By Leslie Raynes
Father’s Day, June 16, 2019, seemed like a normal day. We had our morning service, honoring all the fathers who’d joined us, and were headed to spend time with my father-in-law. About ten minutes into the trip, I started to feel very odd. By the time we arrived, I had only gotten worse. Quickly I found myself lying back in a chair, unable to feel my face and having trouble remembering the events of that morning. As my husband called for an ambulance, and my young children taken to another room so they wouldn’t be frightened, all I could think was “Jesus, don’t let me die.”
At the hospital, they asked me to lift my right arm and my right foot off the stretcher. I was unable to do either. Up until this point, I thought I was probably having some sort of anxiety attack and would be fine. In the emergency room, I looked at the nurse and tried to motion that they needed to start an IV. She came to my side showing me the IV was already in my arm and said, “You didn’t feel that did you, sweetie?” I tried to shake my head “no” as tears began to roll down my face.
The neurologist confirmed I’d had a major stroke. He gave the attending physician instructions, and I was admitted to the ICU. They took me for a MRI and asked if I had any questions. All I could ask was, “Can I sing?” They told me “No, but you can hum.” I lay in the machine and the only song that came to my mind was “Amazing Grace.” I hummed it as best I could and fell asleep.
I have no memory of the next ten hours. I awoke in the ICU at 2:00 am. My nurse came in and explained to me where I was, that my family was not allowed in my room until the next morning and gave me all of my test results so far. I thanked her and she closed the door as she left.
I couldn’t help but cry as I thought back over all that had happened. I then proceeded to pray. I prayed mostly with my tears. The only words I remember saying out loud were, “I don’t understand, Lord. I’m only thirty years old. God, I didn’t think I needed anything else to add to my testimony.” I felt the peaceful and comforting Spirit of God walk into my room and as clear as I’ve ever heard anyone speak to me, I heard His voice. All He had to say was six words: “It’s not your testimony. It’s Mine.”
After that, I experienced peace that passes all understanding. I can’t explain it. I just knew everything was going to be alright. I didn’t know how, when, or why, but I knew it. I had my moments of self-pity, sadness, and trial. But I held on to what I knew.
Sometimes we may face a situation and we may not “feel” God or “feel” like “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). But we know He is God. We know He saved us and we know His Word does not lie.
I spent six days in the hospital, ten days at inpatient rehab, and then had outpatient physical therapy. During that time, I had to learn to walk again, feed myself again, fix my hair again, and how to take care of my family again. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Then on Thursday, July 4, my husband, children, and I went to Louisiana Camp Meeting. I had to go in with the help of my walker. Evangelist Mark Drost preached that night. He preached about the persecution of the church and how the devil can try to take the truth and the doctrine away from us. But he can never take away a miracle. There is no denying a miracle when you see it, or better yet, when you live it.
I made my way to the front during altar call. I pushed my way through the crowd until Brother Drost could lay hands on me. As soon as his hand touched my forehead, it felt like fire and electricity running through my body and out of my right side. Then he spoke two words: “Now run!” I let go of my walker and took off running as if I were in the race of my life. God had healed me, instantly!
In the days that followed, God allowed me to understand why this had happened. I don’t know how many phone calls, conversations, and messages I received, but each one was of how their faith grew as they watched me run across the front of the tabernacle.
You see, the miracle wasn’t just for me. It was for the church. God let me know the church needed an increase in faith for the days ahead. As we continue to navigate the unknown and COVID, let me simply remind you that we are not called to understand God, only to trust Him. When He gives you a promise, never doubt it. Now run!
Leslie Raynes is the wife of Jarryd Raynes, pastor of Upper Room Church in Hessmer, Louisiana, a church they planted six years ago. They have three beautiful children: Kingston, Audrey, and Lincoln.