1 Williams Place
Miracles, Blessings & New Beginnings, Part 1
  I was raised in a God-fearing, Christian home. My father was a deacon in our Baptist church, and my mother headed up the beginners Sunday school department for 37 years and trained pre-school teachers at the state association level. I was taught that Jesus died for my sins. And that was it!
For a long time, I felt there was something more to being a Christian, but I could never find out what it was. Eventually, I decided if salvation was all there was to it, I had it, I was going to heaven, so I'd go on along my merry way.  I lived the life of a prodigal son for many years. Deep down inside, I still knew there had to be something more, and I still wanted it, but I was never able to connect with anyone who could tell me what it was that I was missing in my life. I was too stubborn and ornery to shut up and listen to God. Before I could learn to listen, I had to be brokenand ground into dust. I was either going to be formed into something usable, or I would be thrown into the slag pile as useless to the Master.

My Surrender

  The beginning of my listening to God began in the summer of 2002 with a trip to South Dakota, where I had lived many years ago. I didn't really have a good reason for going back there. I just felt like I had to go. I felt like I was being drawn there. My wife has passed away earlier in the year following a brief bout with leukemia, so I went alone. On that trip, a couple of things happened that opened my ears and my mind. The first was what I call a wide-awake, riding-down-the-road-in-my-pickup-truck-with-the-radio-on vision. I didn't understand it because I had never had a wide-awake vision like that before.
  I was driving into Custer, South Dakota, where I had served in a pastoral role in a small mission church in the mid-1960s. I passed by a building off to the side of the road that I had seen many times before. I remember at one time it was a woodworking shop, but this time it was different. Although I had not stopped or left my truck, I found myself suddenly inside the building. I saw a man who appeared to be a Potter bending over and scraping up a powdery substance off the floor and placing it into a bowl. I asked Him what He was doing; it was not how I thought clay was made.
  The Potter answered and said, "I'm remaking you." I almost asked Him to repeat His statement when it dawned on me that this Potter was God. He said, "I'm taking what has been broken, trodden down and ground into dust, that is of no use in the form it is in, and I'm going to remake it, if you are willing." I had no choice but to say, "You are the Potter, and I am the clay."
  He poured a liquid substance into the powder. He placed it on the wheel and began to shape it into the form of a vessel. He said, "I'm adding My love to this vessel, so that you will know how to love more deeply. I'm adding My compassion so that you can be more compassionate. I'm taking away some of your strengths so that you will depend on Me for strength. I'm taking away some of your weaknesses so that, through My power, you and others will always know that I AM."
  I saw in the corner a pile of broken vessels that He called the slag pile. He said, "This is the destiny of those who will not do my will. I will form you into a vessel which I can use. I will fill you, and You will never be empty. You will always be full to overflowing as long as you are in my will." As I watched Him work, He began forming two spouts on the vessel He was forming, which I thought was a strange-looking pot.
  I heard His words. I saw the pile of discards, and I knew that I was being given my final opportunity to serve Him. This vision happened in a matter of moments, but I knew that I had been in the presence of God.
  It was Wednesday, and I went to prayer meeting that night at the church where I had served so long ago. It was a small Southern Baptist church, but different from any I had ever been in. There were musical instruments on the platform—drums and guitars—things one just doesn't see on the platform in a typical Baptist church in North Carolina. My first clue had been a sign above the door as I entered that read, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Welcome Here.” To say I was intrigued would be an understatement. As the praise and worship began, the presence of the Holy Spirit permeated the room. It was a feeling I had not experienced in a very long time.
  When the prayer time began, the pastor said there was a young man there who had injured his shoulder on the job and had not been able to work. Instead of just praying for the young man, the pastor told him to come to the front. He asked those who would pray for his healing to come, and he summoned me. Knowing nothing about healing, I stepped forward with the other people. The pastor anointed him with oil, and we began to pray that God would heal his shoulder.
  I prayed for the first time in my life without any doubt that the prayer would be answered. When the prayer was over, he had full use of his arm and shoulder. This was my first experience of witnessing a healing and being totally in the Spirit, and it was the beginning of my own faith for healing.
  After the experience in South Dakota, I could see that there was more to being a Christian than I had been taught, more than Jesus' saving grace on the cross for our sins. This revelation is what I had been hungering for my whole life.
  I left Custer on Thursday following that meeting and experienced another of God’s miracles during a terrible rain storm in Iowa. The darkness and rain combined made seeing the road almost impossible. I knew that I needed to turn onto a different road, but I could see nothing in front of my headlights but rain. I began talking to God, telling Him that I wasn’t sure where I was and that I couldn’t see where I needed to go, and I needed help. The exchange came up suddenly, and all I could see were the many reflectors on the road glaring in my eyes and seemingly going in every direction. I had no idea where I was to go and realized I was going too fast to make a turn. I said, “Well, God, I sure need your help.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, it was as if my truck was lifted and placed in the lane I need to be in. I know that I could not have negotiated the exit on my own because I could not see anything clearly. It felt as if there was an extra pair of hands on my steering wheel that night. I began to praise God and thank Him for keeping me from harm and keeping my truck on the road. As I thanked Him, it suddenly stopped raining, and I could see the road once again. I give God the praise and glory for another miracle in my life. This was just the beginning of a chain of miraculous events and a process of surrender.
  
The Attack

  I found that surrender does not come without a price. It seems that when a person is seeking God’s will in their life that the enemy (satan) will do everything possible to put a stop to it. Shortly after my surrender, I began to have stiffness in my shoulders, arms, hands, and legs. It became so painful that I went to my doctor to see what was wrong. I had attributed it to driving almost 3,500 miles in less than two weeks.
  I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. My health declined rapidly. I lost over 50 pounds in a matter of six to seven weeks. I was six-foot, two-inches tall, and I was down to 125 pounds—a skeleton with skin stretched over it. I could no longer button a shirt. Dressing for church took over an hour, and I could only manage pull-over clothing such as sweaters. The pain and stiffness were increasing daily. Soon, I could barely manage the stairs into my condo, and driving my truck with a clutch and shifting gears became impossible.
  I was pleading with God to relieve the pain. At this point, I had not learned how to pray in faith. I was still praying, “if it be Your will.” I had not come to the understanding that Jesus bore stripes on His back for my healing two thousand years ago when He went to the cross. I did not know that my healing was already accomplished on God’s part, and it was mine to receive it by faith.
  My daughter Erin did what she could to help, but with two small children and no car, it was an impossible situation. I had no other close family, and I was needing full-time help.
  It was at this point that I called on Nancy for help, the lady who was to become my helpmeet and life partner. Nancy and I had been high school classmates, and she had often prayed with me and encouraged me during my late wife’s illness. Almost daily, she would email Bible scriptures to me that were strengthening and faith-building. She lived in another state. I knew that most of Nancy’s work was done via the internet, so where she lived would not be an issue for her. I also knew that her business had been hit hard by 9/11, as had most businesses in her field, and that she had been forced to move in her her daughter, a less than perfect situation. Nancy was a book editor and graphic designer. We agreed that if I had DSL put in, she would come.
  She arrived at my home with the purpose of helping me manage day-to-day activities and driving. But I know that she was sent by God to be more than a caregiver for a person who was fast becoming an invalid.
  Nancy began to teach me about faith and how to pray effectively. She brought me several books on healing, and we would talk about what I had read. I would pray for wisdom and understanding to comprehend what I was reading and what Nancy was sharing with me. Morning after morning and night after night, we read the Word of God together, often stopping to discuss a point, a principle, or a word.
  There seemed to be so many unexplainable issues and roadblocks to whatever I attempted to do that we came to believe there was some demonic oppression in my life. Nancy suggested that maybe I needed to see someone who was “gifted” in deliverance. Not knowing anyone in my area, she contacted Pastor Jim Hodgin in Atlanta and explained to him what I had been going through.

Continued in Part 2
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