Turn the Radio On

“I’d suggest getting your affairs in order,” the doctor told the older woman.

The doc said this with no emotion. He just looked at his shoes because apparently he couldn’t bear to meet her eyes.

“Are you telling me that I’m dying?” she said.

No answer. Just a nod. Then more medical jargon.

The news hit her like a runaway boxcar. She went home and almost had a nervous breakdown. She was about to hyperventilate. She needed to think. Needed to lower her heart rate.

Must breathe. Must sit. Must keep it together. Inhale. Exhale.

Music. That’s what she needed right now. Something—anything—to distract her from the fear. She turned on the old wooden GE radio sitting in the kitchen and closed her eyes.

The music blasted through the linoleum room. Dean Martin sang about silver bells, and Der Bingle sang about dreams involving glistening treetops and white Christmases. She cried upon her enamel breakfast table.

Death. She wasn’t ready to die. She had raised four kids alone after her husband left her years ago.

She was the single mom you’ve seen a million-and-five times in public. The mom who clips coupons from the Sunday paper, who works three jobs, who sews denim patches on the butts of Little League uniforms.

Now her children were grown and she was, what, on her way out? It was a cruel joke, she told God. Cruel and disgusting. And it was beneath him.


Her old radio crackled and hissed with static.

Then the music stopped. Then static. Then music. Then the reception was garbled with snowy interference and the receiver started picking up a station in Spanish.

She smacked the radio. Which only made her cry harder. So she smacked the radio again. And again.

And again.

The static was replaced by the voice of an obnoxious radio preacher blaring through the tweed speaker. And although she cannot recall the sermonizer’s exact words, they went something to the tune of:

“There’s someone out there right now who is afraid, who just received bad news from the doctor…”

She looked at the glowing lights on the dial of the ancient radio.

What did he just say?

“… This person is scared, and alone, and you don’t want anyone to know how frightened you are…”

This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be real. She wasn’t going to fall for this.

“… I want you to know that if you’re courageous enough to believe, if you have the guts to blindly believe, you will get through this. That’s a promise. Doctors cannot explain the mysteries of heaven, and neither can you. Miracles happen every day…”

This really, really, couldn’t be happening.


She felt her knees get weak. And she felt hot streaks of water rolling down her cheeks, cascading down her chin. She crumpled onto the cool floor and felt her lips utter three words.

“Help me believe.”

She doesn’t remember much after that except for hearing the preacher holler about believing in impossible things.

Faith, it’s called by some. Assurance, it’s called by professional hymn writers. The old-timers called it Providence. Someone very famous once called it moving mountains.

Either way, something happened inside her, and she actually believed. The woman believed with every gene, every cell, and each atom inside her. It just clicked. She knew she was going to get better.

It wasn’t so much that she had blind faith, and it wasn’t some magic bolt of lightning. It was simply that she knew everything would be okay. She didn’t know exactly how it would be okay, or when it would be okay, but she knew that she was safe. Safety. That’s all anyone wants, really. We want to feel secure.

“I wanna believe,” she whispered.

She said this not to the radio, not to the preacher, not even to the Almighty. She said it to that scared little kindergartener within herself. The child inside us all, the child who so badly needs a hug. The kid who had lost all faith.

The next morning she awoke after a restful sleep. Something in her had shifted. No, she wasn’t a hundred percent better. Yes, she still had the jabbing pain in her lungs. But something was definitely different in the mental department.

“I was like my old self again,” she said. “I still had breathing issues, but my mind felt better. I just knew my cancer wasn’t going to last. I just knew.”

Months later, she underwent follow-up tests. And one afternoon, her doctor explained that the results had come back negative. He could not understand it. He had never seen anything like it. He was, frankly, very confused.

“We couldn’t find a mass anywhere,” he said.

She cried happy, beautiful, sacred tears. She cried for weeks.

A couple months later, her oldest son was repairing an overhead lighting fixture in her kitchen. She was cooking a grilled cheese on the stove while he was on a ladder.

“How about some music?” she announced.

The woman went to the old GE radio and flipped the switch on the dial, but nothing happened. No glowing light. No sound. Nothing. She kept fiddling with it to no avail.

Finally her son descended the ladder and inspected the back of the radio with a laugh.

“Mama,” he said. “Don’t you remember? This old radio has had a busted circuit board for years. You just kept it for looks. This broken radio hasn’t worked since I was a little kid.”

Today she is ninety-four. And she says she still owns that radio.


  1. Lisa K Riley - November 30, 2021 7:10 am

    You just gotta believe. Survived COVID and stage 3 breast cancer that way. Not saying my husband didn’t believe. Not saying that at all. Man had over 400 people at his funeral, and each one had a story about how he had affected their lives. God just has a purpose for each of us and sometimes it suits his purpose to save us. Perhaps He has something left for us like the lady in the story. Perhaps not. At any rate, I will take my chances. You just gotta believe!

  2. david grant - November 30, 2021 10:34 am

    Thank you Sean. May our Lord bless your writing even more.

  3. Joy jacobs - November 30, 2021 11:27 am

    God is always there when we need him. Some days this thought is needed more than others.

  4. Doug Baird - November 30, 2021 12:10 pm

    Great story Sean! It really touched my heart. Thank you, Doug.

  5. Darlene Meader Riggs - November 30, 2021 12:15 pm

    ❤️x a million! As someone who got some scary news in 2010, it was my faith, family and friends that got me thru it. Ten years later, I am still here. I’m not as shiny or strong, but I’m grateful to the moon and back!

  6. Marilyn - November 30, 2021 12:35 pm

    I do believe that our “higher power” can get us through yet another storm. It was proven yesterday. Prayers are continuing for a better solution to a 7-month trial with medical incompetence.at multiple facilities. Thank you, Jesus, and thank you Sean, for this reminder.

  7. Sheri - November 30, 2021 12:43 pm

    Such a beautiful story. It made me smile and cry all at the same time. Thank you,

  8. Lewis - November 30, 2021 1:02 pm

    You have struck another chord today, my brother, and it is sonorous.

  9. Karen - November 30, 2021 1:05 pm


  10. Judy Mcgowen - November 30, 2021 1:35 pm

    Ooohh that one gave me chill bumps . Thanks Sean

  11. Linda J Hendrix - November 30, 2021 1:37 pm

    Miracles do happen! As does, hearing from God! Thank you Sean once again for such a beautiful, enlightening post. Love your work.

  12. Cindy - November 30, 2021 1:37 pm

    Thank you! You gotta believe….and I do….it’s gonna be ok!

  13. Paul McCutchen - November 30, 2021 1:39 pm

    Sometimes believing is all you need. Sometimes it helps but you have to believe it will help.

  14. boughsofhawley - November 30, 2021 1:41 pm

    I have appointments tomorrow with neck surgeon and neck oncologist for positive lymph nodes since thyroid cancer which was after colon cancer which was after breast cancer. Maybe I needed this message at this time.

  15. Shelton A. - November 30, 2021 1:53 pm

    Miracles do happen. Thank you for her story of faith and belief. God bless her at 94 and for more. With God, anything is possible.

  16. Melanie - November 30, 2021 2:26 pm

    And another keeper going straight into my “Sean of the South” folder. ❤️

  17. Kathie J Kerr - November 30, 2021 2:35 pm

    I wanna believe. But until everyone has a magic radio, it doesn’t seem fair.

    • Becky - November 30, 2021 7:24 pm

      Kathy, everyone does have a magic radio. It’s called faith. Faith that no matter what life brings Jesus is right beside us and it IS going to be okay.

  18. BEX - November 30, 2021 2:40 pm

    Thank you! I needed this today! God Bless!

  19. Cathy M - November 30, 2021 3:08 pm

    I feel sorry for non believers. I can’t imagine going through even a day without my faith. Someone in my bible study asked the question , why do we believe, and without blinking I responded, why do we breathe? Can’t take a breath without knowing that he walks with me every minute of every day. What a privilege.

  20. Stacey Wallace - November 30, 2021 3:13 pm

    Doctors are great, but they don’t everything. Thankfully, the Great Physician does. Thanks, Sean. That was a wonderful story.

  21. Suellen - November 30, 2021 3:23 pm

    My doctor always told the story of doing everything he could for a young mother with a brain tumor. Exhausting all options he sent her to a well known hospital in a big city and they couldn’t find a brain tumor. Miracles happen every day. It doesn’t mean that those who don’t get their miracle didn’t believe enough. “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Roman 14:8

  22. JACKIE LEON DARNELL - November 30, 2021 3:27 pm

    I believe, lots of folks do not. But, but I do.

  23. AlaRedClayGirl - November 30, 2021 3:47 pm

    A beautiful story of faith.

  24. Suzanne Brantley - November 30, 2021 3:48 pm

    Oh my!!! How we need stories like this today. There’s such power in a testimony! Thank you, Sean!

  25. Patricia Gibson - November 30, 2021 3:54 pm

    What wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. We all need to remember that God is in charge and no one else🙏
    Merry Christmas

  26. Richard Owen - November 30, 2021 3:59 pm

    A friend of mine who was once a very successful fashion photographer has developed some videos called “Journeys with the Messiah”. Michael’s life had reached a point that he was making a fortune as a photographer but he felt more unsatisfied with his life with each passing day. Just before the 2007-08 real estate market collapsed, he accepted Christ into his life and set about making a series of photographs that would bring Jesus into today’s world. I am finding them very inspirational as my life heads toward its end. I have been doing what this woman’s doctor told her: get your affairs in order. If anyone is looking for another chance to accept Christ into their lives, I suggest the following link: https://tinyurl.com/yrcvbp2f and may God bless.

  27. Margaret Cade - November 30, 2021 4:08 pm

    That was beautiful. Gave me chill bumps. God is good. ❤️

  28. Joan Moore - November 30, 2021 4:45 pm

    Nothing is too hard for God! Thank you for pointing it out for us.

  29. Liza - November 30, 2021 5:05 pm


  30. chrisswain3 - November 30, 2021 5:47 pm

    If you ever become paralyzed get a voice recorder. Or hire a secretary. But always tell your stories .

  31. Marilyn - November 30, 2021 6:33 pm

    Oh, do I have goosebumps! This is exactly what I needed to read today, a dose of encouragement. Thank you!

  32. Skip Johns - November 30, 2021 7:11 pm

    The Lord works in strange and mysterious ways, his miracles to perform.

  33. Harriet White - November 30, 2021 7:30 pm

    This one spoke to me. Sean, god guides your keyboard to write stories like this.

  34. Linda Moon - November 30, 2021 7:45 pm

    Music. That song. Once again I’m thankful for good thoughts while reading a Sean of the South column. Twelve siblings I’ve loved didn’t have electricity until 1952. One of the first songs they heard when they listened to their new electric radio was “Turn Your Radio On”. From then on, a brother or sister would sing the tune “Turn Your Radio On” as a signal for somebody to turn their radio on. Providence and electricity helped raised them, and the sister who provided the radio lived to be 92. She’s in touch with God now…no radio needed.

  35. MAM - November 30, 2021 8:36 pm

    Faith and belief in God, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will carry us through every storm. We have to believe with our whole being! Thanks, Sean, for the daily reminders of what is important.

  36. PEGGY CAMPBELL - November 30, 2021 8:38 pm

    WOW!!! Ain’t God amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  37. Romulus Martin - November 30, 2021 9:34 pm

    WOW!!! JESUS is alive and well!!

  38. greimanm - November 30, 2021 10:21 pm

    LOVE it!!!! Keep the faith! Thank you for writing this.

  39. RHETT - December 1, 2021 1:43 am

    Thank you. God is more gooder than most of us know.

  40. Janet J Quiroga - December 1, 2021 2:54 am

    I have a folder just like yours, Melanie! “Sean of the South”

  41. Karen Snyder - December 2, 2021 4:05 am

    Thanks, Sean for another story of the power of faith.❤️ Thanks, Linda Moon, for the ear worm. 😉 What a wonderful song to close out my day.

  42. Genell Dellin - December 5, 2021 10:38 pm

    Thank you, Sean!

  43. Lidia Scalzi - December 7, 2021 4:53 pm

    I usually ready your entries within a day. I’m late. But I needed to hear this today. Thank you for writing it.

  44. tammydee12 - December 8, 2021 1:46 pm

    Thank you for the beautiful story. I have heard so many like these over the years and even experienced a couple myself. God is real and he really does care for us! He has done many miracles in my life and I have been transformed by His love and grace. Thank you!


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