It was a rare day that my brother, Rocco spoke to me about God. As a matter of fact after the Lord cleaned me up and I was full of zeal (but not much tact) he respectfully requested I stop talking to him about Jesus or he wouldn't hang around me. So I had obliged knowing the power was in prayer and believing the Lord was working on him. On occasion, mostly when he and I had time alone, he would bring up observations of how different I was now. He would do the same with my mom asking her about her conversion from religion to a Spirit-filled, bible reading, lover and follower of Jesus Christ.
In 2012, I had a dream of my brother and a friend of mine, a godly prayer warrior and pastors wife. In my dream she whispered something in his ear and he dropped to his knees in tears of repentance. It was actually a very scary dream and emotional as I honestly can't remember ever seeing my brother cry, not even so much as a child. Even though he was so kind and caring, his main role from the time we were little was one of protector in my life so he never showed tears. I shared this dream the next time I saw my friend. She immediately volunteered to pray and fast with me once a week and then she shared Job 33: 14-18, 23-26 with me.
14 For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.
15 He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they lie in their beds.
16 He whispers in their ears
and terrifies them with warnings.
17 He makes them turn from doing wrong;
he keeps them from pride.
18 He protects them from the grave,
from crossing over the river of death.
23 “But if an angel from heaven appears--
a special messenger to intercede for a person
and declare that he is upright--
24 he will be gracious and say,
‘Rescue him from the grave,
for I have found a ransom for his life.’
25 Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s,
firm and youthful again.
26 When he prays to God,
he will be accepted.
And God will receive him with joy
and restore him to good standing.
So with that encouragement and all the promises of prayer and power of fasting, by faith we began praying and fasting every Monday for my brother. And God would begin to show me great and mighty things although things would get worse, much worse.
In May of 2013, Rocco did bring up God. I was at his automotive shop with him that day visiting. (If you are familiar with Cedar Crest, my dad and brother owned Pro Automotive on North 14 next to Burger Boy.) Not only was he going through his regular chronic pain from ankylosing spondylitis and his back that had been broken in two places years before, but he was also dealing with some court issues from back gross receipts taxes. Always the responsible man, he continued to do hard physical work at his shop every day and provide for his family. That day he said something so profound to me, something that showed me deeper into his thought process and his heart. I am sure many amazing things happened from Gods perspective that day but two things stand out that were beautiful to me.
One, he allowed me to take a picture of him (shown above with his dog, Shadow) which he never did and two he said to me that he believed God was punishing him just as he had punished Job. Job! Although it was a heavy moment, I cannot tell you how thrilled I was that he brought up God to me and of all books, the book of Job! What a battle must have been brewing in the spiritual realm as he openly spoke and I was given the permission to share truth with him in an area that he was clearly believing a lie. Jesus said the truth will set you free, so it only makes sense that a lie will keep us in bondage. And in bondage he was. But clearly God wanted him set free in this area. Job was not being punished by God and neither was my brother. That day I was able to speak openly and share with him the story of Job and the part that Satan played. I also got to share with Him that the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus so we didn't have to face that if we put our trust in Jesus.
We left it at that. Inside I was jumping for joy that in a normal conversation I had been able to share the gospel with him. I prayed fervently that God would use His word and all the prayers to bring light, repentance and salvation.
Then August 13, 2013 tragedy struck. My brother wanting his teenage son to be safe on his motorcycle that first week of the new school year rode his own motorcycle alongside him. On his return ride home my brother was hit by a car and sustained numerous broken bones and internal bleeding. Witnesses say that he immediately picked himself up off the ground and started to pick up his motorcycle not aware of his injuries. That was my Rocco. My mom and I spent the day at the hospital rotating with his son and wife in his room. Once his wife left for the evening to go home, I went to the hospital to spend the night. With all his broken bones, he was heavily medicated and nodding in and out. At one point as I sat next to his bed in his dimly lit room with my head bowed in prayer he looked over at me and asked what I was doing, I froze knowing I ran the risk of making him mad by telling him. But I was honest and told him I was praying, he simply nodded and said "ok". Tears still well up in my eyes as I remember his face that night. That night I was able to quote scripture over him encouraging him and he allowed me to.
The next day in my prayer room as I cried out to God both praising him for keeping my brother alive but heartbroken that things had just gotten much worse than they were, I went to youtube to find a worship song and found that one of my favorite ministries had just uploaded a new song the day of my brothers accident. I have found in seasons of grief and sorrow that music and scripture can articulate deepness better than my own words. It would become in my life the soundtrack for the next couple of years as I watched my brother suffer and my mom and I endured our own suffering.
The song is based on the suffering of Job and a short sermon excerpt from John Piper that to this day still gives me chills and causes me to feel great sorrow and great praise to God simultaneously. "And I'll know that every tear was worth it all."
I hope you'll listen to the entire song and be moved, but at the least, tune in at 3:25 to hear John Piper.
What would transpire for the next two years was equally painful and heart wrenching, but beginning the day of the accident my mom and I committed to daily prayer together for my brother. My once a week fasting and prayer with my friend continued- but now my mom and on would get on the phone every day and intercede at the throne of God for my brothers salvation and healing. (To this day we have continued that practice and have seen so many prayers answered!)
I wish I could tell you that it ended with my brother lifting holy hands to God here in the land of the living, but I can't. Unexpectedly, Rocco Robert Schultheis would pass into eternity July 2, 2015 due to a prescription drug overdose from his pain killers.
Although we didn't get to see it here with our eyes, I do believe that our prayers were answered and that Jesus, his Intercessor, brought Rocco healing and salvation and eternal joy and peace bringing Job 33:24-26 to pass.
"He will be gracious and say, ‘Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life.’ (Jesus). Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s, firm and youthful again. When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing."
Stay tuned for more blogs on my brother, the prodigal.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.… 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9