A decade ago (or thereabouts) some brothers met me at the altar of the church I once pastored and prayed for a healing in my life. A saint who pastored me was present on that Sunday morning and suddenly had a ‘word’ he felt compelled to share:
Scott, when your healing comes it won’t be based on your faith but through the faith of others.”
Fast-forward to last month, roughly a decade later.
I was in the throes of one of my most mystifying physical trials in a long history of afflictions, mostly known and often avoidable, the first clues of which manifested the week of Christmas. Starting with sudden – I’ll take care not to overshare here – gastric discomfort then sharp, stabbing pains down my left side, I reckoned I might be joining the ranks of gluten and/or dairy allergy unfortunates and thusly changed my diet posthaste.
Alas, there was near-immediate relief. For a week.
It’s return came with medieval unkindness; there was non-stop nausea, intestinal, ah, belligerence and that infernal left-side pain. After a date night with my beloved I went straight home and to bed. For the next two months I was homebound, bed-ridden and pathetically infirm. Only Sandy and I will ever know the hopeless existence that commenced and emanated from that bedroom. I couldn’t lift a cup to my lips the pain was so great. I could barely tolerate food. Dry-heaving became my frienemy throughout the ordeal. Turn me to change the bed’s draw sheets? Forget it. I couldn’t. Just…couldn’t.
Sandy had to wait on me, hand and foot, week after arduous week, for which she NEVER, EVER complained.
Let’s hear it for the Sange:
Here’s what you might be thinking (unless you’re still distracted by Ryan Gosling in a tux, ladies):
Boy, Scott, I’ll bet your bedroom was a holy of holies and your bed the mercy seat whereupon you lay suspended between the cherubim, earth and glory. Certainly you floated above us all in rarefied air.
It’d sure be cool to spin my story that way, let me tell you, but most days I felt like I was this guy:
Day turned into night, night labored till dawn, day after day, the same drab and hopeless scene stretched before me, leaving my soul rasping and gasping and bereft. If I lay utterly still the hours were tolerable but woe was me if I had to shift in bed even a few inches. The doctors were befuddled. There were CT scans, ultrasounds, upper endoscopies, colonoscopies, blood and stool tests. Each revealed nothing except mounting bills. Hope hardened and Heaven seemed light years removed. Worship eluded me. I wasn’t mad at God – far, far from it! I don’t believe I even once doubted His goodness. What I did doubt was healing, so began processing what life might look like as a bedridden saint. Frankly, I’d rather I just died.
So, no, no holy place and no ascending incense. I did sense some winged creatures hovering most days, but more in line with:
So, yeah, you get the idea.
Ministering priests began to tromp around on the temple grounds one day in very late February. When Hope seemed bleakest, my priests began stoking the fires, laying the coals of infused incense, offering the breads on the altar, running the oil to the lamp stand, and presented their prayers befor the Lord. Yes, many intercessions had been offered up for me but in one concentrated 24-hr period it was exponential. Texts, voice mails, notes, tweets, direct messages – whatever mediums were available – were laid as my mercy seat upon which the Christ of Comfort took His seat for me, and from which His healing power flowed to my bed of affliction.
There’s a miracle story that Dr. Luke weaves into his gospel tapestry that fits well here.
Seems there was a paralyzed man who needed Jesus’ redemptive touch. He obviously had friends who cared about him for we find their faith in its creative zenith as they Mapquested™ Simon Peter’s address and four-man lifted and carried their disabled friend to his front door in the village of Capernaum. They’d heard Jesus was holding court and believed their friend had a shot if they could only get him near to the Healing Man.
Big obstacle. The house was crowded. Even the overflow rooms were packed. What to do, what to do?
They eyed an outer staircase that led to the roof.
Why not, they thought.
Removing tiles, whether thatch or true tiles, they created an opening just wide enough to lower their buddy to a sliver of space at the feet of the Son of Man. I’m sure Jesus stopped in mid-sermon when He heard the overhead commotion and looked up. I’ll bet a smile widened on His face as the Father revealed His plan to Him in that moment.
“You will heal this man, spirit, soul and body, My Son,” He heard.
Yay! And it’s the Sabbath, and there’s an entourage of Pharisees sitting here! Even better!
(I’m sure Jesus was truly jazzed, because, well, Pharisees…)
Luke is careful to report that Jesus was moved by the faith of this pathetic man’s friends. Just so, I only had a spittle cup’s worth of hope for my own healing, but God blessed me with an army of ministering priests who showed up together and carried me to the mercy-seat of Jesus, believing as one that there was Gospel Hope for me.
Within 24 hours of this prayer barrage, I had no more debilitating pain.
I could turn myself.
I could bathe myself.
I could dress myself.
No doctors, no medicine, no therapy.
This miracle is solely attributable to Jehovah-Rapha, my Healer.
A friend recently asked me about that decade-ago exchange, about my healing coming based on the faith of others not my own. She asked if I thought this was that. I don’t know, quite honestly. If it isn’t, it’s enough. More than! Whatever God decides, I’m at peace with it. But somehow I believe an even greater healing is coming. Henceforth, I’m waiting for some friends to call me someday and say:
Scott, how do you feel about rooftops?”