BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- "I don't have a description of the pain that went on, other than this," said Hillvue Heights Church Pastor Steve Ayers. "I tell people it was like there were balls of just glass and shrapnel and metal that started in my hip and so I could set it down a little bit, and I'd have to get my breath. And it would take about 30 minutes before I could get my feet on the floor so I could stand up."
"Yeah, every single step," Steve's wife Elizabeth said.
"And it got frustrating after while," said Steve. "It was like, ya know, 'God, am I just gonna be in pieces the rest of my life' ya know."
And then it happened.
"I did have an encounter," Steve said. "There was a moment of pain where I really knew I was just in the presence of the Lord. And this was in the beginning of it."
"That was Friday morning," said Elizabeth.
"I know the presence of the Lord," Steve said, "so I knew where I was and the reason I knew I was in the presence of the Lord, Gene, I felt no pain. And I was at total peace."
Steve continued, "And so I'm like, 'Jesus, you never listen to me. You never have. But, let's call it.' Ya know, the kids are grown they've got their wives. I said 'I like this. Let's just stay here.' And as the Lord always does, he said 'Well Steven, don't you reckon.' See Jesus knows how to speak Southern cuz this is one of his Southern children, he said, "Don't you reckon we need to go back and finish that fight we started?' And I remember goin', 'I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.' And as soon as I said that, Boom, I'm back in my body, but I'm also with this. It's at that moment that I'm reassured, even though it doesn't feel like it, Gene, that okay, somehow I know we're gonna work this out."
Gene: "It sounds to me like this experience has reinforced your belief in the strength of the Spirit."
Steve: "Oh that would be, yes, that would be a very clear statement. I knew it was there. Now I KNOW it's there."
And Steve began using that new intensity, to witness to people before he even left the burn unit. A fact that was not lost on a fireman visiting the burn unit with a young arsonist.
"He said this young man he just spoke to," said Elizabeth, "burned down a home two days ago. He's getting ready to go into juvenile detention and we haven't been able to get him to understand the impact of what he's done. We thought bringin' him here might help, but nothing helped until your dad spoke to him. And that really affirmed to Claci and I and to our family that God wasn't finished with Steve."
"This is what I've learned more than anything out of this, Gene," Steve told me. "This has been my top learning lesson. Even if it's painful, that doesn't mean it's not good, because through the pain God begins to reveal himself. I don't know how I missed this, since his son was crucified which is a very painful experience. My confidence in Christ is everything."