In the nightstand next to my bedside is a plastic baggie. Folded neatly inside is a small remnant of what remains of a little red shirt. The shirt was an integral part of two events that changed my life profoundly. One event was by tragedy, and the other by the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Before this article is completed I hope to use that little red shirt to answer the following question for you, “What do you do with the things that the Holy Ghost hasn’t fixed?”
I must begin by exposing my soul to you the reader. My life has been deeply imprinted by a number of personal tragedies, only several of which I will mention herein. At the age of 19 months I was admitted to the hospital after a lengthy illness. The night I was admitted I died. My father fell across my bed weeping and calling upon the name of the Lord. God heard His prayer and restored life into my body, but I remained curled up in a fetal position, dark circles under my eyes, and the eyes were rolled back so that only the white was showing. My hands and feet were drawn and curled up. I lost 8 ½ pounds of body weight in a little over five hours! The transformation was remarkable and horrendous. My mother went home to rest that night because she was expecting her next child, leaving my father at my bedside. My death and transformation occurred after her departure. She could not recognize me when she returned to the hospital after going home for only a few hours. She actually thought I was someone else’s baby!
I spent much of that night in a bathtub full of ice because of the extreme fever that was destroying my brain by the minute. The next morning I was taken into surgery where four surgeons operated on me. The report to my parents was not good. My appendix had ruptured 3-4 days prior to the surgery. They were dislocated which required more extensive cutting. My body cavity, stomach, and intestines were filled with gangrene. My intestines were completely blocked by a growth necessitating the removal of much of my intestines. Eventually they gave up and simply sewed me together. The surgeons told my parents there was nothing they could do to help me, and that it was best for me to die. Their diagnosis was that my brain was completely devastated, I was a vegetable, and I never would recover. Even if I did, my organs would not work and body functions could not happen properly. The Catholic hospital administered last rights to me. I would soon just be another statistic.
My parents had recently received the Holy Ghost. They and many others were in fervent prayer and fasting for me. Every breath was possibly my last, but death did not come. I lay comatose for days. My nourishment came only from intravenous feeding through my ankles. Eventually the veins collapsed and I could no longer be fed that way. There was no answer as to why I would not die. I was given two blood transfusions of the wrong type (which can normally kill even a healthy person). The deck and odds were stacked against me.
After several weeks of mere existence the surgeons requested to operate on me again. They said, “We can’t help the baby and he will die in surgery. Perhaps by operating we can learn something that might help us save someone else’s baby in the future.” As the decision was pondered a prayer meeting was called. My mother lifted me before the Lord and said, “Lord he is yours. I thank you for lending him to me for 19 months. If you take Him, I praise you. If you heal him, I praise you and dedicate Him to you. Don’t let him suffer anymore. He is in your hands and he will not be operated on again.”
Mother fell asleep that night completely exhausted. When she awoke I looked normal. Every stitch on and in my body was in my diaper! Nothing else but a ball of pure, white stitches was in my diaper. That night I was completely healed!
I have always known I was spared for a purpose.
Tragedy continued to stalk my life. The little red shirt first appeared in my life when at the age of 5 years I and my little red shirt were doused with gasoline which when ignited severely burned much of my body. My burns were beyond third degree. Even my face and hair were burned, but those were first and second degree burns and eventually went away. I was in acute shock, and upon arrival at the hospital there was a state of emergency and in the rush I was sedated by two separate nurses attempting to bring me out of shock. The result was overdose. Again I entered the doorway of death, and again prayer and mercy restored life to my body. After dozens of horrifying surgeries, skin grafts, and unimaginable suffering I was released from the hospital. I was bent over and horribly scarred, but alive. It began a very long road to recovery.
Mother burned her beautiful hands that day as she tore my burning clothes off of me, including the little red shirt.
Dad had started a church and was doing so well, but he was greatly wronged by fellow ministers, became discouraged, and resigned. This led to backsliding. Soon afterward my parents divorced. In respect of my family I will not describe the years of heartbreak and tragic events, but they were very sad, and produced suffering for everyone. The emotional wounds and damage done can never be overstated.
I became an exceptional athlete and sprinter, but could play very few sports because of scar tissue that scraped easily. Life was bittersweet. As an adult I turned my anger, nervousness, and extreme temper to determination. I became a workaholic and perfectionist. In spite of my fears and scars, I married the girl of my dreams and we eventually produced three children.
Monica and I both received the Holy Ghost on January 31, 1980. We were baptized two days later. Our experience was incredible and powerful. We began serving God with all of our hearts and passions. Life was good and we were the model couple. I held a tremendous job at an engineering firm. We had a beautiful home, fine cars, and two beautiful little children. I thought I was fine, but God had a miracle in store for me.
It occurred on a day when Monica and I were sitting on a bedside at my mother’s house and looking at old family photos and memorabilia from a box mother had taken from the closet. We were laughing and having a great time. Our kids were playing on the floor. As I pulled a baggie out of the box I screamed, threw it across the room, and fell instantly to the floor! I began to travail uncontrollably. My wife was with me, praying, loving, and comforting me.
What happened? A flashback, a trigger occurred as I pulled that baggie out. Inside it was the remnant of the little red shirt I was wearing the day I was almost burned to death. Mother had saved what was left, eventually sealing it in the baggie I now held in my hands. Somehow in my subconscious mind I recognized it, and suddenly all of the tragedy and hell of a lifetime was upon me with full velocity. I did not know those feelings and emotions existed inside me! Hey, after all I had the Holy Ghost.
Thus the second great event of my life occurred that involved that little red shirt. Please understand I was under an illusion that just because I was born again everything was just fine. I was wrong. God loved me too much to leave me the way I was when He saved me. He used a trigger, a little red shirt, to reveal to me the deep internal wounds and damage that I had never allowed Him to heal and restore, even since my new birth experience. I did not even know they existed! They were lying dormant within me, only exposing themselves every now and then through my actions and reactions. But that day on the floor a revelation came to me as I travailed. God knows me better than I do. If I will trust Him and allow Him into my mind, He will restore me as whole from any damage done in my past. The salvation experience only opens the door to the power of what God wants to do in our lives.
I was so shocked that those emotions and feelings were hidden within that I began a personal inventory to see what else was wrong. One by one emotional wounds came to the surface that I was then able to allow the Holy Ghost to repair within me. The Holy Ghost will lead and guide you into all truth if you will allow it – even deep things that we have swept under the carpet of our memory. I became a laborer with God for my own restoration.
The first little red shirt event scarred and hurt me. The second event restored me to wholeness.
I now understand that the reason we have so many problems with people who have been born-again is because most of them merely moved forward after their conversion experience. However, like the one leper in the scriptures, we all eventually need to come back before Jesus and allow Him to finish the work He started. Salvation doesn’t equate to wholeness – but it can lead you there.
I have good news for you. God is willing to do the incredible. He will go through your mind and heal and restore the damage done by the past, but only if you so desire. The traumas and tragedies of your life cannot destroy you or embitter you if you will trust Jesus enough to bring them before Him openly and allow Him to complete the work He has already begun. Then you will discover a great truth – what the enemy meant for harm the Lord will use for the good. Any experience on the potter’s wheel will only make you better if you are willing to let the master place His hands upon you and reshape the flaws in your vessel.
Take my life’s story as an encouragement and example for you to follow. Tragedy sought to destroy me and take my life from me. Twice I died and was raised from the dead. Many things occurred that are not included in this article. Yes, bad things really do happen to good people.
It is not what happens to you that matters – but it is how you respond to your situations that makes all the difference. All things truly work together for good.
I didn’t see that little red shirt again for about 16 years. Then at a family gathering my mother brought the box of memorabilia into the great room where we were all gathered. My heart was in my throat because I knew what was in that box. I remembered what happened the last time I opened it. When it finally came my turn to look into the box of old family photos, school crafts, and such, I bypassed everything else and went straight for the baggie. This time I did what I could not do so many years before. I opened the baggie, pulled out the little red shirt, and unfolded it. The dust of my molten flesh fell upon my clothes, but the peace of God was upon me. With tears I lifted it before the Lord. My family members were stunned to tears and silence when they realized what it was in my hands. As I lifted it up I began to praise the Lord, saying loudly to the little red shirt and all that it represented, “You don’t hurt me anymore. I thank God for you, because God used you to reform me, restore me, and make me whole. I am a better man because of you”.
I have been delivered! Grief, sorrow, and pain no longer abide in me. I have dominion through the Name, Word, and Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I keep it near me now, a constant reminder of the many things the Lord has brought me through. I’ve taken it to the pulpit and used it as an object lesson when preaching messages of deliverance. I am convinced that the lessons learned on the anvil of my life are the very reason I have witnessed so many thousands of miracles and healings in my ministry. I have a purpose. The mind that was once destroyed was healed, and God has honored my requests for revelation, deep understanding of principles, and an anointed mind to propel the church forward. God has been so good to me.
So here’s the question again; what do you do with the things the Holy Ghost hasn’t fixed?
Make a firm decision now to not minimize the Holy Ghost’s power in your life. Go beyond forgiveness and remission of sins and press forward to complete restoration. Trust Jesus enough to give Him everything, even things you may not realize that even exist within you. As you seek Him to reveal the hidden things to you; things you may have forgotten, suppressed or denied; He will make them abundantly clear. He will bring things to your understanding so that He may do that perfect work of completion within you. He truly is the revealer of secrets and the thoughts and intents of the heart. He is the Counselor and the Comforter. You will know when the work is complete for He will reveal it unto you as only He can.
I encourage you to seek and find your life’s equivalent to my little red shirt. It may be the most difficult and painful journey of your lifetime, but you will be so glad you decided to take it. Only then will your initial infilling experience come full circle. God will make you better than you were when He saved you.
Dr. Fred Childs holds a MBA in Business Administration and a Ph.D. in Leadership Administration. He is a pastor, author, leading church and business consultant, and leadership authority.