Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In today’s society where most things can be cured or at least repaired through human effort, sometimes we come face-to-face with an issue or situation that seems impossible. We find ourselves needing a miracle.

Almost four years ago, I found myself in one of these seemingly impossible situations. Here I was, a retired NFL middle linebacker, whose head was used as a weapon for over 15 years dating all the way back to grade school, in need of a miracle. I was in a season of life trying to suppress the reality that I might have CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which cannot be diagnosed except posthumously.

At this time CTE was making headlines, as several of my peers were either killing themselves or struggling immensely with horrific mental and emotional disorders. I found myself in the middle of a battle that I seemed to be losing. I was struggling with symptoms of CTE, including depression and suicidal thoughts, on a regular, if not weekly, occurrence.

Adding weight to my feelings of shame, guilt and helplessness was my vocation as a full-time minister representing Jesus Christ. I was proclaiming a message of salvation, healing and deliverance that I myself was not experiencing.

In the fall of 2012, I was attending a Christian conference in Denver and thoroughly enjoying a message that a minister named Bill Johnson was preaching. He ended his message and did what we Christians call an “altar call” with a specific emphasis on prayer for traumatic head injuries.

Right when he mentioned the words “traumatic head injuries,” my head began to have the simultaneous sensations of both feeling like it was on fire — and feeling as though shards of glass were being removed from my skull. I was seriously looking around for a bucket of water to dunk my head in.

Both sensations intensified as Pastor Johnson began to pray, asking God to heal us who were suffering. He then began to proclaim that Jesus Christ was setting us completely free.

As he continued to pray and proclaim, all of a sudden it was as if the peace of heaven itself had invaded my head. The brutal sensations were evicted and hope and joy took residence. I was healed instantly.

You may ask, “How do you know you were healed?”

I know I was healed because in the four years since that conference, I have not struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts. In fact, my life has been transformed radically to the point that I now boldly pray for others to be healed from all types of diagnosed brain issues and have seen some amazing results.

Prayer in my life works not because of a formula or because I am special, but rather because of Whom I am praying to. His name is Jesus Christ and He loves us so much that He allows us to experience healing and freedom through His death on the cross over 2000 years ago.

If we never have to face fear, then courage would not be needed. If we never have to face the impossible, then prayer would not be necessary. It is in the face of these impossible issues and situations that prayer becomes a doorway that allows God to invade the Earth with miracles.

Prayer gives us the opportunity to experience the reality that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The miracles He performed in the past are an available reality for the present.

Sometimes all we need to do is take a step of faith and ask.

Bryan Schwartz played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years. He and his wife, Diane, have been married for 21 years and have seven children. The couple, who live in Jacksonville, Fla., lead Antioch Breakthrough Ministries, which focuses on the training of leaders in multiple arenas of cultural influence, including politics, athletics, business, church, entertainment and family. They also serve on the board of the National Prayer Center in the District. Follow him @BryanSchwartz58.

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