Good Friday, 1997:
We’d just arrived at our hotel with 180+ teenagers in tow. It was the Ohio Youth convention that we’d looked forward to for months. Chilly was the speaker & a bunch of our students were involved in a detailed illustrated sermon that very evening. Chilly had just been to the front desk to get everyones’ room keys when he pulled me aside with a weird look on his face.
“Netta, Courtney is in the hospital. She has pneumonia.”
“That’s not funny, Chilly.”
“I’m NOT kidding, Netta. She’s really, really sick.”
Through teary eyes we began searching for someone who would be willing to drive the 5 hrs back to Youngstown with me. No takers. Chilly was calm but going insane on the inside. He wanted more than anything to drive back. But he was the speaker and we decided that he would drive back right after the service.
I wasn’t waiting around. I got in my green minivan and began the drive home. Praying. Praying like never before! Thankfully, my cell phone, which hadn’t worked when we were driving the 5 hours away from little Courtney, started working (cell phones were pretty new back then). Our doctor was a trusted friend and attended the same church we did. I spoke many times to her during that drive. She gave me very little detail… and rightly so. At some point I was told that they were preparing to life-flight her to Akron Children’s Hospital. I really don’t know when I learned that part of it. I just needed to be with her!
Amazingly, the 5 hours went quickly. I’d like to say that I drove the speed limit, but I have no idea. As I sprinted into the ICU room where my baby girl was lying, I couldn’t stop the tears. Our little one year old was only wearing a diaper and was covered in tubes and wires. The most startling thing, however, was the deep cave in her chest that came with every breath. Dr. Anne Stover gently told me that she was struggling to breath and needed to be moved to Children’s hospital. She was going by ambulance. Our dear friends were standing there, too. Mary said I could ride to Akron with them.
“Thank you, Mary. But I’m going with Courtney! I just drove 5 hours. I will not leave her side!!!”
Every nurse & doctor in the place abruptly and swiftly told me, “Oh NO. That is NOT allowed!”
“YES! I’m going with her!”
Thank you, Jesus, for Dr. Stover. She knew me. She spoke softly to the others in the room and before I knew it I was riding in an ambulance, next to my seriously ill little Courtney. I held my breath as I waited for each of her’s. Praying & remaining calm, I realized that at any moment the situation could turn and I’d have to sit helplessly as the medics worked. I prayed. and Prayed. That “peace from Jesus that doesn’t make any sense to your mind, but total sense to your heart” held me tightly.
Meanwhile, Chilly and the 180+ teenagers were also praying, and calling everyone they knew. As they prepared to go on stage and minister to 4000+ teenagers, their thoughts were with Courtney. But God honored their faithfulness. Back stage, my husband was on his face, begging God for healing. Then he stood, went out & delivered a powerful & creative message of Jesus’s love. Hundreds of students committed their lives to JESUS that night! Then Chilly got in a van & two of those students drove through the night to the hospital in Akron.
In the early morning, Chilly burst into Courtney’s ICU room and told me that he’s prayed all the way there, and that God told him we would taking Courtney home! Since I was a tired mess, he sent me to the waiting room where our precious & loyal friend, Mary, hugged and encouraged me. Chilly’s next few moments were not as encouraging. The nurse, apparently surprised by his calmness, pulled him aside.
“Mr. Chilton, I don’t think you understand the seriousness of your daughter’s illness. It’ VERY, very serious. You need to prepare yourself for the worst.”
“No, on my drive here God assured me that we would take Courtney home.”
“Sir, really. You need to face the reality of the situation and be prepared for what may come.”
That was Friday.
Jump ahead to EASTER MORNING 1997:
Our oldest daughter, Mariah, attended Easter morning services with our friends who graciously kept her that weekend. Chilly and I waited in the hospital…. waited for that final word. And then it came….
“Mr. & Mrs. Chilton, you may take Courtney home! We’re amazed at how her situation has drasticlly improved.”
OH, THANK YOU, JESUS!
On Friday, near death. On EASTER… ALIVE & going HOME!!!!
Any & EVERY time I think of this miracle my heart bursts with JOY and THANKFULNESS! OH, THANK YOU, JESUS!
Your death, on that Good Friday so long ago, brought life & healing! THANK YOU, JESUS!
That was 15 years ago.
GOOD FRIDAY, 2012:
Courtney is no longer a baby. She’s a gorgeous 16 yr old who has her own beautiful relationship with Jesus. Now today, Good Friday, we’re facing another need for healing. She’s experienced strange symptoms and has had several tests already. Nothing is known yet. The next course of action requires specialist. We’re grateful for doctors, and God has always provided us with wonderful, trust-worthy medical professionals. But we’re praying for another MIRACLE! You may be facing a difficult situation, too. Jesus is BIGGER! GREATER! ABLE to do more than we can think or imagine!
Some of you who are reading this actually remember when the Easter miracle of 1997 took place. You were at that convention, or hospital, or you’re the one who drove the late-night van, or you may even the doctor. (Hi Anne.) We know that God can do anything! Let this true story remind you of God’s true story of FORGIVENESS & GRACE; of His GREATNESS! We serve a RISEN SAVIOR! Let’s tell people! Let’s live with that JOY and HOPE that only JESUS gives!