“When You Sang That Song…”
When you sang that song, that’s when I got my faith back.” These were the beautiful words that I heard just a few weeks ago.
Ella was raised in a Catholic home, and one of the foundational pillars of her life was faith in God. Although she did not know much about the Bible, she felt and believed that there was a great Father up in Heaven taking care of His children. She was educated in the field of psychology and was employed as a social worker. She loved her studies, but there was one thing she missed in the medical world—the spiritual aspect of life. Her job often led her face to face with death and suffering, yet knowing that she was not permitted to share her faith or even pray with her clients left a void in her life.
That, along with certain other experiences, led her to write a thesis on the topic. But like many others, life got tough for her personally. There is no reason to go into the details, but eventually she ended up with deep wounds—spiritual, mental and physical. Her faith was greatly challenged, as well as her life itself.
Finally she found herself in the hospital with pain on all levels. She was fed with yellow Jell-O and morphine. The choice of food was limited, and the bright yellow Jell-O was what appealed to her the most. The pain was excruciating and led to a high intake of morphine. At that time the hospital was trying out a new type of morphine-based medication, which gave her hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.
Praise the Lord for the strong will power He had given her! She was able to say,
“Enough is enough,” and decided to leave the hospital because the treatments only made her feel worse. She arranged to have one of her friends take her to a hotel after her discharge, where she planned to end her life. Only God knows what would have happened if that plan had been followed. But He had something better in store. Before she left the hospital, she was asked if she wanted the priest to pray with her. She accepted, and shortly after the prayer the word “Highwood” came into her mind. It was as if someone had put it there. She had visited Highwood once as a guest many years before, and now she was reminded of the place.
“Is there any free space at your health retreat to receive a patient directly from the hospital?” was the urgent call we received at Highwood. As Highwood was still struggling to get enough guests, the request was both welcome and easy to fulfill. Just a few hours later Ella was with us. For her, Highwood became “a little piece of heaven,” as she later expressed it.
That evening I was to lead the worship service—we call it “spiritual emphasis” to make it easier for our non-Christian guests to attend. Acouple of hours before worship the Highwood staff met for prayer meeting, and I heard Dr. Bird and our manager, Judy, sharing about the new health guest that had arrived. Judy had been giving her a massage, and Ella had started to pour out her heart to her. This helped me to decide the topic for my worship talk: “One Step at a Time.” After telling a story from the Norwegian mountains about a man immobilized by fear and not knowing how to reach his destination, I sang a song that I had composed at a time when I was in deep mental pain. The story and the song touched her heart deeply, and it was after this that she later said: “When you sang that song, that’s when I got my faith back.”
During her five days at Highwood she experienced a series of ups and downs, but also many miracles. God gave the team insight to give her the treatments and nourishment that helped her physically while the Spirit of God worked with her wounded mental and spiritual health. The same lady that was nearly carried into the Highwood Health Retreat was walking out with a new determination only five days later. She was strong enough to go for normal walks, and she had told Jesus that she surrendered all to Him.
After she left us we continued to keep in touch, and just a few days ago Judy and I went to visit her in her home one Friday night. She invited us to stay overnight. We had a beautiful evening—sharing, reading the Bible and praying together. We told her that we wanted to visit a local Seventh-day Adventist church the next day, and she asked if she could join us! The Sabbath school and the divine service seemed prepared just for her. The people were friendly and invited her to attend Friday fellowship meetings in a member’s home, and she was so happy for the invitation. God has started a good work in her, and His aim is to finish it. (Philippians 1:6) What a blessing and an honor it is to be used as an instrument in His hand!
By Stine Gro Struksnæs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.