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All Things are Yours

"… whether Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life, death, the present, or the future— all things are yours, but you are Christ's…" (I Cor 3)

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faith over fear

Faith Over Fear, part 2

That summer I was 21, going on 22, and I had found an opportunity to serve as a program leader and summer camp counselor at a Christian camp just outside of Allentown, PA.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Lyme disease at the time but I knew it was caused by tick bites and that it had been spreading a lot in the area. So I was cautious: I stayed on the paths, I didn’t go walking through underbrush or sit in tall grasses, and directed the kiddos (and myself) to regularly check for ticks.

My fellow camp counselors found my caution to be insufferable. They regularly jabbed me with platitudes about needing to “trust God” more and finally, they got to me. One weekend afternoon after the camp was empty of children for the week, everyone wanted to play hide-and-seek in the woods. The desire to fit in with the other staff my age was too loud. I decided that they were right, I probably should just “trust God” with this whole Lyme disease thing and live a little.

I laid down in the underbrush and leaves to hide. I did a good job — after a half hour, no one had found me.


The next day I felt feverish. I had a weird rash of clustered dots all over my legs. The camp nurse said it wasn’t anything she had seen before and certainly wasn’t Lyme disease. In the days that followed, I started feeling super exhausted. I slept 8 hours a night and felt like I hadn’t slept at all. I couldn’t do my job. On the weekend, I couldn’t hang out with anyone and be part of the gang. My neck was sore. I started getting unrelenting frontal headaches not solved by any amount of prayer, rebuking the enemy, or ultimately even any amount of Tylenol. I thought of going to the doctor but I was sure I was just experiencing some attack of the enemy. And I had come to the conclusion that doctors were for people who didn’t have faith. I wasn’t sure God even would allow me to go to a doctor; I was sure He wanted me to turn to Him instead.

One day I was taking a shower and realized my leg was hot and itchy. I looked down and saw this huge red puffy area on my leg. I got an even better look and discovered it was a circular round red puffy area the size of my hand, with a purple center. I wondered if it could possibly be Lyme disease and this is hard to describe but I will try: I felt this overwhelming glowing peace envelope me from within and without. I thought then about going to the doctor and the light and peace now glowing all through me seemed to smile at me. I knew this was God’s presence and I was shocked that He seemed to agree I should go to the doctor. I thought about getting a blood test and the glowing peaceful agreement continued.

Sure enough, I had Lyme disease. And being enboldened by my Holy Spirit encounter, I was able to break with my earlier condemnation about medical science and actually take the month of doxycycline antibiotic that was prescribed to me.

It turned out I could trust God — as He broke through my religious ideas and instead assured me that medical care was a good idea. But my earlier, wrong-headed “trusting God” to keep me from getting bit by a tick or contracting a lifelong disease, that had turned into what could have been a huge disaster. He did not protect me from the immediate ramifications of failing to protect myself. A tick had bit me and given me its diseased payload. But because He was merciful to me in my foolishness, thankfully I was able to tackle the acute phase appropriately and quickly, even though I still had years of low-level chronic remaining issues to resolve. Still, Lyme left untreated in the first phase can turn into a completely debilitating illness for years and years and I was mercifully somehow spared that.

This was the second time I learned that trusting God didn’t mean what I thought it did. It didn’t mean failing to recognize real dangers in the world and avoiding the knowledge and usefulness of medical science. In both cases, trusting God meant overcoming the fake “faith” offered by my legalistic mindset, and coming to a real faith in God who wasn’t being as “magical” as I wanted him to be about my problems, but who wanted me to deal in down-to-Earth terms with real life material-world issues and material solutions. God as I was encountering Him seemed concerned directly about how the universe and the natural world actually work.

There are more stories. Stay tuned. Here’s the previous one.

That Time I Did “Faith Over Fear” – part 1

I was 18 and I was sitting in the dentist’s office when the dentist said something I couldn’t accept: “Your wisdom teeth are coming in sideways and you need to have them removed.”

This was an insane thing in my mind. God gave me wisdom teeth. Surely He didn’t intend for them to be removed, like some medical rite of passage, before they had even showed up fully in my mouth. This was terribly “unnatural” and if I knew anything, I knew that natural was the way things ought to be.

I argued with the dentist.

The dentist explained, “If your wisdom teeth keep growing in at this angle, they will grow into the roots of the teeth next to them, and they will kill those teeth too.”

In that moment, in huge contrast to my own emotions of umbrage towards the dentist, I felt the peace of the Holy Spirit, as if the Spirit was gently indicating to me He agreed with what the dentist said. I couldn’t believe that either. Truth be told, I didn’t want to believe it. God was supposed to be on the side of natural things, not on the side of the medical establishment that wanted to unnaturally and invasively alter my body and remove my precious new teeth.

I left the dentist’s office having zero plans to see an oral surgeon and have these teeth removed.

Years later, my front teeth were all jammed together and twisted from the wisdom teeth pushing all my teeth into each other. A roommate tried to explain to me, in terms that to her were said so carefully but to me felt so rude, “You know, you’d be so pretty if only you’d get braces.” She didn’t know that my teeth had not always been like that, nor that there was a reason they were like that now.

Eventually I did get those wisdom teeth removed. The decade I had spent having “faith,” praying for my teeth to “align” and become straight, had only served to show me that there was such a thing as cause and effect after all, and spiritual things didn’t usually alter that reality.

And after my wisdom teeth were removed, I had to have another molar removed too. The pressure of the wisdom tooth up against it had caused it to absorb itself from the inside out, in something called, “spontaneous resorption.” I tried in vain to save the tooth first with a giant filling, then a root canal, but after a terrible abscess that was the worst pain in my life, that one had to come out too. Somehow the evil dentist had turned out to be more “right” than my wrongly placed “faith.”

I liked to think I was listening to the Holy Spirit. But I wasn’t. I still remember that moment when I actually encountered the Holy Spirit, and could have put my faith in the leading he was giving me to do the science thing. But I wasn’t ready, and made up a “faith” in what my own religious inclinations told me was right — a passion for what was “natural” over what was truly sensible.

I have more of these stories of learning hard truths from the effects my own foolish stubbornness, that have greatly shaped my journey. It seems the season to share. Stay tuned.

Update: Here is the next story in this series: Faith over Fear, part 2.

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