In the comic strip Theophilus receives instructions from God
by means of a voice that speaks from inside his head.
He obeys.
He is healed.
Sketch receives a prophetic dream.

Are these stories real or imaginary?
Here's what actually happened...

Awakened by the Spirit!
by Bob West

If you're like me, you grew up under teaching that miracles and spiritual gifts ceased with the first century. I believed that doctrine very strongly even though the scriptures neither say nor even suggest that would happen. I had never seen anything that fit my description of a miracle. Others said they had, but maybe they were deceived. Like doubting Thomas, I was looking for experience, not testimonies. On July 28, 1991, a month before my 59th birthday, the Lord surprised me with such an experience.

Two years earlier, I was in the process of finishing off our basement, and standing on a ladder with both arms extended over my head, hammering a nail into the floor joist above. Suddenly the step I was standing on came loose at the front on both sides. I hit the floor on my feet, but the force jammed and twisted my spine, and my neck received a "whip lash."

Two Years of Humiliating Experiences

I guess I was so distracted by constant pain that it was several days before I realized that I was unable to have a bowel movement. Nothing doctors suggested worked. I was faced with the experience of having to use an enema each time.

This was very humiliating and not something I could talk about, not even with Sylvia. It was especially traumatic and embarrassing when we went on vacation and stayed in the homes of friends or relatives.

I became more and more concerned about this and thought about it all of the time. In May, 1991, almost two years after my accident, someone mentioned that I might have internal hemorrhoids, and suggested I see another doctor. I wasn't enthusiastic about the idea of surgery, but I knew I had to do something. The enemas were neither convenient nor healthy; nor was it something I looked forward to doing the rest of my life.

I made the decision to call a doctor for an appointment, but before I could make the call, I had what seemed to be a sudden healing. I would have called it a miracle if I had believed in such a thing. My elimination system worked perfectly daily for five days. I was overjoyed! I didn't have to call the doctor! It definitely wasn't internal hemorrhoids.

My rejoicing, however, was short-lived. My healing left as suddenly as it had appeared. Once I was certain I didn't need to see a surgeon, my problem returned.

I didn't understand it at the time, but I can look back now and realize that it was just God's way of saying, "Bob, we're not going to use a doctor for this. We're going to do it another way."

Waking Up to the Spirit

On Friday, July 26, 1991, Dan and Cheryl Clark came to our home for a weekend visit. We had met them at a Truth and Freedom Forum, but had been with them very little prior to this. They planned to meet someone in nearby Asheville for lunch on Sunday and then drive home. We planned to have breakfast and then a "worship service" at our dining table before they left.

Saturday night I had a very unusual dream. I never had a dream like that before. It was full of symbolism and featured several people I knew.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I found myself thinking about my physical problem. Surprisingly, I did not think it strange when I heard a voice inside my head above my left ear say, "Tell them about it."

The thought of talking about my problem in front of Sylvia and our guests terrified me. Perspiration began to break out on my forehead. I thought, "No. I could never do that."

"Tell them about it!" the voice responded with authority.

"No. I just can't," I thought again.

"Tell them about it!!!" the voice repeated more firmly.

"Alright... I will," I thought, as I finally submitted.

Suddenly the images of a portion of the dream I had during the night flashed before my mind's eye and made a deep impression in my memory. I got the impression that if I had not yielded to God's command, I would never have remembered that very significant dream.

A Prophetic Dream

This was the dream:

I was in an airline terminal. Art Thompson and I seemed to be going on a trip together. I didn't know the departure time, but there seemed to be an urgency. Art already had his tickets and information.

There were a lot of people and luggage, and the place was really busy. Someone at the counter started helping me, checked some of my things and then disappeared. I still had some loose items of different sizes (books, etc.) that I was trying to figure out what to do with. I needed a box to put them in so they wouldn't be so difficult to handle. The man had not come back. I was concerned that I wasn't going to get that taken care of in time to be at the right place by departure time.

While I was waiting, Art came by with a hand truck loaded with cardboard boxes and disappeared through a door. The boxes were rectangular, but somehow I knew that cylinders of some sort were inside. Art said something as he passed by, but I don't remember what he said.

Then my daughter, Robynne, and her two children appeared next to me. Now we were in an alcove, an area with solid walls on three sides. The other side was open to the lobby. I talked with Robynne and my grandchildren, Aaron and Allison, and hugged them.

When it was time to leave the alcove, I turned toward the lobby and saw a preacher friend standing in the opening with his back to the lobby. He was looking straight at us. As I went past him, I smiled and slapped him on the shoulder, and said, "Hi," and called him by name.

He didn't say a word. In fact, he didn't acknowledge that he heard me or saw me past by. Robynne and the children followed me past my friend into the lobby. When I looked back, he was still standing there, just staring into the empty alcove.

There seemed to be more to the dream, but this is all I remember.

Trust and Obey

When Sylvia, Cheryl, Dan and I were together for breakfast, I nervously said, "I think there is something I'm suppose to tell you later." This excited Cheryl and Dan. They said, "Great!" and they seemed to be looking forward to it.

I wasn't. I thought, "If you just knew what this was about, you wouldn't be excited."

After the breakfast dishes were cleared away, we all sat around the dining table with our Bibles and songbooks. I was quiet. I think I may have been perspiring. The other three were laughing and talking about something.

Finally, I said, "Let me tell you what I'm supposed to tell you and get it over with, and then we can do whatever you all want to." The mood changed to quiet anticipation as they all pulled their chairs closer to mine and gave me their complete attention.

I told them about the accident two years ago, about my physical problem, about the humiliation of it all, and the trauma of being away from home for days at a time. Not wanting them to think I was crazy, I called the voice that spoke inside my head a strong thought.

When I finished, Cheryl said, "While you were talking, a strong thought came to me. I believe we are suppose to anoint you with oil and pray for you... if that's okay with you."

I just stared at her. I was already in shock. Anointing people with oil and praying for them wasn't exactly something I was used to, and it sounded sort of strange, but I decided it wasn't any stranger than what I had just done. So, I nodded in agreement.

A Gift of Healing

Sylvia left the room and came back with some oil. Cheryl suggested that she begin the prayer and after she had prayed, each one who wanted to pray could take a turn, and then she would finish up by praying again.

Shortly after we started praying, I began to feel something unusual happening, which I now attribute to the Holy Spirit. There was pressure all around my head, neck and shoulders, like a cushion of air pressing from the outside, but also pressing from the inside of my body. Tears were flowing uncontrollably down my face. My sinus was draining through my nose like a faucet. I had a strong impulse to reach for my handkerchief, but Sylvia, Dan, and Cheryl were holding both of my hands.

We each prayed in turn. I think about all I did was tell Father God, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit that I love them.

After our prayers we talked for a while, trying to analyze what had taken place. Next we gave thanks for the Lord's Supper and ate it. Then Dan and Cheryl left for Asheville. And I went to the bathroom. The Lord had answered our prayers.

I could hardly contain my excitement until the Clarks had time to arrive back at their home in Georgia. That night I called and told them the good news. I knew that they had come from the same religious background we had, but I thought they had done this sort of thing before. But they had not. They were just as amazed as we were. This was a new experience for all of us!

As difficult as it was at the time, I am glad I obeyed the Lord, humbled myself, made myself vulnerable, and told my story. I'm glad Sylvia, Cheryl, and Dan obeyed God that day, too.

Looking back, I realize that the Lord spoke to the wife in this case, not the husband, and she (a woman) led in the prayer that God answered with my healing. This is ironic since I had strongly believed that a woman must keep silent and not pray aloud with a man present. God may have been smiling as He used this powerful demonstration to show me how wrong I had been.

Seeking an Interpretation

When I told Art and Alice Ann Thompson about my dream a couple of days later, Alice Ann said it sounded like an inspired dream and urged me to write it all down and send it to someone (I call her "Mary" in the Theophilus strips) who would pray to God for an interpretation. This was someone I had never met. I only knew that she and her husband had been members of the same One True Church as Sylvia and I until a few years ago when the power of the Spirit began to be manifested in their lives. This made the other church members uncomfortable. Alice Ann said God had given "Mary" that gift and she knew of several interpretations she had received for people.

I sent the description of my dream to "Mary" and she began to ask God about it. I was skeptical because of my religious background, so as a test I withheld the information about the cylinders inside the rectangular boxes on Art's hand truck. This seemed to be a key detail. I figured if she came back with an interpretation that mentioned the cylinders, I could be certain that it was from God. But it would be almost three years before God would give her the interpretation of my dream. In the meantime, God would give the interpretation of the cylinders directly to me.

Art and I talked about the dream, and since we had just finished a book together, we speculated that God might be saying that we would be doing other projects together. Maybe the cylinders were slide carousels, suggesting that the projects would involve audio-visual teaching materials.

But I found out a year later that God had something else in mind.

The Fleece

A couple of weeks after the Lord healed me, my son, David, and his family came to visit us for a few days. A very strong thought dropped into my mind that I should tell David about my healing. I wasn't sure how he would react to my testimony, but I expected the worse. I didn't think that David would be as thrilled about what the Lord had done as I was. It wouldn't fit his doctrine. I didn't want to tell him. If God wanted me to tell him, however, I would obey.

It occurred to me that this might not be God speaking to me at all. Maybe it was the devil. I'm sure Satan would love to see David and I alienated from one another. So I said, "If this is You, Lord; if you want me to tell David about this, please make it very clear."

Then I thought if the Lord wanted me to tell David about how He had healed me, I could do so with much more assurance and confidence if I had continued to be successful and hadn't missed a day. Sylvia and the others were going shopping the next day. David and I would be alone. That would be a good time to tell him, if that's what the Lord wanted.

I said, "Lord, if this really you, and you want me to tell David, let me have a bowel movement today. If this is from Satan, don't let me have one today."

Later that morning, I not only had to go to the bathroom, but the Lord made me sit back down three more times! Finally, I said, "Okay, Lord, I get the message! I'll tell David."

That's when I learned first-hand that God has a sense of humor.

The next morning I told David my story.

The Lord's Postscript

Another significant event took place in late September, while we were visiting in the home of Dan and Cheryl Clark.

During these first two months after my healing, I continued to be regular, but I had some difficulty. I hadn't told anyone. After two years of enemas, I was thrilled to be free from them. I learned from a doctor a few months later that enemas wash out the helpful bacteria from the colon. But I didn't know this at the time.

Sunday morning the Clarks hosted a meeting of Christians in their home to sing, pray, study the Bible together, and eat the Lord's Supper. Shortly before the Lord's Supper, Cheryl went to the kitchen to prepare it. She was gone a long time. Later we learned what happened.

Cheryl had checked a couple of days before and found she had wine on hand for those who believe God wants us to use that in the Supper, but she was low on grape juice for those who prefer that. She said that when she was shopping, she was certain that she reached for a bottle of Welch's grape juice. But as she was pouring it into glasses this morning, she noticed that it looked very dark. When she tasted it, it didn't taste like grape juice. She looked at the bottle she had poured from, and it was prune juice!

Fortunately, she still had that almost empty bottle of grape juice and rationed it out to the number of containers required.

We all had a good laugh about the prune juice later. Cheryl was so sure that she had deliberately reached for grape juice in the grocery store. How did she end up with the prune juice instead? She was puzzled. As we all look back, however, we can see that God was responsible. He knew about my difficulty and knew that we would be there that weekend.

As we were leaving for home Sunday afternoon and saying our "good-byes," Cheryl jokingly said, "Bob, do you want to take that prune juice with you?"

I thought about my new difficulty (which she knew nothing about) and said, "Sure." And I did.

When we returned home, I began drinking a small glass of prune juice every morning. Apparently it provided what I needed until my body could catch up on producing the helpful bacteria that was missing.

After a few weeks, the thought kept coming to my mind that I no longer needed the prune juice, that I should not continue to depend on it, and that I should stop drinking it. But, my routine was going so well, I didn't want to risk doing anything that would cause me to have to go back to enemas.

The thought kept coming to me, but I was afraid to skip the prune juice. Then one morning before I came out to the kitchen for my juice, I had to go to the bathroom. This gave me the confidence to skip prune juice that morning. The same thing happened the next two mornings. After that, I didn't feel a need for the prune juice anymore.

The Lord provided the prune juice when I needed it and weaned me from it when it had served its purpose. I continue to be amazed at how my heavenly Father shows His love.

The Comic Strip Version

During November, 1997, the Lord led me to use my experience with the voice, the gift of healing, and the sign as the basis for three episodes of Theophilus. They are "Awakened by the Spirit: Part 1. The Voice," "Awakened by the Spirit: Part 2. The Gift," and "Awakened by the Spirit: Part 3. The Fleece." Theophilus did not receive the dream described above. That was been reserved for Sketch's part of the story.

In the comic strip added to the web site on December 24, 1999, Sketch receives the dream. In the following episode posted December 31, Sketch describes the dream to Honey. Later in another episode, Sketch shares the interpretation of the dream with Honey.

Sketch, Honey, Theophilus, and Grace will have many of the same exciting life-changing experiences that Sylvia and I have had over the past several years. There is much more to tell. So stay tuned!

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