It was testimony-night at the small church. The roster of individuals who wanted to share grew as the evening progressed. Testimonies such as an addict who’d overcome his addiction overnight and has now remained drug free for over five years. A woman diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball went in for more testing when the doctors, without medical explanation, discovered the tumor had disappeared. The reuniting of a praying parent and a prodigal child who found the Lord. Profound testimonies to the glory of God!
And then there were these demonstrations, the ones that confounded me. Their surrender to the Lord brought tears. An act of love, of letting go of their own desires. Of saying, “Not my will, but thine Lord Jesus!” A man in a wheelchair who the Lord spoke to promising he’d walk again. Twelve years had passed since the accident, and yet he still rolled rather than walked. The Lord helped him through discouragement and taught him how to wait with patience and hope. He has peace in the waiting. A woman who had a slew of afflictions, one after the other, and toxic relationships, and she’d learned to manage her life better and make better choices with diet and lifestyle. She witnessed you can’t always control every circumstance or even people, but you can control your response or reaction. Be faithful in the things you can control, beginning with the choices you can make right now. Another woman presented like a modern-day Job. Her house flooded, then it burned down; she lost her job, got divorced from an abusive man, went bankrupt, survived cancer, lost one of her children... What could she possibly be grateful for? And yet she was exuberant with divine joy.
The one most memorable for me was of a middle-aged man who’d lived a hard and promiscuous life. He’d contracted an STD and learned to live with it (also to speak frankly about it, which took admirable courage). Had once known the Lord, but wandered astray through temptations of the flesh in a hard-to-flee-from environment. When he returned and got anchored in the faith, he’d begged God to heal him of his disease so he could marry a godly woman. He determined he couldn’t marry until God healed him, as he wanted to present himself to the woman God had for him without the shame he carried, explaining that each flare-up was like a knife-stab reminder of the poor choices of his past. He also didn’t want to pass that on. God hadn’t healed him, and yet there he was, standing side-by-side with a godly woman, his wife, her hand on his arm. She was a pure soul. Hadn’t had the background or experience he’d had; truly an innocent. Yet there she was, devoted, adoring, selfless to him. She knew of his condition, of the risks, and she married him anyway. For the Lord called her—called them together. In fact, they were moving into full-time ministry together. Some might hear that, and if they were in her shoes, think, “Ew, not for me.” But I was really struck by the beauty of it. Still am.
So many distinct stories, conditions, situations and outcomes, and yet one common theme ran among all of them. Gratefulness for what he’s done.
He forgives our sins, makes us citizens of Heaven, giving us our true home, of belonging, unconditional love, a future, a destiny, a purpose. Sometimes he heals us; sometimes he promises to heal us and waits with us until that perfectly timed fruition, and sometimes he chooses not to heal us. And when it’s the latter, he helps us to manage our lives in him—and also can still bring us unexpected blessings from Heaven. He moves often in ways we haven’t considered. Keeps us surprised and delighted. The point is, he’s always there.
When we can lay everything down, let go of our own wishes and expectations, and press in to him… that’s when he fills us and makes us whole. When our spirits are whole, we are whole… no matter what our bodies or circumstances are doing. I love a good story of healing or deliverance. But I admit, it’s that last one, where healing wasn’t necessarily a physical one, yet the love and devotion demonstrated through that couple’s testimony, their marriage and ministry-calling is the one that moved me to write this blog post.