old or calling a Maserati glorified Fiat.  At the risk of sounding cliché, I can only say that to truly understand it, you have to experience it.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did photoshop Mathew’s face onto my body and that is my car in the picture)

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The dictionary defines the word forge as: “to form or make, especially by concentrated effort”.  The bible says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).   Although initially born under ordinary circumstances, the true depth, strenght and, of course, joy of this friendship was forged under the trial of crisis.  It is a friendship that has left an indellable mark on my heart and soul and impacted me as no other friendship has. Ironically, but not coincidentally, the same life circumstances that brought me to my knees also brought me the great blessing of one of my most treasured friendships.  Once again, I am burdened by the lack the words with which I can  adequately convey how I feel about this man, what he has done for me and how he has touched my life.  As simply as I can put it, when I see Scott, I see someone who was with me (and my family) at that perverbial “moment of truth”, without hesitation, without reservation, without judgement and without self-interest.

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Lastly, I am sure that everyone wants to know if I have been “healed”.  And here is my answer:  I  believe that my  healing has begun and I believe that my numbers will once again (one day soon) return to “normal”.  As I sit here today, my blood levels are “stable” and have shown “slight improvements” with each subsequent test (this is a good thing).  The first (blood) test after I returned from my prayer with Dr. Nemeh, my platelet count (which had hit its lowest point just before the trip) had returned to its highest levels in months (although still short of being considered “normal”).  With the upward trend, City of Hope has put me on a 6 month check-up roation (prior was every couple of months) and St Jude is every 3 months or so with a blood test every 6 weeks or so.

As I have learned through this process, God works in His time…not mine.  Healings are not always instantaneous, some may happen slowly over time and require multiple prayers.  In the meantime, I will continue to believe that healing ultimatley comes from God and that Dr. Nemeh is one of chosen instruments at His disposal.  I will continue to count the last 8 months of my life as God’s greatest blessing to me.  I will continue to give Him glory for how His hand has influenced my life and reminded me that He is the boss of me and not the other way around.  I will continue to grow in the freedom of knowing that all of us have a finite amount of time left in this world and that we are to use it to for God’s glory.  I will continue to believe that what we do with that time matters to God and that His Great Commission reminds us that “harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”.  I will continue to be blessed by God’s faithfulness to me in times of turbulence.  And lastly, I will continue to love others as He first loved me!

Again, just a quick reminder for those who may be interested, Dr. Nemeh will be holding a prayer and healing conference in Los Angeles on May 4th & 5th to the LAX Marriott.  You can find information at www.pathtofaith.com.