My name is Richard and Iím originally from West Tennessee, but I have been in the Atlanta area now for twenty years. I am 48 years old, a single parent and handicapped. Since accepting Jesus as my savior, I have been unjustly fired from my job, had to un-adopt a violent son, had my right hip removed which put me in a wheelchair, had a liver transplant, lived on oxygen for three years, had a cardiac pacemaker implanted, declared bankruptcy, and my wife left me for another man. I thank God in all things.
I grew up in church, but as they say, growing up in church doesnít make you saved anymore than growing up in a barn makes you a cow. I believe that I was, basically a good man -- just lost. My then wife, who is a Christian, knew that she was too close to be an effective witness to me, so she prayed that God would place a spirit-filled Christian in my life on a daily basis. Subsequently, my company hired Ricky to help out and work along side me. Ricky dealt with the same people as I, but handled the stress and frustration much more effectively. The only difference seemed to be that he carried a Bible in his briefcase. His daily walk was perhaps the greatest witness that softened my heart toward the Lord. Of course there were others that influenced me, but even then, it took almost two years before I was humbled. On March 8, 1992 I invited Jesus into my life.
In the Atlanta area, the average wait time for a liver to come available for transplant was six to eight months. I was on the transplant waiting list for twenty-one months. Basically, I was dying and simply waiting for the phone to ring to stop the process. After the transplant surgery I was in the Intensive Care Unit for twenty-nine days and none of the medical personnel really thought that I would live. However, long before surgery, I knew that I would. Iíve never been big on second-guessing God, but I felt that he had something else for me; that it wasnít my time to go home, yet.
All the things that I had been through with my health, career and finances were allowed to happen to build my strength and faith for the most devastating event in my life: my wife of twenty-five years leaving me. Oh, how God was present and holding me up when I wanted to collapse! At that time God bestowed upon me perhaps my greatest blessing: my daughter chose to stay with me. Yes, Iím in a wheelchair and need assistance occasionally, but God didnít allow her to stay because she needed to take care of me. You see, I needed to take care of her. I needed a reason to get up in the morning. Also, God has sent so many people to support me, not the least of which is my son. He is grown and living in another state and living his own life. Yet, he has been tremendously supportive without taking sides. He, too, is a great blessing.
Yes, I am lonely and feel bereft from time to time, but God is here urging me to be a better father and to take seriously the awesome responsibility that He has entrusted to me. My primary focus now in serving God is in what I do at home. I am a homemaker and continue with home-schooling my beautiful daughter. How I cherish my life with God and my daughter. I look forward to my daughter growing up and growing in God and eventually leaving me. Thatís the way itís supposed to be. But God, through His Son and the presence of the Holy Spirit will be with me always. And thatís the way thatís supposed to be, too.
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