I love movies, but I genuinely fear they distort our reality. Movies have conditioned us to almost always expect good things to fall into place at the precisely right time for the good guys in our films. In reality we rarely see things happen at the point we consider to be the right time. However, things do (or sometimes do not) always happen exactly at the right time. The thing is it is not our definition of right timing that we receive in life but instead God’s definition timing. When I sought healing at a praise and worship night where 20 people laid hands on me and prayed for my healing anyone watching a movie of my life would probably say, “Surely this is the moment his healing comes!”. It seemed right in my eyes, as the book of Judges may put it. But my perspective, just like yours, is trivial when compared to God, and our eyes can rarely see the right timing for things to be done when we pray.
I have a passion for prayer which I practice often since I’ve been working on making it a continual habit. A habit i picked up while reading Practice the Presence of God by the monk Brother Lawrence, which was written a few hundred years ago. I try, like many other Christians to not make my prayers a self-centered wish list for things like money, fame, security, and success. The Church, my Christian community, and more often than not I often like to remind believers that God’s will is not for us to just be healthy, wealthy and cozy. God calls us to live a life of self-sacrifice and service where we are loving to our enemies, serving the orphan, alien, and widow and most of all realizing that his will for us is to be like his son Jesus. With this all being said, we all know but commonly seem to ignore the fact that it’s okay to have need and to be honest I do have what I consider one. I have been in a place of need for the last few years or so that I keep fairly well hidden. Amongst a few other things I struggle with in private, only a handful of people know I suffer from extreme back, neck, and shoulder pain. Throughout almost every hour there is some small or large dose of joint point and tension that eats away at me. I often wake up with my joints and body aching and I must use a foam roller on my back every morning in order to walk to class, and every night before getting in bed I use it so that I can sleep. I pray often for healing, but I remember that God’s will is better than my own.
Now let’s get back to the night in question. I went to an event in the beginning of this January called Carry the Love, at UNC Wilmington. The event was put on by a group called Circuit Riders who have close ties to the Christian organization YWAM. As someone who runs in a mix of Christian circles and culture, I have developed a small but rational distaste of hyper-spiritualism in the church. My definition of “hyper-Spirituals’ is a Christian who overemphasizes emotions, spiritual gifts and at times underemphasizes the importance of the bible. A fair share of people suspected Carry The Love might be a hyper spiritual event. Still I went to it, eager to worship with fellow believers, but also with a mind of caution to listen closely to every word that was proclaimed. I did this but also prioritized being open to the Holy Spirit. About an hour into the event they asked the audience if anyone wanted to receive prayer for healing and I raised my hand in reply. I told God (repeatedly), “Lord, let me only receive your spirit, if it’s your will Lord, please I would like to be healed. Do not let my sinful will keep me from healing but also do not let it forsake you for a healing either”. Maybe the prayer wasn’t that neat or elaborate, but you get the point, I felt passionate yet convicted.
Miraculous faith healing is a fun and controversial topic for Christians and I only want to dip my toes into the deep pool of Christian debate on the top. I have studied the Apostolic gifts a fair share and I’m very skeptical of people who dole them out like commodities whom I often refer to as Hyper-spiritualized Christians. I would however still say I lean closer to being a continualist. A simpler English translation for those of you who don’t read The Gospel Coalition nor Desiring God articles at midnight like me, the apostolic gifts in a nut shell are things like the Holy Spirit giving us the ability to heal the sick, pray in various languages (tongues) and prophecy. Continualist believe these gifts continue into today and cessationist believe more or less that they have mostly ceased. Really original names huh? I do not have the time to write and I doubt you have the patience to read the number of things I would have to write to really cover this topic. Also, I am certainly very unqualified to do so at this point in my walk with God. So, for this case I will put this in basics: I thought it was possible by faith that I would be healed that night, but I did not demand it.
The few minutes that I received prayer during, were without a doubt beautiful. A mixture of ethnically diverse, male, and female students poured out love and prayer over me to be healed. Two other people received prayer that night, and both testified to their healing while I did not. I felt encouraged and loved by the community of believers around me, but not healed so I did not testify. However not I want to testify the truth. God is good, if he heals me or not, and his plans are better than mine.
I like to joke that God is not our fun and little trick pony, we are not the people of Pawnee and he is not Li’l Sebastian. To paraphrase one of my church’s pastors, Ethan Welch put it at The Bridge Church, “Jesus is our King, and not our butler.”. This reminds me that God doesn’t have to prove himself to us by jumping through our hoops and doing our will. But with that being said, it is okay to ask him for things like healing. Tim Keller once said, “The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 for a glass of water is a child of that king. We have that kind of access to God.” God wants to provide for us and he is willing to. I can take confidence in the fact that God the Father does not withhold good from us, so I trust the Lord’s has plans for me and that my physical health isn’t going to get in God’s way. I am willing to sacrifice my health like Jesus Christ in this small way as long as the Lord may will it.
Closing thoughts:….…….. (yeah I’d read it)
A last point that I want to make is that I did not mention Carry the Love to be petty nor to put them down in anyway. Though I am pretty petty person, I want it to be clear that I am championing how they created an atmosphere of prayer that encouraged people to pray bold prayers and seek God. So, may God bless them, and I hope those who were healed rejoice and praise the lord in their healing. I have had two close friends go on YWAM and I have a few good friends who helped host Carry The Love on campus.
Other than that, this being my first piece I want to inform my readers that I plan to use more scripture in my pieces, and that I didn’t feel like looking up scriptures for this post knowing that I would risk eisegeses. So sufficient to say, God’s healing when we desire it isn’t always what we should ask for, look at Hezekiah. Then, look at Jesus, he asked God to take the incoming cup of wrath from him if he could, but he still went on and died on the cross for us all. May this piece be a testimony to the goodness of God and not a boast in my holiness in any ways. I assure you, I am quite the sinner who is loved by an amazing God!