For over half a century, my life has been defined by my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and with Miriam, my wonderful and loving wife for more than forty-eight of those years. December first, 2016, Miriam was called home after a long bout with chronic Lyme Disease. I had been her caregiver 24/7 and those first few days and nights following her passing were filled with turmoil. I cried to the Lord asking for guidance. I trusted His ways and, though I missed her terribly, I thanked Him for taking Miriam, releasing her from her bondage into a life of perfect health, freedom and joy. After three days, He began taking me through the events of our lives together, how they were part of His plan, and how closely we had worked together as a team.
Miriam and I had several college classes together at Alaska Methodist University and I was very fond of her though we never dated. She was quite popular and during most of our senior year, her steady companion was another student named Bill. One day, outside a main campus building, I asked if she was happy dating Bill. She said she was. So, I said—and truly meant it—“I want you to be happy and fulfilled. If you are happy with him, then I am satisfied.” Then I turned and walked away.
Truth is, she wasn’t happy and was just covering up because she thought I was trying to wheedle into her life at that point. But when I turned and walked away, she realized the young man she was dating did not care for her unconditionally as I did. After I committed my life to Christ a few months later, she asked me to take her downtown and we have been together ever since.
I wrote in the book Who Told You That You Were Naked? how the Lord called me into the ministry by vision at Moose Creek bridge just outside of Palmer, Alaska and that He revealed my call to Miriam on the same day and hour in Anchorage. But I did not write about two other visions the Lord gave me at that time.
In the first one, I saw a meadow deep in the forest, and in the middle grew a single flower. With no other flowers around, it had no way of being pollinated. For the longest time, it swayed in the breezes holding on tight to its petals hoping for a miracle. Then, when it could hold on no longer, I heard the sound of a bee winging its way through the forest. And in next image, the meadow was completely covered with flowers and their presence extended into the forest on all sides as far as I could see.
The next vision depicted Miriam and me in a dark cave. There was a light in the distance. But it was so faint I had to turn my head to one side to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of it. We both struggled toward the light. But boulders, jagged rocks and deep pits littered the floor making headway nearly impossible and cutting our hands and legs in the process. It seemed like we never got any closer to the light, and our hearts struggled with the prospect of remaining trapped in this darkness. Then quite suddenly, I grabbed her hand and we ran into the sunshine.
Later, Miriam enrolled in the master’s program in piano performance at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and I took a position as youth pastor of the two Presbyterian churches in town. One morning, shortly before noon, the Lord gave me three visions while I was praying for our youth group.
The secretary for Miriam’s music department had recently been in a terrible accident. A car had side-swiped hers, driving her off the road and head-on into a metal highway sign post. The impact slammed her forward, breaking many bones and propelling her head over the steering wheel with such force it literally unplugged her brain from her spinal cord. The accident did everything but kill her. She was in such horrible shape surgery was ruled out and she was placed in a nursing home to die. In my first vision, the Lord said He wanted Miriam and me to go to this lady’s bedside and pray for healing.
A troubled girl in our youth group came from a broken family. We surrounded her with love and the assurance we were always there for her. In my second vision, I watched this girl walk by our house and down to our front door. Miriam greeted her and a few moments later, the girl emerged with a huge smile on her face. I knew she made a commitment to Christ.
Finally, the Lord showed me a globe turned so I could see the west coast of the United States. Out of the Pacific Northwest, a small flame erupted and quickly spread down the coast, across the country and around the world.
I thanked the Lord and drove home for lunch. Miriam greeted me saying, “You will never guess who just left! The girl we’ve been praying for decided to drop by for a few minutes. She wanted the same relationship we had with the Lord and just left with a big smile on her face.”
Miriam continued: “After she left, I thanked the Lord for His mercy, and then He said we should pray for my secretary’s healing.” I stood speechless for a moment and said God had revealed these things to me as well. Then, I shared the vision of the globe.
I called the secretary’s husband for permission to visit her and, with more than a little trepidation, we entered her room. This dear woman lay face up, her head panning side to side with unfocused eyes. But when I opened my eyes after praying for her healing, she was gazing intently at my face.
Her husband came by shortly afterwards and, seeing her much improved, he hastily wrote names on a clipboard of people she knew and some only he knew. He placed her one good hand on the clipboard and asked her to identify her friends—and she slowly lowered her hand to each one. Before we left for seminary a few weeks later, we returned to her room to find her sitting up in a soft chair. I told her if she asked the Lord, He could make her walk. Shortly after we arrived at seminary, one of the students in our youth group wrote and said the secretary was walking.
During my last year at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, a couple from our Bellingham youth group decided to visit us. They had become Pentecostals and stopped in the Bay area to attend worship. During the service, someone prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit on the Pacific Northwest prompting our friends to share my vision of the globe. They could hardly wait to see us. The Lord said the prophecy was the interpretation of my vision and that He wanted us in the Northwest right after seminary.
However, complicating circumstances would make it difficult for me to pastor a church in Washington state. Two Presbyterian denominations had recently joined to become the United Presbyterian Church in the USA. This consolidation meant many pastors would be looking for new positions that summer. So, we were advised to accept whatever we were offered.
My first offer came from a classmate of the seminary president who called him asking if he could recommend a student to be his assistant in North Dakota. The president recommended me. So, this pastor called firmly expecting me to accept. I thanked him and said I would reply the next day. If I divided the USA into quadrants, North Dakota would be in the northwest quadrant. But the Lord reminded me the flame didn’t come out of North Dakota. So, I called and graciously declined.
Next, the pastor of the Anchorage First Presbyterian Church called and offered me an assistant position. I thanked him and said I would reply the next day. Anchorage is in the extreme northern portion of the Pacific Northwest. But again, God said the flame had not come out of Anchorage. So, I declined the offer.
When the denomination finally published its openings in western Washington, it listed only three churches: a pastorate in a mission church in Seattle, an assistant position in Aberdeen, and a pastorate in a mission church in Montesano.
The interview at the Seattle church went nowhere, and the one in Aberdeen was OK, but we didn’t feel it was where the Lord wanted us. However, the Montesano interview was like a love fest, and by fall they voted to accept this young couple into their confidence.
There were only about 25 parishioners attending regularly when we came in September. But by January, when the church was to make their renewal request for continued mission support, they informed the Presbytery they no longer needed the funds. And by the time we left eleven years later, this thriving congregation had one of the highest per capita percentages of giving for missions in the Presbytery.
We moved to Seattle to obtain better medical help for Miriam’s increasing bouts of depression, anxiety and interstitial cystitis. I had worked for Boeing while Miriam finished her master’s degree and before I took the youth pastor position. With no church openings available, I returned to Boeing and retired in 2008 as a senior computing systems architect and member of their technical fellowship. Unfortunately, neither mainstream nor alternative medicine alleviated Miriam’s worsening condition.
In 2014, a naturopath on Bainbridge Island finally diagnosed late-stage chronic Lyme—a disease she likely contracted as a teenager in Michigan or Idaho and which accounted for all of her intractable symptoms.
One day as we were leaving for Bainbridge, I cried to the Lord, “I feel we are in a cave and can’t find our way out.” Almost immediately, God said, “Her disease and inability to progress is the interpretation of your Moose Creek vision.” So, I prayed many times after that for guidance so we could run into the sunshine.
Shortly after Miriam’s passing, the Lord reminded me of the cave vision saying I was spelling sunshine incorrectly—that it should be SON-shine instead. I broke down in tears of joy realizing He had indeed brought her into the SON-shine of His presence.
Many times I have felt as if my life was slipping away without further benefit to the Kingdom of God. But He recently revealed to me just as the flower clung to its petals in hope, a time is coming when my meadow and the surrounding forest will be visited by His bee—and ultimately in His time—the globe will be blessed by the Spirit of God.
Finally, unlike during our college days, I do not question whether Miriam is now happy and fulfilled living in the care of our Lord. I have seen her twice since her passing in dreams that were not dreams. She is young again and very much alive. She reached out lovingly, touched me and I woke up grateful He has given her all that I couldn’t—all I ever wanted for her and more.
January 18, 2017