The Redeemed Man

Finding Success in the Struggle - Guest: Gary Miracle

April 21, 2022 Paul Amos Season 2 Episode 4
The Redeemed Man
Finding Success in the Struggle - Guest: Gary Miracle
Show Notes Transcript

Gary Miracle joins The Redeemed Man podcast. Gary Miracle,  a Tampa-area husband and father of four for whom a catastrophic blood infection cost all four of his limbs in early 2020. Yet his first thought upon learning the news wasn’t anger or despair, but rather the wisdom of the Book of Job—”The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” “I remember thinking that in my life, it was just my taking-away time. I can’t be thankful all my life for the things He’s given me and then be mad at Him for the things He’s taken away,” Miracle says.

Today, armed with a wheelchair and prosthetics, Miracle does everything from household chores to coaching his kids’ sports teams and running two-mile races. And he hopes his story will inspire other people to find hope and healing through Christ. “I just want to preach from the rooftops about God’s grace, how good God is, and how He doesn’t make mistakes.”

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The Redeemed is an organization giving men from all backgrounds a supportive, judgment-free environment, grounded in Christian love without demanding participation in any faith tradition, where they can open up about their challenges, worries, and failures—and celebrate their triumphs over those struggles.


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Welcome and Guest Introduction 

 

Evening and welcome. My name is Paul Amos, and I'm the founder of The Redeemed. The Redeemed is a community of men who come together from all aspects of life to share both life's difficulties as well as our triumphs over those difficulties. Today we have a very special show for you. We have a friend named Gary Miracle who's come on board to talk to us about his adventure through life, how God has brought him closer. Thank you for being on the show,.  

Gary: Thank you so much. This is an honor to be here talking with you and hopefully reaching some people. 

What does redemption mean to you?  

Paul: Well, Gary, thank you. And let me begin by asking you the same question we ask all of the people who join us on the show as The Redeemed, what does redemption mean to you? 

Gary: Oh my goodness, that is such a loaded question. I am having the opportunity right now to speak and talk to some people, and I'm traveling the country right now in hopes to convince every single person that they are holy, righteous, and redeemed. That they have a new name, that they're taking care of, and that they're not who they once were. And that's an amazing thing, and that's what being redeemed means to me, and that's what redemption looks like is just pulled out, saved, rescued, and redeemed to stand strong. Stand tall all the time. 

 Paul: Well, that's awesome, and I couldn't agree with you more. That for so many of us, the opportunity to be redeemed is something we never dream possible, much less something that God had done for us ahead of all the mistakes and different choices we would make in life. I know for me personally, what an amazing chance and an opportunity to re-live life after making so many of the wrong choices, and it sounds like you have a similar thought process around redemption and what it's meant for you in your life. 

Gary: If people can wrap their mind around what being redeemed looks like, and they can wrap their mind around how that plays out on a day-to-day basis, I think that we would see a massive change. We just don't believe. We think it's too good to be true, and I think we're too scared to dive in. 


Gary Miracle’s Story  
 

Paul: I couldn't agree with you more. Yeah, well, Gary, if you wouldn't mind telling us a little bit about your story, maybe you can tell us a little bit about how you've come to Christ and a little bit about and all the things they've brought you kind of through this difficult circumstance and how you have triumphed over it.   

Gary: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Alright, sit back buckle. I'm gonna take you back. Alright?! 
So I moved to Florida, I was born in Michigan, I lived there till I was 10, and then moved to Florida. About a year after we got to Florida, my mom was actually at the laundry mat one day, and she was invited to church by a lady at the laundromat, and she decided to go, so she drug me and my sister with her because she didn't want to go by herself. Sunday morning was always a lawn cutting day for dad. He always hates this part of the story when I just throw them under the bus, but he would never come with us, it was lawn cutting day. So we just started going to church when I was 11 years old, I remember sitting at church and... I'll never forget, it was October 6th at 7:30 PM. I remember it's so vividly, because we ran home and I was telling my parents about it, we journaled it everything. But it was right at that time that I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I guess... biblically, that's called a Christian. 

So I went down that path, but I would say through a series of events in my entire life, and this is what a lot of people are able to relate with, is that... Yeah, I invited Jesus in my heart when I was 11 years old, but I was probably 35, 36 years old when I became a Christ follower and truly started to figure out what that looked like and what that meant. So that's a super long story short, to lead me up until a couple of years ago.   

Paul: You know that gap between when we give our life to Jesus and when we become a true Christian is something I know I've experienced tremendously in my life. I was able to give my life as a very young age, and at the same time, live only in of being a Christian outwardly, but not necessarily having that sense of faith on an inward level that allowed me to really grow closer to God and to kind of live with him on a day-to-day basis, and I sense that's what you're saying as well. 

Gary: Absolutely. Yep, that's really it. It’s that transition of realizing there's really nothing that I can do to make Christ love me anymore or any less than He does right now.  Coupled with just the freedom to rest in that... The freedom to rest in that redemption. It’s such an amazing thing. And I mentioned I was 35-36. I'm just going to start talking Paul... Here we go. Alright!  

Paul: Please do. No, this your stage! 

 

Identity Crisis 

Gary: Alright, here we go. I'm 40 right now, I just turned 40 this past summer, and I would say it was about four or five years ago, I was going through what you would call an identity crisis. I was really wrestling with who I was as a man, as a husband as a father, son, brother, friend, all that kind of stuff. And really trying to figure out like, Okay, who am I? Who the heck is Christ really? And how does He view me?  

I've spent most of my life trying to figure out how to impress God, how to put on a show, how to jump through hoops, how to do all these things to try to make Christ approve of me. And it just wasn't worth it. And I just remember four or five years ago, just throw it in the towel.  Thinking there's gotta be something more than life than all of this.  

So I reached out to one of my great friends and mentor, and he and I started walking through a book together, and it was a book by an author named John Lynch, and it's called The Cure. I was about 35 years old when my really good friend introduced me to this book and so much so we walked through the book together, he took the time to walk through with me.  And my mind was blown as to what life can actually look like.  

So then I finally landed like, Yes, that's the path that I want to go down, that's the identity that I want to have, that's the theology that I'm choosing to believe in, and to walk down right now and really solidified my faith a little bit, but then it was like, well, what the heck now like, Okay, this sounds great. 


Freedom In Redemption  

Yes, I'm forgiven and I'm actually free and I am changed and I'm different, and I have the full power of Christ inside of man, all of these things. But it was a process still, that was a great thought. But what does that look like? What do I do now with all of this information? And it was a very back and forth kind of thing, but always coming back to the freedom in my redemption and really trying to understand what that looked like.   

Gary Miracles Miraculous Journey 

Timestamp: 7:53
That leads me up to what happened to me, so I just kind of dive into my story a little bit here, the last two years of my life. It was right after Christmas 2019. I got sick right after Christmas in 2019, and so much so that through a matter of days in between Christmas and New Year’s, I had gone to the emergency room four times. Each time I just I wasn't getting better so much so that it was 11PM on New Year's Eve 2019, so literally one hour before ‘Happy New Year’, and the fun celebration to kick off in the year, I started falling into septic shock. I started falling into a coma, so much so that the hospital advised all of my family in friends to come in and say good bye to me. 

 They had given me a 1.7% chance to live. That was tough. I don't know why they couldn't have given me like 2% chance that we live a little bit throwing me a bone. I don’t know how they come up in 1.7 through all of this. It doesn't make sense to me. But man, they gave me that percent chance to live, and everybody was coming to say goodbye to me.  

The hospital that I was at was in at the end of their rope. They didn't know what to do. They told my family that I was living minute by minute, and they were just kind of waiting. So they actually initiated a transfer and I was air lifted from one hospital to hospital in Orlando, Florida.  I arrived there about 2 or 3 AM. I arrived there, and they were in the same boat. We don't know what's wrong, is falling into septic shock, there's nothing we can do, taking it minute by minute.  We made a plea, we made a push to be put on something called the ECMO-machine,  its a form of life support that people are put on. 

So we requested that, but we were told I was not a candidate. The ECMO life support machine is typically for people who just had a heart or a lung transplant, and I didn't, so I wasn't a candidate for it on paper. But we knew that that's a machine that could help. One of my family members was an emergency room doctor, so we really pushed for it and they just kept telling us no. 

At 7:14 AM on January 1st, 2020, I coded and died. 

I was laying lifeless on the hospital bed for just over seven and a half minutes, just under eight minutes that I coded. They say it was just like out of the movies, my whole body started turning blue, this little 100-pound nurse, soaking wet just jumps on top of my chest and starts King Konging me, just pounding on my chest to try to bring me back. They escorted my family out of the room at this point, and about 15 minutes later they came out, my family started screaming at the doctors not to say it, not to tell them.  To just assume that they were going to tell him I was gone, and the doctor leaned down to my family, and so we found a slight pulse.  Then the new cardiac surgeon came walking out and said we found a slight pulse, we don't know what to do. We're minute by minute here, but we're going to throw him a hail Mary and put him on something called the ECMO machine.  
 
So we were so stinking excited that we felt like God was coming through. Getting put on the life support machine that I wanted to be on, that I needed to be on, and it's all happening now.   

So they rushed me back into surgery, it's a five or six-hour surgery.  They put me on this life support machine, and I ended up being on it for 10 days in a coma. So it wasn't until January 10th when I woke up. And the way that this life support machine works is it takes all of the blood and oxygen and circulation from your extremities to pump everything into your core organs to keep everything pumping and running strong, while your organs kind of kick back in a little bit. 

Most people who are on the machine or on it for a day or two, and I was on it for 10.  Which means that for 10 days, my extremities weren't getting any blood oxygen or circulation, so I guess long stories long at this point, I've been talking so long…but long story long…  when I woke up from the coma, I had been on that machine so long that I had learned that because it was so long without my arms and legs receiving any blood oxygen or circulation that they had died and I was going to have to have all four limbs amputated.  

 I am sitting here right now talking with you, literally half the man I used to be, and I don't have any of my limbs, but God saved my life, and that's a pretty goods tinkin in trade off to me. I still get to be here. Be a dad to my kids and my family, and I'm just very thankful. 

It's been quite a journey. There's a hundred other things that I could share right now, but that's what happened to me …Right there.  

 

Being A Bright Light 

Timestamp 13:25 

Paul: What a story, Gary, and thank you so much for sharing it with us, but how powerful to see your smile and your excitement about life amid such tragic circumstances. Talk to me about how God has given you that type of spirit, and how can you be such an optimist. 

 Gary: Yeah, so this is literally my most favorite part of this whole story. I just kind of gave you my medical trauma story there, but I've committed to Christ since the day I comprehended what was happening to me, that until I figure out why he allowed this to happen to me, I was just going to say yes, and walk through any door that He opened for me. Just a commitment I made very early on, which even led me to right here, right now, having this conversation with you.  
 
But there's a couple of things that ran through my head and then I'm going to flip the script on you and maybe everybody who's listening here, the very first verse that came to my head, and I promise you guys, I am not in any way, shape or form some super Christian here, so this is straight from the Lord, because I would not have the strength in my own power to have these thoughts.  

But my very first thought when I learned about my amputation is the verse in the Book of Job, chapter 1, verse 21, it says, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. And I was just reminded so much about how much the Lord has given me my entire life.  Anything I wanted or needed. I didn't really need for anything growing up, and in my adult life. He's given me a ton and I just needed to wrap my mind around the fact that right now in my life, it's just taking away time, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. And right now, He thinks its time to take away my hands and my legs.  But the good news is the verse doesn't end there! 

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord. So whether He's giving or whether He's taking away that God’s still good and still faithful.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

So that's the verse that came to my mind, which launched me into the whole frame of mind that even on my very worst day when I feel like everything is hitting the fan. When I feel like I'm never going to get out of the hospital, or I feel like I'm never going to get out of [filling in the blank for what that is for you or anybody listening], but having that reminder that even on that very worst day, Christ is a pretty crazy about me. He loves me to death.  He's madly in love with me no matter what. That I spent my entire life being a Christian again since I was 11 years old. Talking to people and telling people that God is good, and trying to live my life like God is good, but then something really bad happens to me like this, and then I live in my life, He's not good anymore.  It just wasn't a stance I was willing to take.  I want to live my whole life saying that God is good and then go through something horrible and then actually live like He's actually good. 

 So that's where I'm at right now. I tell them all the time, if He doesn't have something for me on the other side of this, I'm going to punch Him in the face when I get up there or something... I don't know. He's a big guy, I think you could take it. But yeah, that's just where I'm coming from.  

If there's another verse in the Book of Job, chapter 42 verse 5, it says, My whole life I've heard about you with my ears, but for the first time I've seen you with my eyes. I watched Christ show up to save my life multiple times while I was in the hospital. I watched numbers on monitors change through the course of same one prayer about it.  

You only explain that with Christ showing up and being a part of that. So it's pretty easy to live for Christ and to fight for Him and your relationship with Him, we actually saw him show up to save your life. You just have a different perspective on life and bad times and trauma.  

 

Importance of Community  

Timestamp: 17:37 

Paul: You know, you say it's easy to have that kind of perspective and you've seen what you've seen, but so many people don't. The reality is that not only is a God doing things for us, but God also surrounds us a lot of cases with community.  A big part of what we're trying to do at The Redeemed is building a community that helps people understand that even through the most difficult of circumstances that God is alive and present. I could feel that coming from you today.  

Can you talk for a minute about the community that God surrounded you with? I know there were some important people in your life that have helped you and gotten you to where you are today, and you could just talk for a moment about who they are and why they were so critical to your recovery.  

Gary: This is huge. My family and my village of people that have surrounded me, I was in the hospital for 107 days and literally not for one second was I ever left alone. My family and friends had at an actual scheduled Calendar who was going to be in the room with me at all times, and they wrote down scriptures on index card, and just posting all over my hospital room. Pictures of me and the family post it all over. I always want to call it a hotel room because I was there so long, I kind of felt like an Extended Stay.   

It just flooded the room for me with prayer and just petition on my behalf. That bled into me coming home from hospital. I’m rarely left alone, even right now. People are constantly coming in to help me, I'd wake up every day, I a new text message from somebody, ‘Hey, can I bring in lunch today?’ People are just rallying around me and it's such an incredible feeling.  

Now, here's why this is... This is where I get a little preachy, but this is the part that excites me the most. I'm sitting here with no arms and no legs, and I'm going to  venture to say that at the end of the day, every single person that's listening to this right now, is struggling with something.  We all have a struggle in our life, every single one of us is struggling with something at any given moment. And if you're not then buckle up, because its coming.  

Now, the only difference between me and you right now is that my struggles in life are very visible, you can see my struggles, you can see that I don't have hands or legs, you can see how hard it is for me to eat or to get a drink or to read a book to my kids and I'm trying to turn the page without fingers.  You can see how difficult life is for me, and... My biggest thing is I drop things all the time without having hands to grab on to something, I'm constantly dropping things, and then I guarantee you that you, Paul, and anybody here listening, that if you guys were out to eat with me or if we were somewhere and we were eating and you saw me drop my fork, I guarantee you that every single person would pick it up in hand of back to, me.  Most of them without even asking if wanted help or needed help. Most people would just pick up the fork and hand it back to me because they saw my struggle and they just stepped in to help... Because they're very visible.  

Now, this is the part where I try to flip the script on people as I try to say, Okay, I'm going to be okay, even though you can see all of my struggles, I'm going to be alright, I'm going to have a prosthetic leg, I'm going to have prosthetic arms and hands. And with that being said, sometimes the scariest struggles on this planet are the invisible ones, the ones you can't see.  
 
I don't know who out there right now is listening to this, that's struggling with anxiety or depression, or your finances. I don't know, maybe when you're in debt up to your ears and you don't know how you're even going to buy lunch today, maybe it's your marriage or your relationships. I don't know what that is. And that's the scariest part, because if I don't know what your struggle is, then I don't know how to pick up your fork and hand it back to you, and that's terrifying to me.  

I don't think we were meant or wired to do this life alone. Even says in scripture where two or more are gather Christ is faithful to show up.  We have that opportunity, but unfortunately, not a lot of us are brave enough to risk it and put ourselves out there and share with somebodyI found that as I share my struggles that I'm loved more, because people feel so good about stepping in to help me. I am love more because of my struggles. I'm not judged for them.  

I'm learning that with other people as I'm talking to other people, and as I'm convincing people to be brave enough to take the risk and put yourself out there and just share with one person what you're struggling with, I'm seeing chains fall and freedom just bust through and some of these people's lives! 

And that's not my identity, my anxiety does not define me. My depression does define me, I am holy, righteous and redeem, and I struggle with things, that's who I am. I'm not some saved sinner anymore. I'm a saint who's completely changed by Christ.  We still sin sometimes... It's a completely different way of looking at it, but... So exciting. 

 

Find One Person Today – Share! 

Timestamp: 23:12 

Paul: Wow, I am truly inspired. And it is amazing to hear you through your circumstances say that. All in the same time, I can totally appreciate and have lived out the difference between what you described as your outward struggles and my inward struggles. You know, I lived a life for a very long period time, living two different lives, one that I presented to the entire world as to who I was and what I was doing on the outside, and then having a totally different set of feelings, emotions, issues, problems, and actions on the inside. People couldn't necessarily see that I thought I was a very good actor, some may say I was, some may say I wasn't, but I was hiding a whole lot of problems that were going on internally. Those struggles have been ones that have been hard for me to overcome, but only through the love of Christ and through the appreciation and community around me and everybody else, and I've been able to get to a place where I can live both on the outside of the inside the same way. So I can truly appreciate what you're saying, and I thank you for sharing your outward struggles so openly with each and every one of us. 

Gary: And I appreciate it, and I beg people to find one person today that you can tell them what you're struggling with, a lot of people are scared. If you're scared to do that, go to garymiracle.com, and email me.  Tell me. I'll respond to you. And we can talk and we just we’re desperate for a community, for that village with each other and changes things for sure.  

Paul: Well, Gary, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about one of the triumphs that you've had in going out and showing people from a physical perspective, your ability to overcome loss of four limbs and to actually go run a race. Maybe you could talk for just a minute about your ability to overcome and triumph and inspire so many people with your actions.  

Gary: Yeah, so I made it come out, I'm a huge prideful guy, I think.  There's a lot of things that I want to prove people wrong in.  I have some friends, I mentioned my friend, we walked through that book with me four or five years ago.  He's actually the lead singer of a band who wrote a song called Say I Won't, and it's such a big anthem to think like  ‘yes! Just say, I won't do that.’

Well, I was faced with that opportunity, I was told that I was going to have my walking legs, my prosthetic walking legs, and I was told back in June that they were going to make and provide me with the awesome running blades that you see amputees wear.  I was like little Oscar Pistorius, I'm running around out there. But I got those in June, and I found a two-mile race that I ran, I started and finished at two my race just this past August 15th.  So I trained for about two months in running, and I did it. I finished it, it was not very graceful, it took me 49 minutes to finish two miles, but I started and finished.  No feet, no excuses. That's where I'm at.  

Paul: Wow! I  know there are people that are probably listening to the show who struggle with two miles with four limbs, and to think that you were able to do that, that is quite a trip from seven and a half minutes of being declared dead to 107 days in the hospital, and now being able to go out and run a two-mile race, that is quite the ability of overcoming, and setting an example that all of us can be inspired by. 

Gary: Especially when I didn't run the two-mile race the last 20 years in my life. I didn't do it when I had hands and feet.  

Paul: So Gary, 1.7% chance to live, and you have not only survived, but you have made your life into an inspiration for others.  Anything else you'd want to share with our audience today about where you are and what God is doing to continue to work in your life.  

Gary: God is just faithful to show up every time we call on His name. He's got us right where He wants us to be. We're exactly right on time right now. If we wish that things were different than we wish that God was different, and that means we assume that God's doing a bad job. If we wish things were different, as opposed to trusting Him and His timing and His path for everything.  Now my prayer is that you can just sit back and trust in the grace of Christ and who He is and how He views you as His child. And that you will talk to one person in your life about you, about your struggles, about whatever it is you got going on.  Sin and struggle in our lives find its power when it's hidden. When we hide it, it is just growing, its power in our life. But the second we can share it even with just one person that loses that power and control in our lives.  

 So I'm praying that people can find somebody or like I said, email me or reach out to you, Paul, and just talk about life. And just figure out how we can link arms and do life pretty good together.  

Paul: Well, Gary, we can't thank you enough for coming on the show today for sharing your story and being an inspiration, each and every one of us. I certainly believe, if you can come away from your circumstances with the kind and loving heart and the openness to Jesus that you have that any of us can do the same, whether it be an outward struggle and inward struggle. So we just truly thank you.   

To all of our listeners tonight, thank you so much for hearing Gary and his story, you can reach you garymiracle.com, you can reach out to us at theredeemed.com. We encourage each and every one of you to follow us on social media, can you continue to keep up through our newsletter and what we're doing.  We'll have another great show for you the next Third Thursday of the month.  

Good luck, God speed. And love each and every one of you.