You may be familiar with Stella and how she got her groove back. It’s the story of a successful black woman in her forties who finds love in the islands after a friend encourages her to “get back out there, date, have some fun.” Stella sets her sights on a younger man then soon realizes the need for balance between love, companionship, and responsibility in life.
While Stella found her groove in a guy, I found mine in Jesus. This is a story of healing and restoration, of how Jennie got her Jesus cape.
In 2013 a tragedy devastated my left arm. The arm, as it was affectionately known, was completely useless. I could not move it, could not use it. I could see it there. I could feel its existence, but I could not do anything with it. My left hand was rendered useless as well. I could not move a single finger, make a fist, grip, or pinch. It was like the power to my left arm had been shut off. I wondered if maybe it would be paralyzed, be lifeless forever.
Initially, the prescribed course of action for the arm included more tests, surgery, and physical therapy. There was a good bit of question and concern surrounding the surgery since it was determined there was no highly-qualified surgeon in the area specialized to tackle the task. I would have to go out of state--Virginia I recall, or some such place. This brief conversation about treatment took place before I was released from the hospital.
On the night of my release, I lay in bed at my parent’s house wondering what was going to happen to my arm. I was sore, stiff, and in pain. I had not yet met with the physician responsible for my recovery and had no clue what to expect. Would I really regain use of my arm? Would it ever look the same or be the same? What was life going to be like with only one good arm?
Though the questions went on and on, one thing was certain: I was not in control. Nothing in my strength was going to repair the arm. There was no magic pill, no quick fix. No sleep it off or take an aspirin. This was big, and it was going to take a while.
Then I realized there was something I could do. And the conversation with myself ensued:
I am saved. I do believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. I claim the blood of Jesus over my life
and over my injuries. I do believe what the word says about miracles of healing. I believe the promises in the Bible. I believe these promises are for me. I believe that if I ask for something in the name of Jesus and it is his will, it will be done. I trust in the healing hand of Christ, the healing power of the Holy Spirit. Surely, if I am saved and I believe and I trust, then I can be healed; my arm will be restored to its original, healthy, strong state.
And so without further hesitation, I placed my right hand on my left arm and began to pray. I prayed a bold, specific prayer with confidence and expectation. This was no wussy prayer!
Father God, in the name of Jesus, I come before you and ask that you restore my arm. Your word says that if I ask, I will have it. If I seek it, I will find it. If I knock, it will be opened to me. So Lord, I am asking, I am seeking, and I am knocking. I know you hear me, and I know you see me. You see my pain. You see my discomfort. I declare by the power of the Holy Spirit that I am healed! My arm is healed! My arm is healthy! My arm will work again! My arm is strong! My arm is able! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!
I believed this on a Monday night in 2013.
Two weeks later, I met the occupational therapist and neurosurgeon responsible for my treatment. At the time, surgery was still a question mark. Diagnostics and an evaluation of my condition had to be completed. A nerve test was ordered to determine the status of the nerves and muscles in the arm. Two of these tests concluded the muscles were responding satisfactorily and the nerve response indicated feeling. This was a win!
After six weeks of intense occupational therapy, the neurosurgeon confirmed that surgery would not be necessary. The arm was responding favorably to therapy. Another win!
Once the arm was back in business, it was time for the hand. A hand therapist bent my fingers, squeezed my fingers, and stretched my fingers. She bent my wrist front to back and massaged my hand until finally I was able to tie my shoes, button my pants, and put my hair in a ponytail. Victory!
I continued to meet with the neurosurgeon every six weeks during occupational therapy. Each time he confirmed that my recovery was satisfactory and was pleased with my progress. I was released after ten months of therapy. My arm was about 85-90% functional. I could once again perform daily tasks such as lifting, pushing, pulling, dragging, holding, cutting, gripping, pinching, and squeezing—things I once took for granted.
Believe it or not, none of this surprised me. I prayerfully remained focused on healing; I diligently performed every stretch and exercise prescribed. I thanked God every day for the amazing physicians in charge of my care. I believed in Matthew 7:7—Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. I still believe it. I stood on Philippians 4:6-7—Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I still stand on this promise.
Healing and restoration of my arm meant revival of life. It brought a whole new meaning to “live life to the fullest.” It meant God had so much more in store for me. Already a lover of life, I decided, like Stella, to “get back out there” and do cool things—things I had never done before, things I only thought about doing or watched others do.
For starters I decided to paint. In 2014 I painted ten canvases. These hang in my computer room. Each one portrays life after the tragedy that nearly destroyed my left arm. I am right handed, so don’t be too impressed (smile). I painted a butterfly, a fish, a woman, a field of flowers, a staff, an owl, a beach, a front porch, a tree in ashes, and a girl in a cape—My Jesus Cape. Respectively, these images illustrate new beginnings, vibrancy, poise, freedom, power, wisdom, tranquility, family, recovery, and strength—qualities I cling to at the core of my existence.
Of these, My Jesus Cape is the most significant. Why? Because it’s a reminder of what Jesus tells me in Matthew 19:26--With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. And Philippians 4:13 reminds me that I can do all things through Christ. On my own I can do nothing. With my Jesus Cape, I am a superhero. I can leap tall buildings, sling webs, and smash the enemy! I proudly sport my Jesus Cape; it goes where I go (Isaiah 41:10—So do not fear, for I am with you).
So, in the end, Stella got a guy, and I got a cape. What our stories have in common is that our circumstances do not define who we are or the life we can have. Jesus Christ came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Choose Christ; it’s the only offer that comes with a cape!