A defining moment…
I didn’t want to do it. Why? Well, it was because I had never done it before. In fact, at the time, I didn’t even like the fellow who had asked me. You see, this fellow regularly mocked my faith, usually in front of peers looking for a laugh. He was a brilliant, insightful and scathing jokester—and if you were the one on whom he fixed the scope of his humor gun, the salvo would be launched, a direct hit would be scored, and the room would explode—with derisive, caustic laughter.
I was a student in training for the ministry. I believed that the Bible accounts were and are accurate—they tell what really happened—that Moses parted the Red Sea, that Jesus walked on water, that these were literal physical and historical events.
And that fellow didn’t believe that way. Neither did most members of the faculty. And so, when I would say, “The Bible is true—those events happened” the fellow would aim his scathing jester-bolt toward my verified location, and fire a volley that would make the class (and even me) laugh until it hurt.
And it did.
In time, I just avoided the fellow.
One day, a kind, gentle lady (we'll call her Katie) told me that the fellow was in hospital—and wanted me to come and pray for him.
I said, “No! I’m not going. I don’t believe he wants me to pray. He just wants to mock again.” Katie agreed that he had been unkind and indicated she would find out if his request was genuine. So, she went to see him…
The next day, Katie told me the man was truly sorry. He felt badly about the way he had treated me as an object of ridicule. But he was sorry. He had Phlebitis, a clot was lodged in his vein and if it broke free, it would likely kill him. He wanted me to pray that his life be spared.
I told Katie, “I’m not going.” Katie got mad! Gentle, kind sweet Katie said my name out loud, and vehemently inserted my middle initial. “David R Chotka! Do you believe you should obey the Bible? How about this verse: ‘I was sick and you visited me?’”
A fell blow landed in the pit of my stomach—I was going to have to go…
Entering that room, it was plain the matter was serious. The place was filled with medical instruments—and the man was hooked up to monitors, intravenous tubes and wires. He was pale, drawn and obviously distressed. I asked a simple question: “Why do you want me to pray with you, when all that you have done up to this point is mock each time I say that the Bible is true?”
His voice was filled with anguish as he spoke haltingly, and then in torrents, “I am so sorry I did that to you, but you are the only person I know who believes that the Bible is true.” After hacking sobs, he added, “I have Phlebitis, and I could die. I don’t know anyone else who believes that God can heal… Would you please pray for me?”
I had never done anything like that before. In fact, I had never seen it done, nor did I know anyone who had been healed by God’s intervention—but the anguish in the man’s voice moved me to the depths.
With his permission I placed my hand on his left arm over the afflicted spot… And then I prayed.
The change was tangible—it was like fire filled the air we were breathing—and then that fiery Presence filled my heart, as my eyes filled with tears of compassion. Then that burning fire flowed through my arm and entered his… He told me that his body filled with “Presence… fiery, life-imparting Presence…” So overwhelmed was I that I raced out of the room, terrified that he would mock my faith again…
The next day, late afternoon, he was back on campus—it was medically verified—the Phlebitis vanished… it was gone—never to return.
He looked in both directions before he told me something important: “That prayer changed my life…”
It changed mine too.
Rev. Dr. David Chotka