In This Issue...
- A Theology of Humor by Cheryl Taylor
- Ministering With Humor by Stephanie Nance
- Christian Leaders Having Fun? by Pam Morton with Kathy Jingling
- The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter by Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
Faith to Believe Beyond What the Eye Can See
The Betty Baxter Story, as told by Betty Baxter
Note: Betty Baxter had been a bedridden cripple for 14 years, yet throughout this time she had faith that Jesus Christ would heal her. Her story is an inspiration to all who are faithfully waiting to see the answer to their prayers.
As far back as I can remember I wasn’t normal like other boys and girls. My body was twisted and crippled and deformed. I was born with a severe curve in my spine. The x-rays showed that the bones were twisted and matted together; therefore my nervous system was wrecked. I lived in constant pain. The doctors kept me on drugs so I could endure the pain.
"Well, Mr. Baxter," the doctor said, "There is nothing medical science can do. We can never hope to untangle that mass of bones in Betty’s body. Take her home and let her be as happy as possible.” I was 11 years old at that time and had no idea that the doctor was sending me home to die. I looked at him, "Yes, Doctor, but someday God will heal my body. I will be well and strong then."
They took me home where the doctor said I would soon die. I grew worse. The pain I had suffered before was nothing compared to what I began to feel after I returned home. I would go blind; I would become deaf; and I would become unable to speak. My tongue would swell, then would be paralyzed. It seemed I was caught; some awful power was trying to destroy me. But each day Mom would pray with me and tell me God was able to heal my body.
Many people have said, "Betty, why didn’t God heal you when you were a little child and had such great faith?” I don’t know. God’s ways are not my ways. God’s ways are best. There is one thing I do know—during those awful years of loneliness and pain I really got to know Jesus. He lives in the valley, my friend. He is the Lily of the Valley and you will find Him there if you look for Him. Standing in the shadows you will see Jesus, because He has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
My body was so deformed that when my daddy would stand me up, I stood only as high as my little four-year- old brother. Large knots had grown on my spine, the first one at the base of my neck, then one right after the other to the base of my spine. My arms were paralyzed from my shoulders to my wrists. I could only move my fingers. My head was twisted and turned down on my chest. When I drank water I had to drink from a tube because I couldn’t raise my head. Yet in this condition, Jesus whispered, "Remember child, I will never leave you nor forsake you."
As the years went by I gave up all hope of ever being made well by a doctor. Finally my dad came in and took my crippled body in his arms and sat on the edge of his bed. He looked at me with big tears splashing down his rugged face. He said, "Honey, you don’t know, you don’t have the least idea what money is, but I have given up everything. I have spent all I have and more in order to get you well. Betty, your daddy has gone as far as he can go. There isn’t any hope anymore." He took out his handkerchief and wiped his face dry. Then looking at me he said, "I don’t believe Jesus will let you suffer much longer. He is going to take you to that place called heaven and when you get inside, stand there and watch everyone that enters. Someday you will see daddy coming through those gates. It won’t be long. The doctors say it will be soon."
One day just before the sun went down, I was struck with such unbearable pain that I lapsed into unconsciousness. Three hours later my mother noticed my breathing was too slow and I scarcely had any pulse. She called the doctor. After an examination, he said, "This is the end. She will never regain consciousness." I lay unconscious for four days and nights. The family was called in and they took up the death watch.
The fifth morning I remember opening my eyes. Mom leaned over the bed and put her cool hand on my burning forehead. I felt as if I were burning up inside. Knife-like pains were shooting through my spine. "Betty, it’s Mother, don’t you know me?" I couldn’t speak but smiled at her. She raised her hands toward heaven and began praising God for answering her prayers and giving me back to her.
I slowly regained consciousness. Then the doctor said I would not last through the summer months. Early summer came. Everyone in Martin County, Minnesota, knew the little Baxter girl was dying. Saints and sinners alike came to my bedside, but most of the time I was unconscious. When I was conscious they would pat me on the shoulder, say a kind word, and leave.
But during my moments of consciousness, I never gave up hope. I couldn’t speak out loud, but in my heart I knew Jesus had told me that "as soon as fall comes you’ll have healing." I never doubted, but kept believing that He was going to heal me in the fall.
That summer on the 14th day of August, my speech returned. I hadn’t spoken for weeks. I said, "Mom, what day is today?" She said, "The 14th day of August." My daddy came in at noon. I said, "Daddy, where’s the big chair? Please put the pillows in it and set me in the big chair." The only way I could sit in the chair was with my head resting on my knees and my arms hanging down at my sides. I said, "Daddy, when you go out, close the door. Tell Mom not to come in for awhile. I want to be alone." I heard my daddy sob as he left the room and he didn’t ask any questions. He knew why I wanted to be alone. I had an appointment with the King.
I heard Dad click the door. I began to cry and sob. I said, “Jesus, You promised You would have healing for me in the fall. I asked Mom this morning what day it was and she said the 14th day of August. Jesus, I guess You don’t count this fall yet because it’s still awful hot, but Lord I wonder if just for this one year You could call this fall and come and heal me? The pain is so bad, Jesus. I have gone as far as I can go. I can’t stand the pain any longer. I wonder Lord if You will call this fall and come and heal me?”
I listened. Heaven was quiet. But I didn’t give up. I pray differently than some people, I guess. If I don’t hear from heaven, I pray until Jesus answers. I listened a while longer. When there was no answer, I began to cry again. I said, “Lord, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll make a bargain. Now Jesus, listen to me. I’m going to bargain with you. Jesus. If you will only heal me and make me well inside and outside, I’ll go out and preach every night until I’m 90 years old if that’s what You want. Lord, I’ll do more than that. If You will heal me so I can walk and use my arms and be strong and normal, I’ll give You my whole life. It will no longer belong to Betty Baxter—it will be Yours and Yours alone.”
I listened after I made these vows. This time I was rewarded. I heard the voice of Jesus speaking audibly to me. He spoke these words: “I am going to heal you completely on August 24th, Sunday afternoon, at 3 o’clock.” A thrill of hope and expectancy swept through my entire body and soul. God told me the day and the hour!
The first thought that came to me was, “Won’t Mom be glad when I tell her? Just think how happy she will be when I tell her I know the day and the hour.” Then Jesus spoke again and said to me, “Now, don’t tell this until my time comes.” I thought, I’ve never kept anything from my mother. How will I keep this from her?
After Jesus told me this I felt like a new person. I didn’t mind the sharp pains anymore or the violent throbbing of my enlarged heart. The 24th day of August would soon come and I would have relief. I heard the door open and Mom walked in. She knelt down on the rug and looked up in my face. I wanted to tell her what Jesus had told me. The hardest thing I ever did was to keep from telling her.
Later I looked at Mom. I thought, Something has happened to Mom, She looks so pretty and young today. Then I thought the reason she looked so different was that I knew the secret about my healing next Sunday. I looked at her again, and was convinced more than ever that something had happened to her. Her eyes had never shone like that before. Then all at once she leaned over me, pushed the hair back from my forehead and said, “Honey do you know when the Lord is going to heal you?” Oh, I knew but I wasn’t supposed to tell. I couldn’t say no for I would not be telling the truth. So I said, “When?” Mom smiled and said, “August 24th, Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock.” I said, “Mom, how did you know? She replied, “The same God that talks to you talks to me.”
Many people have asked how my mother knew the day I would be healed. While the Lord was talking to me, the rest of the family was in the dining room eating. My mother had taken a fork full of food, and as she was about to put it into her mouth, it dropped back on the plate with a clatter. Then she heard the inner voice of God speak and say, “I have heard your prayers, and I am going to reward you for your faithfulness. I am going to heal Betty, August 24th, Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock. Betty knows the same thing, as I have already told her.” So when Mom came into the room she already knew that the Lord had told me the day and hour that I would be healed.
I said, “Mom, listen to me. I haven’t had a dress on or shoes on my feet since I was a little girl. I have worn these nightclothes all these years. Mom, after Jesus heals me Sunday afternoon, I’m going to church Sunday night. The stores are closed on Sunday. Mom, if you really believe Jesus is going to heal me, will you go to Fairmont this afternoon and get me some new clothes? Will you, Mom?” My mother showed her faith by her works. “Sure, I will go into town today and get you some clothes so you can wear them Sunday night,” she said.
My mother brought the dress and shoes home and showed them to me. I thought the dress was the most beautiful I had ever seen. The shoes were patent leather and they were pretty. (Packed among my treasures, in the bottom of an old chest, in my mother’s home up in Iowa there lies that old blue dress right now. After my healing, I wore it until I got a hole in it where I had rubbed against the pulpit when I preached.)
When people came to see me, I would say, “Mom, get my dress and shoes out and let my friends see them.” They would look at me, then at the dress and shoes, then at my mother. I knew they thought strange of me, but I knew exactly what was going to happen the 24th day of August. I told a neighbor of ours who was not a Christian, that if he wanted to see me tall and straight, to be at our house Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock because Jesus is going to come and heal me.
Sunday morning came. My mother invited a few friends, saying, “Be sure and get here about 2:30 because 3 o’clock is the hour. They came at 2 o’clock. They said, “Mrs. Baxter, we are early, but we know something is going to happen, and we don’t want to miss it.” That was the atmosphere around me when I was healed. The newspaper reporters were there, too, from the Fairmont (Minnesota) Daily Sentinel.
At 15 minutes before 3 o’clock my mother carried me in and set my twisted body in the chair and propped me up with pillows. I saw the people as they knelt on the floor around my chair. I saw my brother, four years old. He knelt down by me, looked up and said, “Sis, it’s not very long now until you will be taller than me.”
At 10 minutes before 3 o’clock my mother asked me what I wanted them to do. I said, “Mom, start praying. I want to be praying when Jesus comes.” I heard her sobbing and praying for Jesus to keep His promise and come and heal my body. As we prayed, I became lost in the spirit, and then Jesus came slowly toward me with His arms outstretched. I noticed the ugly prints of the nails in His hands. The closer He got to me the better I felt. When He came really close I began to feel very small and unworthy. I wasn’t anything but a little forgotten girl who was deformed and crippled. Then all at once He smiled at me and I wasn’t afraid anymore. He was my Jesus.
Then I felt his hand on the very center of my spine on one of the large knots. All at once a hot feeling, as hot as fire, like an electrical current, surged through my body. I was healed inside and outside. Jesus did for me in a few moments what the doctors on this earth could not do. The Great Physician did it and He did it perfectly.
I jumped out of the chair, ran to my mother and said, “Mom, feel, are the knots gone?” She felt up and down my spine and said, “Yes, they are gone!” I heard the bones crack and pop. “Betty, you’re healed! You’re healed! Praise Him for it!” Tears rolled down my cheeks. My body felt light all over because I didn’t have any pain. I felt tall because I had been bent almost double with my head on my chest, but now the knots were gone and my spine was straight. I raised my arms and pinched one of them. My arms had feeling. They weren’t paralyzed anymore.
Then I looked and saw my younger brother standing in front of the chair. Big tears were rolling down his little cheeks. Looking up at me I heard him say, “I saw Sis jump out of the big chair. I saw Jesus heal Sis.” I picked up the chair, raised it above my head and said, “See what the God I serve can do!”