I came to the faith during what I like to think of as the last of the Big Healing Crusade ministries. I cut my spritual teeth doing two things: obsessing about Bible tracts--my favorites were Jack T. Chick's and Faith, Prayer and Tract Leagues! But, I also watched the healing ministries of Peter Popoff, V.W. Grant, Oral Roberts, and Jimmy Swaggert.
I remember those first days of knowing Jesus, when the wind of the Holy Spirit blew mightily, and God could do anything. Anything! No doubts. I believed every thrown down cane or pair of crutches. I made pilgrimages to downtown Detroit with Rita and her grandmother, and we used to go to tapings of the local show, Faith for Miracles, and to Liberty Temple. There were stacks of canes and crutches in the corner at Liberty, a testimony of God's healing power. I had stacks of W.V. Grant's booklets. The masses were being healed.
Well, lets just say that some of these ministries were challenged not too long after I became a Christian. There was the news stories of Robert Tilton and Peter Popoff exposing their frauds and lavish lifestyles. Jim Bakker's affair and imprisonment. Jimmy Swaggerts dirty little secrets, and Oral Roberts telling us God would kill him if we didn't send him millions. I watched my illusions fade just as I was coming into womanhood, and even now, it saddens me when I see what Robert Tilton has become. There he is, older now, grayer, with the same old spiel for money. And then he speaks in tongues and it sounds like, "homina, homina, homina". And I changed the channel.
I've had enough time to think about these things. It's not 1980 any more. I'm older, too. Grayer, and while my spiel has changed, it hasn't changed that much. I woke up the other day, and I could hear that the television in the living room had Peter Popoff on. My 27 year old son and my 32 year old nephew were watching, and nephew was spitting venom, and I was annoyed. He was criticizing the people supporting Popoff, and apparently there was an old woman being "healed." "There it is," I could hear Popoff proclaim. And then my nephew's proclaimations about what a crock that was. "She probably could walk like that anyway". And I lie in my bed, imagining this old. black woman, crippled with arthritis, tossing her walker, and praising the Lord. She'd probably need that walker later. It made me sad.
I stood in a lot of healing lines trying to get rid of Asthma and bad eyesight. In the eighties, in the Word of Faith movement, you were supposed to claim everything, like God was a demanding accountant, and you'd really miss out if you didn't claim everything on your taxes. I still have 20/300 vision, but the Asthma isn't so bad. Fibromyalgia and migraines were a very unpleasant surprise that came later. Don't even make me talk about bipolar disorder.
Anyway, I still ask God for help, but I don't toss my specs. I believe God heals people, and certainly He's always "able", but it's pretty clear that he doesn't do it right away all the time.
I started this blog when I was in the beginnnings of an emotional affair with my first love. That was last Spring. It's been more than a year, and I don't have any contact with Joe anymore. None! But I had this dream about him tonight. We were at my house. I don't know why Ken wasn't in the dream, but he wasn't. And Joe put his arms around me and said, "Let's just be in love here." It was a bad dream.
When I wrote the first blog entry here, it was about Joe. By the fourth entry, I was crying my eyes out as Jesus walked me through a painful incident between us, and I felt so sure I'd been healed. I threw my love for Joe crutches away, and they were stacked in God's corner. I'd never feel any forbidden feelings for him again.
But it wasn't so.
Still, I dream of him. I have asked God to take away any feelings that I have, but they persist. I love my husband, and my life with him, and I wish all thoughts of Joe would disappate. He doesn't deserve the attention I've given him, but he doesn't disappear. I still have him like I have bad eyes and still get asthma attacks if it rains too much. In truth, God did heal me that day, but it was like phase I of the healing. I didn't know I'd still be in spiritual surgery over this more than a year later.
Sometimes, I wonder if God doesn't instantly heal me because I keep going back to Him when I hurt. Or maybe, He sees all the layers of me, and wants me to see for myselves how complicated I am. How truly fearfully and wonderfully made I am. Maybe, He wants to show me that He is there when I awaken and feel terrible, like my heart and brain have betrayed me. Maybe He wants to show me that He will deal with tricky subconscious mind games with the same love in which He cradles me when I wrap my fingers around my inhaler, take a few puffs, breathe, and my lungs begin to expand again. I'm not just breathing albuterol, I'm breathing in grace, and a good measure of healing from God, too.
Sometimes, we get a big miracle. The blind see. The deaf hear. Sometimes the dead rise. Other times, we just walk with God. He soothes us when we ache, catches us when we fall, and lets us know that when we have bad dreams, we'll be okay, and that whatever is happening is not outside of His care and provision. And then we rest, knowing God is with us, God is with us, God is with us. That is healing. It may not be whole--it's healing. The miracle is that God is actually in a relationship with us, and cares.
God cares for us.
I'll take it.