As I sit in my office contemplating the last year, I am overwhelmed by a profound sense of thanksgiving. At this time a year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from open-heart surgery.
As many of you may (or may not) know, a year ago things were very different in my life. After more than a week of exhibiting some very serious symptoms, my family, staff and friends began voicing their concerns. My son, Ronnie Jr., had been out of the country preaching, and while he was away, he had a heavy burden for me. He and his host pastor prayed and interceded for my life, and upon returning home, he tried to convince me to go see my doctor.
Reluctantly, I did so, and I was diagnosed with “severe sleep apnea.” However, that diagnosis did not quell the stirring of the Spirit for those concerned about me.
On that Friday, I was taken to the emergency room, but everything was deemed normal, and they sent me home. Now, anyone who knows anything about spiritual warfare has heard of “generational curses” or “generational demons.” I believe that generational demons can play a strong role in our lives if we fail to recognize their patterns and method of working.
Looking back on my case, this is very obvious. My own father was sent to the emergency room twice the week he died. Both times he was sent home, being told he was OK. A couple of days later, he was gone—at the age of 69.
After being released from the ER, Ronnie and I had a couple of discussions. He was still concerned, but I tried to assuage his fears. I had speaking appointments, a church to shepherd and much to do. Going in for medical tests—being poked and prodded by doctors and nurses—just did not fit into my schedule. In frustration, Ronnie contacted a dear friend of mine by the name of Ron. He asked Ron to talk to me and try to convince me to go have some tests done.
On Sunday, April 15, Ron spoke to me and convinced me to change my plans. I was actually scheduled to leave the next day for Louisiana to speak in the very area where my ministry began. After hearing the concerns of my best friend, my son and others, I decided to cancel my trip and go for the tests. On Tuesday, Ron picked me up and took me to the hospital for a stress test.
I failed miserably.
As the providence of God would have it, when I failed the stress test, my cardiologist just happened to be there. Two nurses in the room who “just happened to be Christians” immediately laid hands on me and began to pray. The doctor immediately took preventive measures, admitted me and sent me for an arteriogram. It was at this point they discovered that I had extensive blockages—what doctors term “the Widow Maker.” Among other blockages, I had a 4cm blockage (100 percent) in my main artery.
Now, what makes my trip to Louisiana significant is that I was going to the very place (the 9th Ward) where my ministry began … a place and time of poverty, struggle and depression for my family. I firmly believe the enemy was taking me back there to kill me, for had I not had those tests, the doctors believe I would have been dead within hours.
I was put into intensive care, and they proceeded with surgery the next morning. I came through the bypass surgery and was put into recovery. It was during my time in recovery that I had a sensation that I was choking, and I heard the voice of the devil tell me, “I’m going to kill you!” But before fear even had a chance to take hold, I heard the voice of an angel say, “You’re a liar!”
It was then that I saw a golden blanket descend on me. I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that this blanket was my prayer cover. I went back to sleep and woke up to the beautiful face of my wife telling me everything was OK and that I had made it through.
They moved me back to the intensive care unit, where I noticed one nurse in particular who seemed to be there a lot, almost like a guardian angel. She was working a double shift, and I came to learn that her father had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus toward the end of his life through the ministry of Abba’s House With Pastor Ron Phillips. This kind nurse said that the Lord told her to take care of me, and even though I was hooked up to wires and tubes, I had the opportunity to pray with her.
Over the next few days, God gave me the opportunity to rediscover the joy of the simple things in life—things like getting to sit up in a chair, walk down the hallway or carry on a conversation with a friend. There is so much in life we take for granted.
My experience was a wake-up call. While I have made a living and lifetime out of feeding my mind and spirit on the things of God, I failed to take very good care of the “earthly temple” that God entrusted to my care. However, I have learned that living a “life more abundantly” is all-inclusive—body, mind and spirit.
It’s now May 2013, and I feel very thankful to be alive. I am thankful for the life God has given me and for the second chance I have to be the best husband, father, grandfather, friend and pastor that I can be. I am thankful for morning cups of coffee, for looking at the sunrise and for making the most of the life God has blessed me with.
God has slowed me down a little, but not in a bad way. He has just made me more observant, has taught me to listen more to others and to care about what affects them. He has taught me to look for the lonely and hurting and to take the time to hear what they are saying, not just be an advice-giver.
I am looking forward to many more years serving the King, listening to His voice and sharing His Good News with anyone with an ear to hear.
For more than 30 years, Ron Phillips has been the pastor of Abba’s House (formerly Central Baptist Church) in Hixson, Tenn. As a lifelong Southern Baptist, a dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit in 1989 changed his life and ministry to one that grasps who we really are in Christ and the gifts and fullness that are available to us through a Spirit-filled life. His television program, Abba's House With Pastor Ron Phillips, blends solid biblical exposition with a simplicity anyone can understand. In addition, for 14 years, Phillips hosted the daily 15-minute radio program CenterPoint across the nation via radio and throughout the world via the Internet. He has now authored more than 20 books, including Awakened by the Spirit, Our Invisible Allies, Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare, The Foundations on the Holy Spirit series and his latest release from Charisma House, A God-Sized Future.
For the original article, visit theheartofabba.com.