Between the First and Second Pew

By Teena Myers

Rhonda’s family encountered the most difficult pastorate of her father’s ministry when she was nine years old. “My parents dealt with a lot of stress, and I felt the hurt in their lives,” said Rhonda. “One Sunday night, my dad preached a message about drawing closer to God. A sweet spirit filled the church as we prayed. I needed something more in my life, so I kneeled between the first and second pew and asked the Lord to come near me. The next thing I knew, I was speaking in tongues.” Rhonda smiled. “I knew something powerful and life-changing had happened to me that night. Not only did I need the power of God, my mother needed to know God was with them. If my mom were here, she would tell you that my baptism in the Holy Spirit was the redemption of being in that difficult pastorate.”

 “I met Larry Rock my senior year of high school. We dated for two years. When God confirmed Larry was his choice for me, I married him. God knew I needed a rock, and not just as a last name. Our first twelve years were a long, hard road.”

A few months after they married, Larry rushed Rhonda to the emergency room for hemorrhaging. Four hours of surgery later, the doctors found the source of the bleeding. When Rhonda awoke in recovery, the doctor said to her, “You have two uteruses, and they are full of tumors the size of grapefruits. As soon as you are strong enough, I’ll schedule you for a radical hysterectomy.”

“Larry and I felt children were a blessing from the Lord and refused to be denied this blessing. We prayed, and I took a step of faith. I told the doctors to remove the tumors but leave everything necessary for me to have children. Three surgeries later, he had removed all the tumors, but he didn’t know which uterus was functioning. He insisted I have a hysterectomy. I argued with him, and he gave me three months to get pregnant.”

Within three months, Rhonda was pregnant. She endured a painful pregnancy carrying her baby on the side, like a football. Nine months later, the doctors removed more tumor than baby, but Rhonda and Larry had a beautiful, healthy girl. Once again, the doctor insisted Rhonda have a hysterectomy.

“I knew I was pushing it when I refused. I had one miracle, and my faith was strong. I had two more surgeries to remove tumors and gave birth to my son in 1980. This time I agreed to have the hysterectomy, but the multiple surgeries and difficult pregnancies had compromised my immune system.”

The doctor put Rhonda on a regiment of hormone shots and medication to stabilize her body. She could not tolerate the sun, had difficulty breathing, and developed severe food allergies and acute food intolerance. Potatoes gave her migraine headaches that lasted for days. Bananas caused her throat to swell. As soon as she mastered how to eat, new allergies developed until she was allergic to thirty-nine foods, leaving her very little to eat.

“I believe God heals. The doctors told me I would never have children, and I had two miracles. I asked God to heal me many times. Six years later, I weighed eighty-nine pounds and contemplated suicide. When you seek God for something and it doesn’t happen on your timetable, it’s easy to stop trusting God. I felt abandoned and believed the lie that God didn’t love me.”

One-night Rhonda slipped out of bed to take a sleeping pill. She filled a glass with water and set it on the kitchen table, then reached for the pills. As she twisted the top off the bottle. Don’t take one, take two; you will sleep better. Rhonda took two pills from the bottle. Why not take all of them? Then you won’t feel anything anymore. Rhonda poured the pills onto the table in a little heap and reached for the bottle of pain pills. She emptied those pills on top of the sleeping pills and then opened every bottle of medication the doctors had prescribed.

“I don’t know how long I sat looking at that mountain of pills before I scooped up the pills in one hand and grabbed the glass of water with the other. My hands were shaking so bad I dropped the glass. It shattered. I was in a spiritual battle. My thoughts out of control,” said Rhonda.

Rhonda stared at the shattered glass. It’s okay, there are other ways to kill yourself. Pick up a shard of glass and cut your wrists.

Rhonda reached for a shard. This time she heard the comforting whisper of the Holy Spirit cut through her depression. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I have come that you might have life. Questions flashed in Rhonda’s mind. Do you want the children you prayed for to find your lifeless body lying in a pool of blood? Do you want the husband God gave you to raise your children alone? Is this the legacy you want to leave your family?

“God’s voice returned me to a place of sanity. I thanked him for intervening and decided to live for my children and husband, whether he healed me or not. I set my shoulder to the plow and endured another six years.”

In 1997, news of a revival in Pensacola, Florida, reached Oklahoma. Stories of salvation, healings, and deliverance abounded. Rhonda’s church chartered a bus to attend the revival, but she wasn’t interested. She had made peace with her lot in life. It no longer mattered if God healed her.

“I was still mad at God. My husband forced me to go to the revival. We watched fourteen hours of videos on the way to Pensacola. People all around me were Praising God, and that made me even madder. We arrived to stand in the hot Florida sun for hours. Then it rained.

I entered the church soaked and seething with anger. Hundreds of people lurched forward, eager to claim a seat in the main sanctuary. Larry and I were the last two allowed in before they diverted the crowds to another building to watch the service by video. The only seating left in the sanctuary was in the deaf section, and we could only sit there if I interpreted for the deaf.”

Rhonda felt empty inside but recognized the heavy presence of God’s Spirit fill the building as she signed the words to “Draw Me Close.” Halfway through the song, she was shaking so bad another interpreter replaced her. Rhonda stood between the first and second pew—the same place she asked God to draw close to her when she was nine years old.

“Larry told me I looked like a rag doll that God shook and then dropped on the floor. I remained aware of everything going on around me but unable to move. I heard God say, ‘You are full of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.’ Then I saw the last twelve years of my life like a movie. Every time I watched my family eat, and I could not. Every time I went to the bathroom and cried. Every time I cursed because I did not have the life I wanted. Then God said, ‘If you repent, I’ll forgive you and heal your body.’”

The moment Rhonda cried out in repentance, the shaking stopped. Warmth traveled like liquid heat throughout every part of her body. Four hours later, she stood to her feet, transformed by God. She felt like the little girl who had asked God to draw close when she was nine years old. The following morning, Rhonda ate pancakes for breakfast with no adverse effects but didn’t tell anyone that God had healed her.

“When Larry and I arrived home, I asked him to buy me a double cheeseburger from Sonic. He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language, but he bought me one and prayed over it before we ate. I dived into that hamburger. When I looked up, Larry was crying. He said, ‘God healed you!’ That was fourteen years ago, and I haven’t had one physical reaction to food since the day God drew me close to him again.”

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