Yes. Si. Oui. Ja. Ken. Hai. Sim.
In almost every language, "yes" is a little word. When spoken freely, without a sense of obligation, within the context of love, our "yes" carries power. It indicates a freedom of choice and a motivation of love and trust.
Before I continue my story, let's review a few important steps on the path to inner healing.
No one goes anywhere with God unless first invited by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, every healing story begins with God's desire for our wholeness, not our desire for wholeness. Apart from him, we don't even know we're broken.
We have to agree with God that we're broken. Sometimes, we have to speak this agreement aloud in the presence of other believers.
I'm stunned and a bit embarrassed by the fact it's been THREE MONTHS since my last post. I have nothing to say for myself.
It isn't that I don't have things to write about. Life is busy, rich, and full. I could post every day. I just haven't figured out how to manage everything. Exercise and blogging are particularly difficult to fit into my daily schedule. But that has to change. Soon. The blogging part, anyway.
It's platform building time.
But first, let's catch you up.
THE PHANTOM NOVEL
Back in December, my daughter came down with mono. Poor girl had a go of it, and I clocked lots of hours in the recliner holding her. Needing an occupation, I pulled out the manuscript of my novel, which I hadn't touched since September 2015.
The novel you either forgot about or gave up on because I haven't mentioned it in forever.
As with this blog, I hadn't meant for so much time to pass before picking it up again. But between an attempt to make the one novel into two (per the recommendation of three readers) and the inherent life changes which come with being miraculously healed of an incurable disease, it slept sad and alone in the files of my laptop for over a year.
I fiddled with a revised plot outline for the "first" novel two or three days before I realized I had no heart for that story. None. I couldn't make myself care.
I remember God saying, "Well if you don't care about it, no one else will."
So I abandoned the 80k word NaNoWriMo draft I crafted a year prior and began the task of making my original novel work as one cohesive story. On January 6th of this year, I submitted my manuscript to an editor. She returned it last weekend. I'm now ready to make one last round of revisions before I'm done. And that, my friends, will be the easiest part of what's left of the process before my book is in your hands.
AAAAALL THE DECISIONS
Like most authors, I prefer to write my stories and leave the business side of self-publishing to someone else. Unfortunately, that isn't the way it works. When you self-publish, you ARE the business. For better or for worse, you make all the decisions.
Book title. Artwork. Blurbs. Biographies. Dedications. Cover design. Internal formatting. ISBNs. Publishing company title. Logo design. Budgeting. Marketing. Platform. Web site design. Core value statement. Wordpress themes. Photography.
Oh, and apparently I have expensive taste. Yikes.
Once upon a time, I needed to breathe into a paper bag when contemplating these things. Now I remind myself God's got this and it will all fall into place in due time.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The next step is clear. I need my own online domain.
Very soon, my blog will undergo a change of address. I would LOVE for you guys to make the move with me. I need to build a following on the new website so I will have an audience waiting when I release my novel this spring. Everyone who signs up for my newsletter will receive a FREE unpublished short story. So that's fun.
Book stuff doesn't monopolize all of my mental real estate, believe it or not.
Superman and I are looking into starting another business this year. In addition to our day jobs. Don't worry, I fully realize the insanity of starting two businesses the same year, but we aren't getting any younger. If not us, who? If not now, when?
God has laid out a fresh vision for local ministry over the past few weeks. I'm stepping into more of a leadership role in our Personal Prayer Ministry in Ruston. There's also a new sister ministry in the inception stage. My future role in the new ministry is hard to guess at this time, but I suspect it will eventually be a significant part of my life.
I continue to enjoy my work at Geneva Academy, where my children attend school. The longer I'm there, the more I love the heart, the vision, and the people. My friend Jarrod Richey would like me to return next year as a part-time music teacher, particularly if I'm able to attend a Kodály methodology training this summer in Moscow, Idaho. I haven't yet decided what I'll do.
After I release my novel, I will write my autobiography, which will focus on my illness and healing. God says it's time to tell the whole story--a story most people haven't heard. I plan to finish the book this summer and release it in the fall. There's a possible children's book in the works as well.
Next month, my family and I will travel to Austin, Texas to spend some extended time with my best friend and her family and to share my story with their church community group. I look forward to our time there.
Feel caught up now? You're not. Not even a little bit.
I could tell you story after story about how God is working in my life, the lives of family members, the lives of friends and the various communities I'm a part of. The first church experience is my new normal. I see people healed, delivered, saved, and encouraged on a regular basis.
Over the past 14 months, it has been my delight to discover that God still works today as He did in the book of Acts. The very same way. I'm not a special case. God is actually as generous with healing now as He was in Jesus' day, if not more so. Nothing has changed except our expectations.
But even sweeter than the miracles I've seen is God's abiding presence in my life. He is everything, and without Him, miracles would be meaningless.
Today, I enjoy the intimacy with God I dreamed about as a young teen. On one hand, I'm satisfied. I don't need a thing this world offers. If on the off-chance I become rich and famous, okay. Great. If I don't, who cares? On the other hand, I know there's more of God to be had so I have to have more. And more and more and more and more. Like any good addict. I love that I serve an infinite God. Anything less would fail to satisfy.
Whatever happens over the next few months, sink or swim, He is all I need. It was true when I was sick. It's true now that I'm healed. That's the joy of serving a God who doesn't change in a world that never stays the same.
My family and I made plans to float last year. That trip was supposed to be a sort of redemption, and I was looking forward to it, sick and all.
A few days before we left, the Lord gave me a vision during my time with him. I saw myself baptized in the Buffalo River. By Brandon.
I knew the vision wasn't purely symbolic. It was something God wanted me to do. But in typical Melissa fashion, I argued with him.
"That's crazy. I'm not doing that."
"Why? I've already been baptized. Twice."
"It's weird. It doesn't make sense."
"That water's cold, God. And you know how I react to the cold."
*A warm flood of peace*
Then I recalled Namaan. The leper who was healed by dipping in the Jordan seven times. Who wouldn't do it at first because it seemed too strange. And then like Peter I exclaimed, "Okay! I'll do it! Feet, hands, head and all!"
But the rains didn't stop last year and the river "came a flood." No one was allowed on. Basically, last year's trip was the story of the previous four years. I remember my disappointment. Another to add to the pile.
"Next year," I said to comfort myself.
Little did I know I'd experience radical, miraculous healing in every part of my being a few months later.
Making Sense of What I Saw
I have this insatiable drive to understand things. Even things I know are mystery.
Since the vision came, I've been trying to reason out why God would want me to be baptized again. Why, God? Why now? Why here? Why this way?
I mean, I've always been a believer. I can't remember a time in which I didn't love God or believe in Jesus. Belief has been a constant in my life.
That being said, there has been a seismic shift in my faith in the past few years. No one who knows me well could miss it. The entire landscape has changed. Everything looks different because of what's happened underneath the surface. But isn't that what's supposed to happen in times of intense sanctification?
Is the baptism some kind of symbol of redemption? To wash away the rubble of the last few years? Why be baptized in the Buffalo River by Brandon with only a handful of witnesses as opposed to in a church before a congregation by a pastor? I have several pastors in my life. Why not have one of them do it?
Washed in the Water of the Word
In search of answers, I plunged into the Word and early Church history. What I found is that the early Church treats baptism very differently than people of my church tradition.
Throughout the years, I've heard the metaphor that baptism is like a wedding ring. "The ring doesn't make you married. It's just a symbol of the marriage that's already happened."
After my research, I find the explanation a little...insipid.
Keeping within the marriage metaphor, I would like to submit the idea that baptism is less like a wedding ring, which is a mere symbol of marriage, and more like the marriage ceremony itself, which is more like a sign. A sign defined as a visible expression of a spiritual reality. Something to help we humans understand something important is happening in the spiritual realm.
A ceremony doesn't make you married any more than baptism makes you a Christian, but it's definitely something more than a symbolic bauble. In a marriage ceremony, something real happens. Vows--whether verbal or non-verbal--are exchanged between husband and wife, the couple and God, and the couple and the community. The action seals the reality.
The way I see it, baptism isn't a wedding ring. It's the wedding itself.
Why I Believe This Way:
1) Old Testament law presents us with ceremonies which point to ultimate salvation in Jesus Christ. These ceremonies include ritual washing in order to be "clean." Proselytes were initiated into the Jewish people by baptism as a symbol of "cleanness." Ezekiel mentions a washing for cleansing which God performs as a sign of His covenant with his people (16:6-14). As part of the law, symbols are important. God gave them to us to help us recognize the Christ. But in Matthew 15, Jesus clearly states what goes on in the heart is far more important than the outward symbol.
(Unfortunately), we all know people who have run around on their spouses with their wedding rings on. That's what the Pharisees in Jesus' day were trying to do. They looked married but didn't act like it, which is why John the Baptist threw a hissy fit when the Pharisees came to be baptized in Matthew 3. They wanted to wear the ring without making the commitment.
2) Scripture is clear that believer's baptism is categorically different from Old Testament symbols. For example, the flood in Noah's day is the accompanying antitype to baptism (1 Peter 3:18-22). Noah and his family were "saved through water."
We know from Romans 10 that baptism isn't a prerequisite for salvation, but it has to be more than a simple symbol. 1 Peter 3:21 says, "There is also an antitype [of Noah's ark] which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..."
According to scripture, baptism isn't the means of salvation, and yet it saves us by answer of a good conscience toward God--a mysterious paradox which kind of makes my brain explode.
3) Baptism wasn't considered optional in the early Church. You don't see believers professing without baptism. It goes hand in hand.
4) In early Church tradition, baptism was a very big deal. New believers weren't immediately baptized. Baptism was an initiation into the Church which took place some time after the believer professed faith in Christ. For Romans, to be baptized was treason. The act was a statement that they were willing to die for their faith.
Before believers were baptized, they were educated in the Christian faith and received deliverance ministry. Time tested their commitment. The primary reason this practice was lost is due to infant baptism, which I don't care to argue for or against here. (For more information, read McDonnell and Montague's Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries.)
5) John the Baptist described his baptism as a baptism of repentance--the action of turning from sin toward God, resulting in forgiveness. Baptism for the forgiveness of sins is already something more than Old Testament washing, and John says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but [Jesus] who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11).
I believe this verse indicates something major is happening at the moment of baptism. Something invisible to us and very visible in the spiritual realm.
I concluded from my research that my baptism was about something more than redemption. I believed something would happen at the moment of my baptism. I wasn't sure what. I'm still not entirely sure. But here are a few of my thoughts:
1) It was about redemption.
In the years since my last trip, I went through fire and water, but God brought me out to rich fulfillment (Ps. 66:12).
If you look at the background in the photo, you see signs of a flood. The flood that kept me from being baptized last year. Devastation that swept away everything which wasn't firmly rooted in the soil.
When we came to this place on the river, the Holy Spirit leapt inside of me. I knew it. I'd seen it. Had there been no flood, this picture would be the exact match of what I saw in the vision last year.
In my life, had there been no flood, there would've been no baptism. Because there would've been no death. And without death, there's no resurrection.
2) In that moment, I fully identified with Christ.
I identified with him in a way I couldn't at ages 6 and 10. I took on his name. I took on his person. I made a cosmic declaration--"For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others. Even unto death."
In short, I got married.
3) He laid me low and raised me up something new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Y'all, I'm different. I'm alive in a way I've never been. Let the whole world know. I. am. new.
4) When my Superman baptized me, I received his blessing upon my ministry.
When I first told Brandon he was going to baptize me--see how I did that?--he looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. "Me? Baptize you?" he asked.
Silly boy. He still has no idea how powerful his spiritual authority is. He has no idea how his words sink into my skin. How his gospel love saves me every day. How his prayers change the whole atmosphere of our home. How when he prays for me and the kids, things happen.
God is calling me to things bigger than either of us. If I'm going to do them, I need more than Brandon's reluctant approval. I need his blessing. It isn't optional.
My reformed friends have no idea what I'm talking about.
This was a Baptist kid thing. And as a Baptist and a female, my options were limited. I could either be a missionary, a Sunday school teacher, or a minister of women. (Deaconesses and lady preachers are the unicorns of the Baptist church.)
I was under the impression you had to a be a professional Christian to really be used by God. I had yet to learn that God uses mothers and fathers, teachers and artists, plumbers and computer engineers, businessmen and farmers to advance his kingdom.
In my mind, you were either a star player or a flower-picker. There was no in-between.
A lot of us think this way, which is why us ordinary folk are content to stroll along the outskirts of the action. Leave the SportsCenter highlights to the pros. Am I right?
Don't answer. It was a rhetorical question.
Last Saturday, I watched my son play his first soccer game. I honestly thought he'd be a flower picker.
Just keeping it real. He's new to the sport and--like his mama--he kinda lives in his own little world most of the time. And well...doesn't he look like a flower picker to you?
I never thought I'd be that mom, but I was jumping up and down, clapping, and whooping. Not because he scored a goal. He didn't. And not because he got it all right. He didn't (see above photo). But because he threw himself into the fray.
I wasn't nearly as proud of Micah's success as I was his effort. His willingness to try. Did I care that he missed the ball on a couple of kicks? No! I had the time of my life watching him miss those kicks.
May I submit that God feels the same way about us? And that maybe he has a way of using our missed kicks?
As I mentioned before, I'm a flower-picker type. A frequent flyer to La-La Land. And don't ask me to multitask. More often than not, it goes wrong.
I know, I know...women are supposed to be phenomenal multitaskers. Blah, blah, blah. Yeah...no.
Last week, I attended Project 41's monthly Worship Night. It was an amazing night. I just love it when the Holy Spirit drops. There's a holy weight to the air. A sweetness in the atmosphere. It's good stuff.
Anyway, one of the worship leaders dedicated a song to "two very special ladies" and encouraged us all to sit back and soak it in. But as I closed my eyes and settled back onto the sofa, my friend nudged me and asked me to pray for her headache. I was happy to.
But I could only give the song a half ear at best. For whatever reason, the song I heard was "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
My friend's headache improved, but hadn't completely gone away when we moved into a time of prayer. So I announced her headache to the group. (Beware of being my friend.)
She sat in the chair in the center of the room, and I took a front row seat from which I watched God love on her through the people around her.
In the midst of the outpouring, I had a vision of Jesus walking her through a garden, pointing out the flowers, showing her how beautiful they were. With the vision, he gave me a song to sing for her.
My pulse raced and heart pounded. I may be a singer, but this kind of thing always makes me nervous. So I asked everyone to join me as I sang, "In the Garden."
The following day, my friend thanked me for the song. She said, "When they sang it the first time, I wasn't sure it was for me. I thought they meant two other ladies. But when you sang it, God showed me it was for me."
I blinked. Wait, whaaaa????
I had no idea the worship leaders had already sung that song. At first, I argued with her. "They sang 'Just a Closer Walk with Thee,' not 'In the Garden.'"
A third friend and the worship leader who'd led the song confirmed it. With droll grins.
Nope. "In the Garden."
Awkward. All I could do was laugh. I can be such a dingbat.
I'd committed the musical equivalent of a missed kick. (A difficult thing for a musician.) But that "missed kick" made my friend feel more loved than she would've felt otherwise.
There are a lot of ways to live surrendered to the ministry.
The key is to live more surrendered to God than to self. To be more afraid of someone missing out on God's love than of looking like an idiot.
Some of us are star players who get paid to score goals and get kicked in the shins. Most of us...aren't. I'm not. But that doesn't mean I should leave all the work to the pros. We're a body. A team. There's a place for us all.
Which means there's a place for flower-pickers, too. Pick flowers to the glory of God! There's a time and a place for that ministry. I should know. Just be ready for the ball when God sends it your way.
Engage. Take risks. You may miss a few kicks, but God is an ever-proud papa. He cheers every effort in His name. You may be a dingbat, but His laughter is kind. And you can trust Him to turn even your failures for good.
I posted my story in the mast cell groups on Facebook. While most who took the time to read were encouraged and/or happy for me, some just weren't.
I don't blame them. Not at all.
Mastocytosis/Mast Cell Activation Disease affects every aspect of human life. There's no square inch it doesn't attempt to claim. To make matters worse, there's no cure, so it's a disease without much hope. Outside of Jesus, anyway.
And let's face it, Jesus causes trouble wherever he goes.
I thought I'd address a few of the comments made, not because I believe the people who made them will read my response but because you may need to. Some of the questions the comments imply may resonate with you.
And deep down, who doesn't love a good Facebook debate?
"I can't believe I wasted time reading this"
As someone who has battled MCAD, this comment translated as, "I came here looking for real hope, and you gave me a fairy tale." Do you feel the despair in that? Doesn't your heart break just a little? Mine does.
Jesus slayed the ultimate dragon when he gave his life on the cross. His life was for us, and His life makes us whole. In mind, body, and spirit. God is on mission to redeem it all.
I agree--"wording is everything"--though even the best of us get it wrong from time to time. But the careful reader will notice I never used the word "cure" in my story. Rather, I spoke of healing. Why? Because I want to be clear. While medication, diet, and lifestyle modifications helped, these things did not end my disease. Jesus did. He healed me.
"I'd like to give my view on this as an atheist (and I know a lot of you are already placing labels on me for using that word, but please do not prejudge). I do not believe in prayer or a supreme deity that has the ability to heal us....but...I do believe that prayer can certainly be viewed as a form of meditation and there has been verifiable scientific study done on the effects that meditation has on the body. The most recent National Geographic has an article on the mind body effects of being in nature...scientific data. Including changes in EEG brain waves and drastic reduction in cortisol levels in the body. Doctors are actually writing "prescriptions" to patients to spend time in a natural setting for healing purposes. From my own personal experience, I can slow my heart rate purely by relaxing my body (I suffer from SVTs) and to some extent slow the progression of Mast Cell attacks the same way. This has been seen by multiple ER docs while I was hooked up to monitors. Then there is the whole epigenetics issue. Scientists have shown that these switches can flip back and forth quickly to stimuli and rapidly affect how our body reacts...or over reacts. She is not claiming to have been healed overnight. Nor did she do nothing but pray, she also modified her diet and tried other avenues of improving her symptoms. I believe placing this is the realm of religion is what is bothering some of you, but if you look deeper and place what she is saying in a more scientific framework, maybe you can understand better..."
I appreciate this person for coming to my defense. Truly. She was kind when others were not. Elsewhere, she chastened those who left--in her words--"incredibly rude comments," some of which were deleted by the moderator. That being said, we aren't on the same page.
2015 was a rough year for me. Though I continued to lean into the Lord day after day, my thoughts weren't always positive. During the weeks before I was healed, I struggled with restlessness, guilt, anxiety, and shame. I was tired, beaten to a pulp by this monster of a disease. My mind did not heal itself. Jesus healed me.
"I always have to wonder, if you are "cured", perhaps the diagnosis was incorrect all along."
I expected this one from the beginning. Before Jesus healed me, I told Brandon and my mom that when He did it, people will say I never had the disease. People tend to reject what they don't understand.
But MCAD isn't a diagnosis doctors toss to the masses like beads and candy at a Mardi Gras parade. It's difficult to obtain, which is why I had to travel all the way to Minnesota to get it.
While I'm sure God had more purposes for my Mayo Clinic adventure than I can imagine, I understand at least two--Gastrocrom (a medication which allowed me to eat without absolute misery) and that diagnosis. He wants the world to know no disease is incurable when it comes to Him.
"I'm happy for you Melissa. It seems like your body has calmed down by making nutritional changes. The jury is still out on mast cell disorders, so thinking positive is a good thing. My fear however would be that your overzealous claiming of healing might turn around and bite you - should you regress, relapse, get triggered again etc. I've seen many women in this group already speak of going years "ok" than not ok. For me, EVERYTIME I have gone there - psychologically, emotionally etc and believed "I'm completely better now!" Or "I'm finally coming out of this!" --WHAM. I've been sent back to reality. So I learned to be "cautiously optimistic" and to speak about "improvement" and not black or white declarations that only kick my ass later. Just my share/2 cents. Mast cell (so far) keeps me humble."
I totally understand the warning. I've been in remission. And yes--I thought I was better, then BAM! But this isn't remission. I'm healed. Thank you, Jesus!
"I am taking this with a grain of salt..be careful with the word "cure." Glad you feel better..please be respectful of all here. Religion, politics cross over many people's comfort level. And seems to imply we are all in the same boat and all able to pray our way to wellness. That is simply not the case. And can lead to blaming those who don't believe to the degree you do or in your religion. Makes me squirm a bit...got my armor on for the replies with this one..I will remove this post if the comments become attacks or too controversial."
Writers, to publish is to give readers permission to quote things you never said and infer meaning you never intended.
Now let's discuss the idea of "pray(ing) our way to wellness..."
If anyone could've earned healing by faith, prayer, or specialness, it would've been Jenny.
Before her, I'd never encountered such indomitable faith. Oh, how she loved our Lord! How she sought Him! She was humble enough to seek prayer wherever she went. Churches, communities, and even Dodie Osteen prayed for her healing. Until a few weeks before her death, Jenny believed she would live. Not hoped. Believed.
The woman was so magnetic that people sense her pull in photos. People who didn't want to like her couldn't help themselves. Few love others like she did. She was often the sickest person in the waiting room at MD Anderson, yet she stopped and prayed for people every visit. People who got to live. Before she let hospice put her into an induced coma, she prayed for and blessed everyone at her bedside. She sent me a goodbye text telling me how much she loved me. Jenny went out thinking of and serving others.
If we could achieve our own wellness, Jenny would've been here to celebrate her daughter's fourth birthday four days ago. But after two years of intense suffering, she died.
Did I survive because I'm so much better than her? Because my faith is stronger? Absolutely not. And if my prayers achieved all that, Jenny would still be here.
This commenter didn't need her armor. She got no argument from me.
Healing can't be earned. It can only be received.
"I am glad you are doing better, but to claim that God healed you leaves a lot of Christian people who are dealing with the same thing out. I find it distasteful that God would pick and choose you and leave everyone else to suffer. I think there are are too many variables to leave it to "God fixing everything".... Could have been shots finally registered in your system after all that time, anxiety dying down after postpartum time frames end, allowing you belly time to heal after a severe infection.... Ect.... Too many variables to leave it at "God chose to heal me over everyone else."
This commenter doesn't understand my God. And frankly, I don't either.
Human inclination is to fear what we can't control and to dismiss what we don't understand.
We can't control God, nor can we understand him. So we fear and dismiss him. We explain him away.
And guess what--I've done it, too.
I have no idea why I lived and Jenny died. I have no idea why some are healed and others suffer all their lives. But that doesn't mean God didn't heal me. And it doesn't mean He doesn't want to heal others.
Truth be told, these thoughts aren't all that unrelated to some of my own, which have led to questions. Lots and lots of questions:
- Did Jesus ever turn anyone away in the gospels? Did He ever say, "No, I'm not going to heal you. It's my will for you to be sick. Your illness brings me glory?"
- Does illness bring glory to God? OR is it possible to suffer with something that doesn't glorify God in such a way that God is glorified anyway? Isn't that kind of the spirit of Romans 8:37?
- Does God send illness? Is sickness of God? Or does the enemy send sickness and then God uses it for His own purposes with the intention of drawing us to Himself and with a heart to deliver us from it and all lesser loves?
- Does God want us to cuddle our sickness and hold onto suffering because He worked it for good in our lives? Do we need sickness to maintain our sanctification? Should we? Or do we just need Jesus?
- Is sickness the best way to experience the nearness of God? If so, what does that say about the saints in the Bible? They weren't sick. Are sickness and pain the only ways to cultivate humility and dependence?
- Can we best fulfill the Great Commission when we ourselves are sick?
- If it was God's will for people to be sick, wouldn't Jesus have been going against God's will by healing them? Wouldn't we be going against God's will every time we prayed for healing?
- In Scripture, Jesus doesn't only heal believers. Many he healed weren't believers when he healed them. Some left him, healing in hand, without a thank you. So what does it mean that He didn't do many mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matt. 13:58; Mark 6:5,6)? What role does faith play?
- The mission stated over and over again in the Gospels is to preach the gospel and heal the sick. Preach the gospel and heal the sick. Preach the gospel and heal the sick. When Jesus sent out the twelve, he told them, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). This doesn't sound like a pick and choose kind of God. So what's the deal?
- Could the gap between what we see in Scripture and our experience be our fault? As in the fault of the Church? If so, what does this say about our will versus God's will? If not, does the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever carry out his will differently now than he did in the first century?
Notice I have all these fabulous questions and no easy answers. I can't offer a satisfactory response to any of them because God is mystery. But here's what I make of my experience with the information I have at this time:
God did not send my sickness. Neither did He waste it. God used my physical sickness to rescue me from sickness of mind, body, and spirit. My sickness was the fastest, most efficient way for God to do this and make me usable. My sickness did not glorify God; I glorified God by leaning into Him through it. God never smiled at my pain; He smiled at what I did with it.
The enemy sent my illness and used it to try and kill me. Again and again and again. He did this because I'm dangerous. He failed because God didn't allow it. God is sovereign.
And yet other dangerous, usable people die. I don't know what this means. But I do know God is sovereign. He is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:10). Not a moment of this storm was outside of his perfect control, and his character and attributes do not change with circumstance.
God healed me. God used prayer to heal me. My healing would not have happened outside of persistent, fervent, expectant prayer. My prayers. Prayers of family, friends, and elders. The prayers of many.
These prayers kept me alive, kept me close to Jesus, and helped me navigate the path laid out for me. The path led me to a group of people who operate in the Spirit of God. They saw my plight, had compassion, and rescued me through more fervent prayer. They had faith for me when I didn't have it for myself. Enough faith for me to expect something to happen.
My healing was intrinsically tied to deliverance, which was brought about in a personal prayer session (Sozo), a ministry of the group mentioned above.
My healing glorified God. My liberation unleashed more of the Holy Spirit into the world. Now whole and operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, I can better fulfill the mission--preach the gospel, heal the sick and brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, help the blind to see, liberate the oppressed, cast out demons, raise the dead. Make disciples. Make disciple-making disciples.
I'm called to give as freely as it has been given to me. Which, you gotta admit, has been pretty freely, so I best be serious about this, yo.
The miraculous bolsters faith in the miraculous. My prayers are not what they once were because I now believe in the impossible. I ask for impossible things. I believe for impossible things. The impossible has become my new normal.
I know that not everyone I pray for will be healed and delivered, but what do I lose by praying? What do I lose? Time? Energy? Who cares? I get God! Even when the miracle doesn't come. And now that I know it might, by the grace of God I'll never stop asking.
I want to do this thing in such a way that if I'm wrong I'll be the most pitiful fool who ever walked the earth and when I see my Jesus face to face I'll have nothing to regret. And who knows? Maybe one day I'll get to see God do something REALLY cool like raise somebody from the dead!
So yeah...that's where I stand. At the moment, anyway.
Now that I've closed my most recent Facebook debate, let a new one begin. And in the spirit of full disclosure, if you comment, especially if that comment is nasty or despondent, you'll be put on a list and prayed for. You've been warned.
Some are a life sentence.
Which is easier to bear?
A small cell or the chair?
A cage or a casket?
No one knows
and both are hard
on the sick one and the watchers.
Some of us die in here,
but I believe
there is a key
an early release.
Or so I've been told
by the Prison Ward
who is kind and good and wise and hard.
The door will open
when the cell has done its work
and the bars have made me free.
Or so I believe.
But all I see
are steel and concrete.
Spare walls and a lonely lock
mock my faith.
I smell sky and pine.
Sun shafts through the window.
Voices chuckle and cluck,
a murmur through stone,
a reminder of what I'm missing,
a promise of what's to come.
But the Warden visits me--
and this place has be-come
"For a while," He corrects.
So I believe.
These days I'm either enjoying my freedom or recovering from it.
I'm not complaining. I'm adjusting.
I LOVE the season I'm in, but it isn't easy.
God has given a magic thread to every believer. His name is the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit knows the mind of the Father, who has written my story. He leads me where I should go. Many times, I don't understand where He leads, but if I will hang on and press on, I'll find my way. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to lead a Curdie or two to the safety of God's arms along the way.
I appreciate your prayers as I adjust.
I'm so happy right now. It may seem I don't need prayer. That assumption is incorrect.
I have so many questions. I don't know where the thread is taking me, and my feet are dragging half the time. I long to write, but can't manage it, which is kind of frustrating. As I'm able to focus less on myself, my eyes open to the devastation around me. While the miracle does my family good, the last four years have also left a mark. We're all kind of damaged, and now it's time to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Reconstruction is hard work.
So yeah...keep praying! And thank you for all the prayers that have come before. I hope you, too, are reveling in the miracle God has performed. You're part of it, after all. I hope it reveals an attribute of God you never noticed before, and leads you to marvel before His throne.
As I said to a friend this morning, prayer is never wasted time. And it's the perfect answer to every adjustment life throws at us.