The Greatness of God Part: 2
Lewis’s Faith in Fish and the King Fisherman
Lewis fished. That’s what he did. That’s who he was. That’s all he wanted. Except for maybe to shoot a bow at a 5-foot, 700-pound bull elk that he hiked through the Nevada high desert to find. Lewis fished the rivers of Montana. He loved the Beaverhead, or the “Beave” as he called it and the Yellowstone River outside of Bozeman. His home was adorned with photos of him with different colored fish of all sizes and types. His drift boat filled his garage to the point that only one car could fit during winter months. Lewis had every fishing and hunting toy you could imagine. Handmade fly rods made just for him by friends. Hunting rifles that had belonged to his family for generations. Camouflage clothing was about all you would see him wear unless it was some fuzzy Crocs on his feet, which certainly didn’t fit his lifestyle.
This man was a life-long outdoors man. His love for this type of life started early with a father and friends who, themselves, loved this lifestyle. He was taught to fish early by a grandmother who carried her fishing creel with pride as she waded through creeks and slow-moving rivers; taught to hunt by a father who loved buckshot in his pheasant cacciatore and a good deer steak. In return, his wife and children took on the same love for the outdoors. At one point, the family was featured on a tv special highlighting families who hunt together; his daughter in a backpack and his son holding his hand as they approached an elk. Living this outdoor life was something he couldn’t imagine ever quitting.
Then it happened. Christmas day, an outing with the family to play in the snow, a quick slide down the hill on a saucer. His life changed. One broken vertebra was all it took. Now, Lewis spent his days in a pain he couldn’t manage. Now, he spent his days on meds, and in a back brace. He had a long road of healing ahead of him. Lewis was a state trooper by profession. He drove the highways of Nevada each day, sitting for long amounts of time with a 17lb belt around his waist, containing his weapon and other gadgets needed for the job. The weight and the sitting were almost impossible at this point, yet he continued. During this time of trying surgery to insert pain stimulators, herbal and natural remedies, and finding nothing that helped he increased his narcotic intake to hundreds of milligrams of Oxy a week. He ended up wearing a fentanyl patch as his only pain relief. This patch provided him a few hours of relief, but when it wore off, he would cut it open to suck out what might be left. His demeaner changed and he became mean. Mean to everyone he loved and he became secretive, and nasty.
Lewis knew about the one God that could save. He knew about the Savior of this world and believed, but he just wasn’t in a spot to put his total faith in a God he couldn’t see, and wasn’t working in his life, as far as he was concerned. He lived with a wife and family fully committed to their faith and belief in God. They prayed, they studied, they worshiped. It wasn’t enough for Lewis. The addiction to alcohol and drugs had a stronghold on his heart and body and that was what he craved more than the redemptive powers of Christ. Rather than forgiveness, relief from pain, happiness in his family, he craved the narcotics more than a Savior that wasn’t visibly standing right in front of him. And then the next shoe dropped. His wife and children left. They gave him an ultimatum and walked out.
Now, he had to choose. He had to choose Christ and healing and forgiveness or he would lose everything. When Lewis was 19 years old, he cowboyed on a ranch in the middle of the Nevada dessert. He met a ranch foreman who was also a preacher. This was a man that didn’t mince words. The first thing he would ask you when you met was, “where will you spend eternity”. He asked Lewis this on a ride out to round up cows. Lewis answered with, “heaven”, but the answer was not that simple. This rancher went on to explain the saving redemptive powers of knowing and living in Christ. He shared stories and examples with Lewis, after all Lewis was a captive audience on the back of a horse. He shared how Christ had shed his blood on a cross so that Lewis could live in eternity despite how sinful he was, as long as he had faith in a Christ who loved him. This long horse ride began to ring in Lewis’ head as the empty, lonely days dragged on. He entered himself into a recovery program and began the long journey of recovering from drugs, alcohol, resentment, and hurt. He spent days vomiting and alone. His wife poured into him the grace that she was given through her faith in Christ. His children prayed with him and for him. Alone in his room one night he stared at a figure sitting in the corner on a bench. While his head spun, covered in bile and filth, he saw Christ watching him. He remembered the foreman’s words. He felt the hand of God pull him up when he had no strength left to rise from the floor. His heart and soul began to see that the life he lived was nothing if he didn’t have a faith in a Savior that promised forgiveness and a life full of hope. Hope was exactly what he needed. Hope that he could overcome, hope that he could heal, hope that he could survive. The Hope of Christ.
Fast-forward past many years, now, of him serving in church, serving the community, leading Bible studies, mentoring, leading others to Christ. July 3rd, Lewis needed to work one more day in order to make some extra money for a trip he was planning for his wife. One more day before the 4th of July holiday celebrations. Knowing he shouldn’t be on a ladder; he was supervising a crew of new painters and the job wouldn’t get done without him climbing the 15-foot ladder and helping. No one knows what happened, but without the ladder moving at all, he fell from the top onto his heel shattering it beyond recognition and fracturing 3 vertebrae as well as breaking his ankle. The heel was the worst break the doctor had ever seen. It would need to be totally reconstructed from the 100s of pieces that were now floating in his foot. It would be close to a year before he would put a foot on the ground. He would wear a turtle shell on his torso for just as long. He would need a total reconstruction of his foot and possibly complete fusion, rendering him unable to ever bend his foot. Would this accident be the jump back into addiction or would it be a total faith in Christ that he had learned to lean on?
Lewis’ biggest fear was never being able to stabilize himself in the water for a good flyfishing trip. He feared not being able to hold a bow steady or walk rocky terrain in order to shoot a bull elk. But today, still not being able to put foot to pavement, he is pursuing working with animals in the local shelter who haven’t been adopted. He is looking forward to serving in the food pantry and conducting men’s Bible studies at church. His faith is strong because of what Christ has shown him and done for him over the years. One of his first comments was, “one fracture was horrific, how am I going to handle three and a shattered foot?”. Faith, Lewis, your faith will get you to the point of complete healing and back into the river and onto the mountain. Faith, Lewis, your faith in a Christ who saves will get you walking again and taking friends on river floats to catch Montana trout. Faith, Lewis, your faith in a God who sees you, and hears you, and feels your hurt will get you to the mountain with your bow. Lewis spends each day lifting weights and taking trips around the block on his knee scooter. He visits an occasional garage sale on Saturdays in order to keep his eBay store active. He attends church on Sundays, plays hymns on his guitar at home with his wife and plans on painting his nephew’s house next summer. He is on the lowest dose of narcotics that a person with such an injury can take, being told that there is no way you can heal from this type of injury without pain medicine in order to help the body relax and heal. He didn’t want to take any narcotics. He knew he could handle this incident with Christ alone but he wasn’t able to sleep without the meds. He knows and speaks of the power of Christ in his life during this accident. Through the nerve pain and the surgery, through the skin on top of the foot tearing due to swelling, and unrelenting pressure due to the cast, he has trusted in Jesus to get him through each day. Never again will he turn to the addiction of drugs and alcohol when he is addicted to the saving grace of Christ, The King Fisherman himself!