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God Is Alive

Steve Ranney, Pastor

 

The great news of Easter is that Christ not only rose from the dead, but that HE is alive and at work in our world today.  On April 17, during worship, Patty Sanchez shared with us the story of how Christ is alive in her life today.  For those that were not able to be in worship on that day, I would like to share her story with you in her own words:

 

“It was the summer of 2004. I was only 35 years old. I had a very active life, working full time, going to college, and taking care of my family.  All of the sudden, I started feeling some pain in my right arm.  It hurt so much that I could barely lift it up.  Then, it was my left arm, then my right leg, and so on.  My entire body was very achy and swollen.  I also had a terrible rash all over my body. I couldn’t breathe because my lungs were swollen. The worst part was that I couldn’t take any medication as my liver was swollen as well.  I was referred to a rheumatologist who thought I had arthritis.  Then, I went to see a gastroenterologist because they thought I had hepatitis.  They were all wrong!

 

I kept bouncing from one specialist to another, but nobody knew what was wrong with me.  In the meantime, I kept getting worse and worse to the point where I couldn’t walk or take care of myself.  My daughter, who was only 18 months old, had to brush my hair and help me to get dressed up.  At night, my husband had to rotate my body and make sure I was still breathing.  I had already lost all hope.  I was ready to die!

 

Then, a coworker told me about this very brilliant rheumatologist, Doctor Mark Jason, located in Laguna Hills. Even though he wasn’t within my network, I decided to give it a try.  As soon as my husband and I entered the office (my husband was carrying me as I couldn’t walk), we noticed a very cheerful man sitting in the waiting room.  He greeted me and asked me, “What is wrong with you, young lady?” I got very upset.  (When you go through so much pain and suffering you get mad at the entire world.)  You don’t want people to even look at you.  You get bitter!  I was very rude and answered, “That’s the problem, nobody knows what’s wrong with me.”  He responded very cheerfully, “Don’t worry, this is a very good doctor; within six days you’ll be walking.”  That upset me even more.  I felt like he had slapped me on the face.  I had been sick for six excruciating months, I couldn’t even move, and now, he was telling me that I would be walking within six days. I didn’t even bother to respond. 

 

The first thing the doctor asked as soon as we entered the room was how we would be paying for my treatment.  My husband said “cash” as the doctor was out of our insurance network. The doctor laughed and responded, “You have no idea what you’re talking about.  We are talking about thousands and thousands of dollars.”  He looked at me and said, “I think you have lupus, an autoimmune condition where your auto immune system, instead of protecting your body, it attacks it.  If we don’t find out what your problem is, you are not going to last more than one month.”  He continued, “Go home, call the insurance and explain the situation.  In the meantime, I will call the hospital to reserve a room for you.  You’ll be staying in the hospital and you won’t leave until we find out what’s wrong with you.”

 

I called the insurance, but they said that they were not allowed to make any changes at the end of the month, so I had to wait a few weeks.  I told them what the doctor had said and also mentioned that I had two children, one was only a toddler, and they needed their mom.  So, if something happened to me, they would be responsible.  The insurance clerk got nervous and put me on hold while she talked to her supervisor.  She came back and told me that they would be making an exception, so there was a room waiting for me at Mission Hospital.

 

When I was in the hospital, I never felt alone, even though I don’t have any relatives in this country, and my husband had to go to work.  There were always volunteers in my room praying for me.  On the fifth day, I was discharged from the hospital and guess what?  I was walking!  My husband was helping me, but I was walking. A month later, I went for a follow-up visit.  As soon as I walked into the office, the doctor told me, “I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.  I remember the first time you came to see me.  You were a wreck! Look at you now. You are a like a brand new person.”  The doctor is a pianist, so he had a piano in his office.  He said, “I wrote a song for you; the title is ‘The Awakening.’  God has given you a second chance!”  He played the song, and I got very emotional.

 

Here I am, almost 12 years later.  Now, I realize that during this excruciating time of my life, I was never alone.  God was with me all the time!  God was with me when the volunteers where praying for me at the hospital; God was with me when the man sitting outside the doctor’s office told me that I was going to be walking within five days; God was with me when the doctor was playing “The Awakening“ song for me.

 

I pray that you can also feel the presence of God in your life when you are facing difficult times in your life. When you feel that your entire world is collapsing, remember that you are not alone!  God is with you because God is not dead.  God is risen!  Hallelujah!”

 

Thank you Patty, for sharing your Easter story with us.  Thanks be to God.

 


 

Meet Steve Ranney

 

As we welcome our new Pastor, Steve Ranney, here is a little information to help us get to know him better:

 

  • Married to Kim Skilling who is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and is celebrating 30 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

  • Two sons and a daughter and two grandchildren.

  • B.A. in Ministry from Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota.

  • Master of Divinity from Denver Seminary.

  • Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Seminary.

  • Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991.

  • Associate Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church of Centennial, Colorado, 1991–2006.

  • Pastor/Head of Staff of St. Mark Presbyterian Church of Ballwin, Missouri, 2006–2015.

  • Steve seeks to lead both by example and by challenging people to use the gifts that God has given them for the building up of the body of Christ.  Thus, Steve's main focus is helping each person grow up in their relationship with God so that God will be able to bless others through them.

 

 

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