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Sunday, June 16, 2013

LIVE GENEROUSLY


Bring health to the sick.  Raise the dead.  Touch the untouchables.  Kick out the demons.  You have been treated generously, so live generously.  Matthew 10:8 (MSG)

I know that in the life of Jesus, each time he prayed for a person in need of healing, the healing came one hundred percent of the time.

The dilemma for me today is to keep praying when at times I see the healing, yet other times I do not.

I recall one exciting moment when my oldest, Jennifer, was a young girl about seven years old.  She came into the bedroom and like all children with their parents, told us her problem and then curled up in a feverish heap between us for comfort.

Jennie explained that she had been very hot for most of the night.  Oh, my heart went out to her.  There is nothing that stirs a parent more than to have a sick child.  It moves you to immediate action to make them more comfortable and to ease their anxiety.

Usually, I would go rushing to moisten a washcloth and place it on her forehead, but this time I encouraged my husband to pray with me for her healing.  We both laid our hands on her head and prayed a simple prayer.  Immediately, the fever backed away and she felt much cooler to our touch.

Just to be sure, I went to the medicine cabinet and fetched our thermometer.  Placing the thermometer in her mouth to take her temperature, I waited a few minutes.  Then sure enough, her temperature was normal again!  Wow!

I know God is able to answer a healing prayer.  God is willing, but we rarely invite him to enter the mix of things unless we are at the end of our rope.

A prayer for healing is what we all need at times.  We have all come up against physical barriers to health, but more common are the emotional bruises that we end up with due to the harshness of life events.  Emotional scars covered up by years of living are still there with their subtle effect on us.  Many times, we need to peel through the layers to the root causes of our physical ailments.  Prayers for healing and ministry may truly aim at issues much deeper than we realize.

Francis McNutt, a healing minister, has found that it is the spiritual and emotional areas that God deals with at times when we do not see immediate physical results.  He suggests that by continuing to pray with the sick individual each time you meet together, they are receiving spiritual and emotional releases.  Changes in their physical symptoms follow once these other areas are set right.

About two years ago, my neighbor started wearing a cap to cover her shaved head.  She had beautiful
dark brown hair that was always beautifully styled, so I knew that she wasn't doing this as a fad.  I hesitated at first, but then approached her as she watered flowers near the front porch.

"Hi Cheryl, what's up?"

"I found out that not only do I have breast cancer this time, but I have cancer throughout my whole body."

"Oh, Cheryl, no!  I am so sorry to hear that.  May I pray for you?"

"Please, I'd really love that."

Right there in the front yard I placed my hands on her shoulders and prayed a faith-filled prayer for this woman who had previously fought breast cancer.  This was her second bout.  She had a strong faith in God.  She was the type of person who gave of herself whether decorating for a friend's wedding, baking to welcome new neighbors, or shuttling around her kids to practices and games after a week of work.

I had another opportunity to pray face to face with her after treatments when she was feeling low.  This time she walked up to me while I was pruning in my front garden.

Everyday for over a year I looked across the street knowing that she was frail yet fighting valiantly to get well.  I prayed for her and for her family to have strength and peace.  I cried as I took showers and pleaded with God to give her more time in perfect health with her family.

I sent over food several times on days when I knew she was coming home from radiation and would be too weak or sick for the next few days.  She wrote notes to thank me and always expressed how she felt our prayers strengthening her in an uncanny peace despite it all.

I watched her children take on more responsibilities and never complain.  Their faith in God is one thing Cheryl wanted to see planted firmly in their lives.  She lived a life of faith before them and talked to them about their future and how to make wise choices with God's help.

Months went by.  Cheryl even went in to work to help with the files at work on her good days.  She was a dental hygienist and could not be near germs due to her weak immune system at the end.

Then, the next thing I knew it was October, she was wheeling around an oxygen tank to watch my son and her two kids carving out their pumpkins...but before Christmas she was gone.
 I know that many of her prayers for her family were answered through their shared suffering.  God did a work during that time and the kids now walk in a maturity that most their age don't possess.

God didn't answer my prayer for Cheryl the way I expected him to.  I was grieving and a little troubled at the end.  I know that God looked down and loved them all and this was her time to leave suffering behind.  Her body would feel no more pain.  I also saw a beautiful transformation in that family.  Peace reigned in their lives despite their loss.

I am determined to walk by faith and to invite God into my daily life.  Whether I notice a need or breath a prayer, this world needs a gentler touch and caring words.  I desire to be his hands, feet, and voice.  I want to be moved by compassion as Jesus was.  He had Kingdom eyes and I pray that I could have that kind of vision when I look upon each precious child of his.

God, whose essence is love, is concerned for the ones I pray for, far more than I am.  I will trust him to do his part, as I do mine.


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