Search

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)

Tag

miracles

On a Scale of 1 to 10….

Some of my friends on FB know that, back in May, I was at a friend’s house during a late night power outage, and slipped on an unusually shaped/sized step going into her kitchen to get a candle, and simultaneously broke a bone in my foot while tearing a tendon in my ankle.   It was a VERY slow-healing fracture (the 5th metatarsal is a notoriously difficult bone for fracture healing) and it turns out that the torn tendon is an even bigger, more long-term issue than that.  

Four months later, and I was just starting to be able to walk again, albeit with the help of crutches and physical therapy.  Here, at the fifth month mark, I can now hobble around the house without crutches, but generally when I go out in public I still use the crutches for otherwise painful occasions, like shopping, where I’ll need to walk more than a few feet at a time.   This past weekend I was not feeling all that ambitious, so I took my crutches with me as I visited…a new [charismatic] church.

My friend who went with me remarked on our way to the car, “Do you think they’ll call you up to the front to pray for you to be healed?”   I replied, “No, I doubt they’d do that.   I don’t think what from what I know of this church that that would be their style.   But – I bet they’ll get me in their lobby after the service is over.”   I was really actually not hoping this to be the case – but we were mostly teasing each other with the comments. 

So I walked into the church, feeling like I had a bullseye on my back, saying, “Aim prayers here.”   I was glad when we found an empty pew, and I could lay down my crutches and be “normal” again.   It’s not that I don’t like prayer – I actually do like prayer.  It’s just that there’s something about the way people accost people when they want to try out their healing ju-ju on them that is very uncomfortable to me in some ways – especially when the prayer is not asked for, and the person is a stranger.  

Anyway, we sat through the service, and both my friend and I found the teaching time to be really down-to-earth, basic, but solid stuff.  So solid in fact that we sat there for at least a good 5 minutes after the meeting was over, just processing together some of the heart issues that were brought up for both of us.  Meanwhile, the room grew emptier.   So we finally got up to leave. 

Back in the lobby, my friend went to look for a pen to fill out the visitor card that would earn us a “free CD” as first time visitors, and I stood there a moment waiting, when an attractive and trendy guy came up to me and introduced himself.   He talked to me for a little bit and seemed strangely friendly and interested in me, beyond what I would normally expect from an attractive and trendy guy on first meeting.   I honestly wondered at his interest in me – was he trying to pick me up?   Call it low self-esteem, but that seemed highly improbable.   So what was with this dude?   Men of this caliber, unfortunately, rarely even speak with me – let alone speak to me with such a level of personal interest.   

And then came the question – the question that instantly brought me back to reality and immediately removed all questions from my mind.   “So,” he asked, “on a scale from 1 to 10, how bad would you say your ankle hurts right now?”   And right then and there, I knew.  Not because I was intuitive, no, but because he was following the ‘script’ – the latest charismatic formula for how someone who has been trained in ‘healing’ in any of the big name ‘healing schools’ or conferences is trained to approach their victim – I mean – the person they want to try healing.  

How the script is supposed to go is like this:  you ask the person how bad their pain is on a quantitative scale, from 1 to 10.   Then you ask to pray for them.   You ask to touch them and lay your hand on the part that hurts, if possible.   Then after you command that part of their body to be healed, you ask them if they felt anything.   And you ask them if the pain has decreased – and you get another number on the scale from them.   Then you ask to pray again to get the pain to go down the scale further.   Then you check your ‘patient’ and ask again if the pain is any less.  And you keep repeating the process, over and over and over, until the patient finally says they are in much less pain, or that they are healed.     Then you ask them to do something that would have been painful earlier, like if they had shoulder pain, to lift their arm above their head or something.  This is a pattern – a template even, for how the interaction between the healer and healee is to be carried out.

So my new friend of the moment asked me how my foot felt on a scale of 1 to 10, and I instantly knew that my earlier prognostication that I would be the recipient of healing prayer ministry in the lobby after the service, was instantly proven accurate.   Yay.  

I cut to the chase.   I told him, “The pain is only around a 2 right now, because the crutches are bearing my weight for me.   But if you want to pray for my foot, you’re more than welcome to do so.”  Heck, it’s not the prayer itself that bugs me.   Since he was here, I’d receive the prayer.   So he prayed…and commanded…the ankle to heal.  Then he got up and predictably, asked me if I felt anything happening.   I told him, honestly – no, I didn’t.   I saw him getting ready to go for round two…and I just didn’t want to go through that whole entire process of pray, ask, repeat – pray, ask, repeat.   I wonder, if this formula was designed knowing that people eventually feel so much pressure to say, “Yeah, yeah, the pain has gone down” that they eventually just give in and say that?   I know from my past run ins with this form of prayer that there comes a point when I feel so pressured to just say something has happened just because it feels like the person will never let you go otherwise.   Anyway, I didn’t want to go through the whole process, so I cut to the chase again, thanked him for his one prayer, and told him the honest to God truth: I have experienced healing before.   But it has never, ever happened to me while someone was actually in the process of prayer with me.   

So my benefactor kindly nodded, smiled, and let me go.   And I was glad.   But as I look back on the encounter, I realized a few things.   And mostly it was this:

There are people in churches and groups I have been in that have never been interested in knowing me, or being friends with me.   But when they host an Avon party or an Amway party or some other sort of “get everyone who has a checkbook to come to your party” type party, they never fail to invite me.   And for me, it always goes something like, “Wow, you are talking to me?  You are inviting me to a party?   Wow – thank you – I’ve been really hoping to get to know you all this time and i always got the impression you didn’t think I was cool enough to know.”   And then, just as my hope is rising, I realize – oh, wait.   It’s not a real party.   It’s not a social invitation.   It’s a business.   They only invited me to THIS party because of the fact that they need customers.

And unfortunately, that’s sort of how I felt with Mr. Cute Healing Guy.   (He was married it turned out – which is fine.   He’s probably married to someone as cute as he is – but wow, it would have been so amazing for my friend and I to get invited to go to a meal with Mr. and Mrs. Trendy after church, and all get to know each other.   That would have been totally banging.   But that’s not what this was about.)  You see, this is what I think it was about.  No, he didn’t want money from me.   But, I can’t help but think he saw me, not as a someone to know, but as someone to practice on.   In these healing seminars, where these methods are taught, one other thing is taught: that the big guys, like John Wimber, who learned how to “do the stuff” and really heal people, prayed for something like 500 people first without a single miracle, before they got their first healing. So you have to just get out there and practice, practice, practice.  And how do you practice unless you can find people to practice on?   That’s what I think I was to this guy – an injured object for him to practice on.   Not someone he wanted to know….  not someone he even really truly cared about, but just, a chance for him to try out his stuff.   

Does that sound bleak and bitter?   I suppose I could go to that church 10 more times, and see if he ever talks to me again – or if he ever talks to me about anything other than, “How is your foot?   Would it be ok if I tried praying for your foot again?”    But I will concede: perhaps I am wrong about this guy’s intentions.   The thing is, even if I am reading the wrong thing here with him, I know one thing is certain: this blog post is worth publishing, because there are thousands of other people being taught to do exactly what this guy did, and this blog post would not be wrong about the intentions of the majority of them.   

Thus, I now hit publish, and you are invited to comment.  

A Tale of Two Tables

During the course of one week: two different US states; two completely different groups of people.   I was there, and I saw the same thing happen in both places and thought, “This needs to be talked about.   WE need to talk about it.”   So I’m writing, and blogging, and talking about the stuff we get afraid to talk about – because let’s face it, nobody wants to be the whistle-blowing whiner.   (Oh alright, I’ll take the job this time. )

At the first event, I was with a fairly large group of people who had gotten together to do some Christian-ey stuff… and afterward, we headed to a restaurant together.   The waitress pushed a bunch of tables together, creating not one, but two long tables.   Most of the people in our group were in the 20’s to 30’s or even early 40’s range; most were stylish and attractively dressed.   There were a few people though that didn’t fit the profile.   There were several severely overweight women, there were a few people that could be considered elderly, and a few people that were somewhat socially awkward for whatever reason one might construe.

And it happened.   I watched it happen – one thing that I am fairly certain should not ever happen in a group of people who are claiming to be following in the way of Jesus.

All of the young, vibrant, happy people sat with their friends.   At one table.   And the elderly, the broken and awkward, and yes, the extremely obese were left to sit at their own table.

I suppose we aren’t supposed to notice these things, much less discuss them.   After all, elderly, obese, and other generic forms of socially awkward and/or excluded people really prefer each other’s company to that of vibrant, close-knit, fashionable and youthful people.   Of this I am quite sure.   Well, almost sure.   Almost as much as I am sure that vibrant, youthful Christian people do not choose the company of the elderly, obese, and awkward ones over their more fashionable and interesting friends.   Yes, sadly – of that much I *am* really sure.

Why is this?   It is, after all, “normal.”   Which is the very thing, that I think, Christians are not supposed to be.   Well, I know Christians are not generally “normal” in their views on social issues if those issues are say, political.   In that degree, many Christians are eagerly “not normal.”   But what about the kind of “not normal” where we actively choose to build our social lives and social networks in completely confusing ways to the average human – deciding instead, in fact, to fully befriend someone who is obviously not a highly sought-after person in social circles [unfortunately even in our church groups] as our PREFERED way to live, prefered especially over just being cliquey teenagers in grown-up skin?

(Side note: of course, it is thought I think that there are no outcasts in our church groups, because after all, once we’ve found an outcast and they’ve prayed the prayer and started coming and doing the Sunday service thing with us, they’re no longer outcasts at all, right?  And our job is just to get them into our church – but we all know we have too many friends to add someone… ‘else’ …to our busy lives. It’s not our job, we know that.   Besides, these people are not like… us.  They want to be in their own category, apart from us… don’t they? )

Well, anyway, that was one restaurant – two tables.    But I have found that it is easy to smile and greet someone during worship.   It’s easy to lay hands on them and pray – to even see their broken hearts and call them out and notice that they are lonely people – heck, to share ‘prophetically’ with them that they are lonely and that God wants to heal them of this – but then, when it comes time to go out to eat together, we all too often leave them sitting at their own table again.   Alone.    Just… like… the… ‘word of knowledge’… or word of comfort… or whatever it was that WE shared with them and told them it was time for them to be free from.   We do this in plain view – and I can’t help but wonder, what happens when they are out of view?   What happens when they are sitting alone, at home, and we are planning a get-together to go see a movie, or go shopping, or play a sport, or workout – whatever it is we do with our church friends when it’s our real life and not a church get together…does anyone invite the fat or old or weird people in the group to come do real stuff too?  Do they ever get to be known as real people, enough to really know who they are and not just give them a ‘word’ about who they are – in our lives?  I guess I have a hard time believing that they do, when they sit at their own table during our after-gathering meals.  We only want to sit with the people we enjoy, the people we have real friendship with – and sadly, that’s never really going to be ‘those’ people.  They have their life, and we have ours.  Besides, at their own table, they are reaching out to the other outcasts, and that’s their calling, or something – something like that.

“It shall not be so among you.”  Jesus pointed out some things about how social rules work outside His Kingdom, in everyday life – and He said, “It shall not be so among you.”   I know in some places in the body of Christ, people want to learn how to do the amazing miraculous stuff that Jesus said His followers would do – “even greater works than these” is what He said His followers would do.   But I have to wonder which is the greater miraculous feat His followers might learn how to execute: is it to heal the sick and raise the dead, or would it be to learn how to love people and bring all sorts of people who normally wouldn’t like each other together, just like Jesus Himself did?

But this was a tale of two tables – two times over.   Because later in the week, I was at another restaurant, with another group of people.   And once again, a waitress pushed tables together for the large group I found myself with.   I had to use the restroom when we first arrived, so by the time I came out, almost everyone had seated themselves.   And this time, there was one guy without a seat – looking over the long table where everyone had assembled.   Did it have to be so obvious, as the table was filled with ‘on-fire’ young worshippers in their 20s and 30s again, that this man who had been worshipping with them, walking with a slow gait as he had recently had chemo and cancer in his 60s, was the one person standing there longingly looking for a seat among them?   Someone tried to ‘help’ him (I guess) by recommending he sit at a nearby table just as I was walking in and saw that my fate also, a relative newcomer to the group, would also be to the exile table to sit with the lone older man.  This story had a silver lining though – in that a young woman there named Rebecca instantly got up from the table and all her friends and said to me, “I’ll sit over there with you.”  And she came and sat with us.

Rebecca’s actions were a spark of hope to me – to see a young follower of Jesus so eagerly and without any outward sign of remorse, eschew her peers and friends to sit with the old guy and the new [almost middle aged] woman,  Her heart was a spark of glory and goodness the ‘people of God.’   But I also reflect that too often, to love those different than the mainstream, means going alone, and leaving one’s friends behind, and for Rebecca that day loving me and the other guy meant so doing.   I am dimly hoping for the day, for the people, who will not have to make such sacrifices – because while such sacrifices are worthy and worthwhile to make, they should be unnecessary, and I do not believe they are a representation of the best the body of Christ could be.   What I want to see is groups of friends learning to include, integrate, and love people outside their peer group together – so that the lonely outcast person doesn’t just sit with the one young sacrificial lamb who is torn between her friends and him or her, but so that the formerly socially unwanted person gets WELCOMED, integrated, brought into a circle where he or she truly becomes one with the circle.   Where the whole gang wants to sit with the elderly ones, and learn from them, or the overweight ones, and look past their figure to their real mind and heart, or to the awkward ones, so they get to learn what normal relationships are like.

Because, I know that if we have two tables, there is one that Jesus is sitting at.  If there’s an outcast table, He’s gonna be there – and one way or another, we’re all missing out.   He’s missing the fellowship of the young and trendy, and we’re all missing Him in each other.   I’d rather we all had Him, and the demonstration of His kingdom among ourselves, so that we can experience a joy that is more than ‘normal’ humanity – but is something truly from Above.  Because after all, in the Kingdom, there really is only ONE table.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑