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Thursday, December 8, 2011

No Matter What

So on the spiritual front, things have been pretty extreme lately.  Not bad, per se, just challenging.  God's been growing me and growth is painful.

For starters, since Thanksgiving my asthma has been flaring up.  I cough; I have difficulty breathing.  At the end of the day I am exhausted from a day full of shallow breathing but can't sleep because I can't stop coughing.  It's awful.  My emergency inhaler is offering little to no relief.  I remember that this happened last year at the very same time and I went to the doctor a few days after Christmas to get back on Advair.  I don't like Advair or any of the other regulating steroids prescribed for asthma.  If you choose to take it I'm not judging; they just have some long term effects that make me shudder.  Still, I need to breathe, so I've almost called up my D.O. several times.  When it comes time to pick up the phone, though, I feel a Holy Spirit nudge to put the phone down.

I think God wants to heal my asthma.  Not just temporarily relieve the symptoms, but actually take the condition away from me entirely.  And I think He wants to do it on faith alone, no interventions either traditional or holistic.  I rejoice in this revelation.  When it came down to praying on it, though, God opened up a whole can of worms in my spirit that we needed to address.  Because I believe in healing.  Radical, miraculous faith healing that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit and the holy name of Jesus Christ.  It would be really strange if I didn't considering how many times I saw God lift my son out of illness and medically certain death.   But I find that, since Eddie's death, doubt and disbelief have invaded my spirit like a cancer, stealthily and without my even realizing it.

I've been praying for healing, but it is with this internal shrug like, "Well, I'm praying for it but I realize it's probably not something you really want to do."  That is nothing but disbelief clothed as acceptance, a wolf in sheep's clothing.  I started reading a book by Bill Johnson (love it, by the way) that a friend gave to me.  Not five pages into this thing, I'm reading about a radical healing miracle, where God re-grew a man's bone in his leg and healed cancer in his neck.  I burst into tears.  I believe, I know, God did that and does other things like it all of the time.  I believe that the miraculous should be common place among followers of Christ.  But it hurts.  Because at the end of the day, Eddie did not receive a new liver.  His small intestine didn't grow a few feet and start absorbing nutrition.  He's not sitting in my lap right now as a living testimony to the healing power of Christ.  And that really, really hurts.

So I've been avoiding the pain.  I don't go to churches where they lay hands on people as a matter of course. I don't pray the Holy Spirit down on my family when they are ill; I just say a perfunctory "Please God touch and heal {insert name here} in the name of Jesus Christ, by whose stripes we are healed" and then wait for the virus to take its course.  I'm embarrassed to admit that, but it's true.  I pray for my kids but I don't believe anything out of the ordinary is going to take place after I do so.  They haven't had any crazy, life-threatening stuff (thank you, Lord) so it's been easy to be in mediocre belief for their health.

God doesn't want my faith to reside in mediocrity.  I know that.  So I kept reading.  I kept crying.  I kept throwing myself on the mercy of God.  This is spiritual warfare and my battle cry became the cry of the father in Mark 9:24 who shouted out to Christ, "I believe!  Help my unbelief!"  I began to pray in earnest over my lungs, crying down the power of heaven into my circumstances, standing on God's healing promises, feeling His power enter into my body, physically, like a fire raging through me.  I haven't prayed like this since my baby died and it was hard and done with weeping, both of gratitude and pain.  It was like God was entering into me, searing me with Holy Fire, cauterizing the gaping wounds that I didn't even know were there.  Every time I prayed like this, my lungs would open and I would breathe.  By that night, though, the symptoms would be back.

I accepted it.  I accepted that God was working something so much more powerful in me than just a simple physical healing so, although it is inconvenient and uncomfortable, I'm bearing with it.  I'm praying on it.  I'm believing on it because He said He wants to heal this so HE IS GOING TO.  I don't have to know what the hold up is.  I can believe and accept that His timing is perfect and going to bring about even more growth, more glory.

It was with this mindset that I went to Sojourn church this past Wednesday morning.  There is a ladies group  there that I love to meet with whenever I can.  They love the Lord so much and lift each other up in Him so powerfully.  I knew there would be women there who would lay hands on me and pray, so I went with the intention of asking for prayer, of receiving.  As soon as I walked through the doors of the prayer room, though, I heard a conversation going on between two women about healing.  About what does it mean when you pray for the healing, when you believe, and when you don't receive.  At first I was just going to sit and listen, thinking God had a word for me from these two women.  Then God spoke to my Spirit and told me to get in there.  So I joined the conversation.

Something miraculous happened.  All of a sudden, God began to pour out of me from all that He has been pouring into me over the past week.  Words began coming out of my mouth, words of faith, words of comfort, words of Truth.  He wasn't only speaking to this woman who needed to hear what He had to say, He was speaking to me through me.  It was a rather out-of-body experience.  What she needed to hear and I needed to reiterate is that God is good no matter what.  If He seems to be withholding something it is not because He is mean, unloving, or doesn't care.  It isn't because we aren't praying right or believing enough.  It is because He wills something so much greater for us than the thing we are asking for.  It is because He loves us too much to grant our request.  She said she just needed to see the Hand of God in her situation, that she needed His hand, and I was able to say with all confidence, "No, you don't, you only need His Presence."  I told her if I had been healed of asthma this week, I would not have been positioned to talk to her and that I was grateful that God had placed me in her life that morning, exactly as I was, dealing with the same issues and able to share His Truth.

Bill Johnson talks about "thy kingdom come" being about calling the power of heaven down to earth and thereby performing miracles in His name.  I believe that.  He is speaking Truth.  It is also truth that the next line is "thy will be done."  So if you have asked for His intervention and you do not receive, you can still trust that there is something greater in the works for you.  Our will is hopelessly flawed; His is infinitely good.  What I shared yesterday and what I believe, totally, completely, and with my whole heart, mind, and spirit is that God is good no matter what.  All the time.  He loves us all the time, in every circumstance, in every affliction, in every trial.

It is God's will that I be miraculously healed from asthma.  I know this because He told me so.  It was also His will that Eddie die on that early Saturday morning in August 2007.  I don't know all the reasons and I don't need to.  I believe that it was for a greater good, not just for others but for me as well, because God only loves me.  This much I do know:  because Eddie died, I am positioned to be a light to people who prayed and lost.  Who believed and then suffered.  I am able to speak about the amazing, overwhelming goodness of God from a position of strength because I have been there.  I know that this has great value and enables me to serve my Lord in a radical, wonderful way that brings me great joy.  I know I have peace, I know I am beloved, and I know I have a grateful heart.  I know I have a little boy waiting for me who will be pleased that I took the gift that was his life and held it up as a beacon of God's love.  So, I'm going to wait on the Lord, not in impatience, not with an entitlement attitude, not in fear, but in grateful expectancy of how He is going to shower me with love.  I'm going to praise Him for sealing up those cracks in my faith, those wounds of disbelief, through whatever means was necessary.

After my powerful, Spirit-filled morning on Wednesday, I promptly developed food poisoning.  I know what this is.  It's the enemy's pathetic attempt to make me throw my hands in the air, disavow everything I just told that woman, and go back to an attitude of, "Really, God?  Seriously?"  It didn't work.  I laughed at satan and told him how pathetic he was.  That disbelief had no power over me.  I praised God for an excuse to be still and spend time with Him.  Don't get me wrong; physically I felt like death warmed over.  But it has passed and because of it I spent hours with God that I otherwise would have spent in business.  What satan meant for evil, God used for good, because I trust Him.  No matter what.  And that is all I need to do.

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