Led by the Spirit, how does that work?

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons – mature children – of God. (Romans 8:14)

What does that look like, really? someone asked me recently. How does it work?

Here’s an example... Last Wednesday evening I left a class at church to drive home. Nearing West Palmetto Street, I began “knowing that I knew what I knew” – I wasn’t supposed to go home yet.

But if not home, then where? I wondered. I didn’t know anyone I could just drop in on, without prior notice. I had eaten supper before going to class, but perhaps the McDonald’s at I-95? Or the Huddle House near there?

No, not there, I felt in my gut. So I turned left on Palmetto, waiting for some sort of direction from the Holy Spirit. I live just three minutes from church so it didn’t take long to reach the driveway to my condo, but I knew I was supposed to keep going on towards town.

When I recognized Celebration Boulevard just ahead, I sensed in my spirit that I should turn right, and so I did. And suddenly I knew my destination – another McDonald’s, the one at South Cashua.

I was familiar with that place. During the week after Hurricane Matthew I had spent quite a bit of time there praying with people: folks whose electricity was out, exhausted hospital workers, linemen coming to and from repairing downed power lines, not to mention the weary McDonald’s staff themselves. Although my own power was also out for some days, I had plenty of food and water at home, I wasn’t there for that.

No, the Lord had sent me to that McDonald’s, one of the few places still with electricity and water, to encourage and pray for tired, worried, needy people. The lines were always long, the faces usually long too – there were plenty of opportunities to pray.

And Wednesday evening I had a gut feeling that I would find a needy person to pray for at McDonald’s. While the drive-through was busy, there were no other customers inside. Wondering if the cashiers and cooks were the reason for my visit, I took an order of french fries to a table and sat down.

I prayed as I nibbled, asking the Lord to bless everyone in the building and drive-through, to draw them to himself and meet every need, body, soul and spirit. Several other customers came in as I sat there but none seemed to be a specific prayer target.

I was down to my last few fries when a young man came from behind the counter out into the restaurant, talking on a cell phone. Going by the uniform he was wearing I thought he was probably the assistant manager. Around and around he walked, all the while talking on his phone. Then the voice of the Holy Spirit spoke plainly, “He’s the one.”

The next time he came near enough, I motioned for him to come sit with me. Putting his phone call on hold, he slipped into the booth with a polite, questioning expression on his face. He probably expected a complaint of some kind. I explained that I would like to pray for him, and asked if he believed in Jesus. He said yes, and told me his name.

I asked if there was anything specific he needed prayer for, and he became quiet and thoughtful for a moment or two. Then in a few sentences he shared a worrisome situation that had arisen about his job and his concern for his future with the company. I extended my hand, he took it and we prayed together about all that.

I ate supper at home before I came, I told him, but the Lord loves you very much, he wants the best for you, and he sent me here just to pray for you. He thanked me, I said you’re very welcome, and came home.

That’s how it works, being led by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it’s words, sometimes it’s knowing that you know what you know, sometimes it’s a gut feeling. The Lord can get his directions across to you in a variety of ways – if you’re listening, and if you’re willing to obey him. It may take some practice.

Also see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/encounters/

When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail…

hammeringnailThe first time I heard God speak to me, I was 6 years old. I was sitting in my first grade class, admiring the teacher. I thought she was really pretty, really smart, and I liked her a lot. Suddenly that voice said to me, One day you will be a teacher.

I didn’t know that other people didn’t hear God speak to them like that, I didn’t think it was unusual or strange at all. It wasn’t a common occurrence for me, though. Just that one statement was all he said for a long, long time.

As the years went by God occasionally said other things to me, like Don’t go there, or You should read this. Stuff like that. Just once in a while, nothing spectacular, no big deal. But I tried to pay attention, because I figured God knew what was going on a lot better than I did.

See, all during those years my family attended church, one that stressed the importance of studying the Bible. I admired my Sunday School teacher the same way I had admired my grammar school teacher. I liked her, and because she said knowing the scripture was important, I read and I studied. It was interesting, some of it actually fascinating, and because I enjoyed history of all kinds I enjoyed the Bible too. I just didn’t consider that it might be more than a history book and a rule book.

I wasn’t even born again in those days, at least as I understood that to mean. I had never asked Jesus to come save me, to be my Lord. I just knew that I knew that I knew — Jesus was God. Didn’t everybody know that? I suspect someone was praying for me, because God knew me. He was with me long before I ever knew him.

Then, as the teenage years rolled around, things I knew I should do, I didn’t do. And vice versa. I DID go there, where I shouldn’t go. I started doing things because I wanted to, whether my parents or my Sunday School teacher or the preacher thought they were okay or not. And believe me, I instinctively knew what they would think about some of it. NO-NO’s.

I had actually told God one day that yes, I understood how to be saved, and yes, I wanted to be saved some day, and okay, I’ll accept Jesus as my “saver.” Not really serious about it, I just said it and promptly forgot it. Gradually his voice stopped speaking to me, but by then I didn’t even notice.

Thinking I could run my life just fine all by myself, I dropped out of college and married a man my family didn’t approve of. A man who turned out to be exactly the kind of person they had warned me he was. We had two children, and bit by bit our marriage fell apart.

At age 29 when I finally acknowledged that doing my own thing my own way wasn’t working out too well, I seriously asked Jesus to save me and to manage my life. In other words, to be my Lord.

What happened next was spectacularly sudden, and supernatural.* Everything changed in a flash, and I knew that the Bible was actually, literally true. Not just a history book, but a living Word, filled with the words of God addressed to me personally. Wow! His voice returned, full of laughter and life! I was so glad, so very glad.

Well, before you know it, I was a teacher. I was teaching Sunday School, and a few years later teaching Bible college classes. One day it dawned on me – God’s statement to that 6 year old girl was the literal truth. One day I would be a teacher, and that day is today.

And I have recognized and come to accept that “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Even when you’re just 6 years old. Some folks know what that means…

Looking back I have realized that throughout my life, everything I’ve ever learned, I have thought of it as a teacher would, in terms of how to tell it to somebody else. How to explain it in ways they could understand, whether it was to my own children, friends, coworkers, stranger, whoever.

Whether meditating, speaking, writing, even emailing, my point of view has always been as a teacher. My focus has always been, How can I help somebody else understand this? Math? English? History? Science? Current events? Politics? Those certainly, but most importantly, Jesus. Father God. Holy Spirit.

It’s been a while since I was 29. I’m still reading, still studying, still finding the Bible interesting and fascinating, but one thing is for sure — it’s way better with the author right there with you. The extraordinary Teacher, Holy Spirit, Explainer-in-Chief, who always puts how best to share this with other people uppermost in our study sessions.

* Also see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/all-things-became-new/

Healing Testimony, 26 July, 2014

blood-lambWednesday evening July 23, 2014, Keith called to say several musicians would be away on Sunday, they would be shorthanded, and to ask if I could play the piano for Sunday’s worship service.

Sure, I agreed, and promised to be there for practice Sunday morning. No problem.

Saturday morning I awoke as usual to the playful antics of Friday and Baby (cats), insisting not too patiently that I arise and feed them. As usual I sat up a moment before sliding on bedroom slippers, and immediately was struck with back pain.

A deep throbbing ache in my right hip extended down my right leg. I could lie flat or stand okay, but sitting was a definite problem.

Since I had done nothing out of the ordinary physically the days preceding that – no heavy lifting, no twisting –  I suspected this was a “fit of pique,” designed by the enemy to keep me from playing the piano at church the next day. Naturally, playing the piano requires sitting on the piano bench.

Not that the church couldn’t worship perfectly fine without me. They could and would. But I had looked forward to joining the praise team in praise and worship. Hmmm. (I did wonder if the fact that I’d recently prayed for some other people with back pain had anything to do with it.)

Making my way to the kitchen to tend to kitty food and coffee I began praying about the situation, thanking God and praising Jesus the Healer. John 10:10, I reminded myself. I Peter 2:24, by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.

While standing at the kitchen counter I laid hands on every achy spot I could reach, taking authority in the name of Jesus over my own body and commanding spine and hips to be normal. I specifically mentioned spinal vertebrae, foramina, discs, muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels, demanding them to be completely healed, healthy, whole, strong and pain-free.

After breakfast, my Saturday housework plans underwent an amendment. No vacuuming, no dusting, no mopping. Instead, I put on an old DVD, lay flat on the living room sofa, and began a day of prayer and praise amid the antics of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, A&E’s 2001 television series.

Why the old familiar TV shows? Unlike watching the news, they required no mental attention, but they did distract my thoughts from the physical attention achy bones and muscles and nerves seemed to require.

They drowned out all the “you’re sick,” “you can’t do anything,” “you need a doctor,” “playing piano for church is out,” messages coming against my mind. I could more easily focus on praying in the spirit, praising and thanking the Lord for his word. For “sozo.” For healing.

Laying flat on the sofa with feet propped up and head on a cushion, all morning I prayed in the spirit, praised the Lord and recited healing scriptures while videos played in the background. I rebuked any enemy spirits that were “crunching, twisting or pounding” back muscles and nerves in my body. Occasionally I got up to refill my coffee cup. The kitties kept me company, probably puzzled at this change in routine.

Lunch came and went. More prayer in the spirit, more praise, more commands to places that hurt.

Then, mid-afternoon I switched gears. I began talking about the blood of Jesus to myself and to the enemy. About the cross, the nails, and the blood that flowed from Jesus’ back for my healing. I didn’t just mention “His stripes,” I discussed the result of those stripes.

Blood. Lots of blood, covering His head, arms, hands and feet — especially his back, hips, and legs. I began to describe the blood of Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

In an instant all the pain disappeared. Not gradually, not an improvement, there was suddenly no pain in my back, right hip and leg. The enemy simply couldn’t stand the blood of Jesus.

This was an important lesson to me. Prayer, praise, quoting scriptures, taking authority, laying hands on our own bodies, commanding and demanding health — they’re all important. I’m confident that eventually my body would respond.

But the most essential weapon in spiritual warfare is the blood of Jesus. Without His blood, there isn’t anything else.

 

What I believe and why

(Reprinted from March 6, 2011.)

John 10:10. Jesus said it.

I made a decision many years ago to believe the Bible, accept it as God’s truth, and base my existence on its veracity and dependability. I accepted Jesus as savior and manager (Lord) of my life, studied what he did here on earth and how he did it. What he said, to whom, and on what occasions. Instructions he gave.

These days I am re-studying the Gospel of John. It’s a fascinating book. Recently I read a statement made by someone that Jesus never claimed to be God so why did Christians think he was? That person obviously never read John’s gospel where Jesus repeatedly claimed to be God, declaring it to followers and detractors alike.

I take Jesus at his word, and these days especially John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Who is they? Verse 9 tells us. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Saved is from the Greek word “sozo,” meaning healed, rescued, kept safe, made whole… a very positive word.

Jesus said he was the gate for the sheep. The sheep are “they.” I’m one of his sheep so I’m included in “they.”

I know full well that human beings have a vicious enemy. He hates all humans but especially believers. After all, if he can wipe out one Christian, he can potentially wipe out many others who might have come to Christ through their testimony.

His specific goals are listed by Jesus in this verse:

(1) Steal — your belongings. Home, car, money or peace of mind. Marriage, children. Health. Reputation. Job, savings or retirement plan. He will use economic depression, natural disaster, fire, flood, earthquake, whatever he can.

(2) Kill — you, your family and friends. With whatever weapon he can use. Cancer. Heart disease. Accidents. War. Famine. Murder. Suicide.

(3) Destroy — anything he couldn’t steal or kill. Especially your faith. Listening to his doubt and fear, gossip, rumors and uncertainty, erodes your self-confidence. He’ll try to nullify your testimony. It’s hard to witness when your mind is full of fear.

The rest of verse 10 tells us that Jesus is proactive. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Not just life, but full life. God-life. Not depressed, not defeated. Overflowing! Abundant!

John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus didn’t warn us about the enemy so we could worry when he attacks or blame God for the attacks, but so we could stomp the enemy in Jesus’ name. Defeat him. Destroy his works as Jesus did. (See Acts 10:38). Believe Jesus. Worship Jesus. Obey Jesus. Quote Jesus!

John 14: 12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things that these, because I am going to the father.” Well, what had Jesus been doing?

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11) Miracles, is what he had been doing. Healing the sick.

Some well-meaning Christians think those particular verses don’t apply today or at least don’t apply to everyone today. If that was true, salvation – from the same Greek word, sozo – isn’t available today, either. But it does, and they do.

 

Testimony: Adventures with the Holy Spirit, Part I

“April 16, 1974. Last night I went to bed at about 10:00. Usually I pray while lying in bed but I needed God’s help so much just then, I got down on my knees by my side of the bed and prayed. Very simply, I said, Lord, help me. I promised to be still and to wait upon God, asking Him to speak to me if it was His will. Then I got into bed and shortly fell asleep. Paul had not come to bed at that time but did soon afterward.”

These handwritten notes from April 16, 1974 recount the events of the evening of April 15th. Today is June 19, 2011 and my memory of that night is as vivid as it was back then. A little background:

I usually prepared our family’s tax returns, and usually at the last minute. In previous years we had gotten a tax refund on both federal and state taxes and I expected the same for this year — but after calculating all the figures several times, I was dismayed to see that we would owe the government money. I don’t remember how much it was but whatever the amount, it was money we didn’t have.

I was extremely upset. Bills were piling up and as the one who wrote those checks, I knew how much debt we were in. We were supposed to be a two-income family but often Paul’s paycheck didn’t make it home on Friday. A stop-off at a local country store where beer and whiskey flowed freely, a backroom poker game might be going on and if not, several pinball machines were available, sometimes left him broke before he ever arrived home in the wee hours of Saturday morning. That is, if he came home at all during the weekend.

The financial hole we were in kept getting deeper and deeper and I didn’t know how we were ever going to get out of it. I had counted on those refunds; even small ones would help.

So I’d mailed the tax returns without enclosing any checks, knowing the state and federal agencies would soon send me a notice of amounts due, fees and penalties. Maybe we could work out a payment plan, I hoped. Worry, anxiety and depression set in.

I told myself I was a Christian; why weren’t all my needs met?

I gritted my teeth and somehow got through the rest of the normal afternoon and evening routine without the kids seeing me fall apart. I don’t recall what I said to Paul about the taxes, or what his response was. Arguments about his drinking and gambling had led nowhere in the past and I don’t remember us having an argument that night about the taxes.

Thus the unusual (for me) prayer position, down on my knees beside the bed. Back to the events of that night:

Sometime later I was suddenly awakened by the sound of the window, just over my side of the bed, rattling hard. I could hear the sound of a windstorm, also loud. I raised myself up enough in the bed that I could look out of the window. There was a large weeping willow tree just outside the window in the back of the house, and although I could hear the wind blowing, not a branch on that tree was moving.

Thinking I must have been dreaming, I lay back down. The wind didn’t stop, however —  the sound seemed to move inside my head. Suddenly the inside of the bedroom lit up as though someone had turned on a floodlight, and there standing just beyond the foot of the bed was a bright shining, shimmering figure looking over at me. Jesus.

At that instant I felt as though I was floating slightly off the surface of the bed, and my whole body felt on fire.The burning sensation didn’t hurt but I could almost hear my own blood boiling in my ears. Closing my eyes I could still see flickers of light inside my eyelids.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I could only reach out and touch Paul, asleep beside me, he would be healed (lung problems). But my hand wouldn’t move. I opened my eyes again and the wind sound became quiet, the form of Jesus became invisible, the light gone and the room back to its normal darkness.

Realizing that I could move again, I sat up and laid both hands on Paul’s forehead. Looking down at him still sleeping, I prayed for him to accept Christ and to be healed by God’s power.

As I lay back down, suddenly the rushing wind sound returned, the window rattled, the brilliant light came back and Jesus stood beside the bed, smiling. The sensation of my body being on fire returned and then quietly the light dimmed, the visible presence of Jesus faded and he was gone.

I reached for Paul’s arm. He immediately woke up and I thought, how strange that he had slept through the whole event and now that it was over, he woke up. What’s wrong, he asked. And all of a sudden I was afraid. Afraid that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were completely gone. Afraid that without them there, Satan could enter my house and hurt my children. I told Paul that I’d had a dream and I was afraid to let go of his arm.

A clock in the living room began to strike midnight, marking the end of April 15. I asked Paul to please go check on the children. I began to pray for protection for Paul Jr. and Shelby, really for us all. I could almost feel an evil atmosphere out in the hallway, as if evil spirits were close by. He got up, went to the bathroom, checked on the kids and pronounced everything okay, coming back to bed and falling right back to sleep.

I couldn’t do the same, however. The strange threatening fear was still there.

Remembering how Jesus had used scripture as a weapon against the devil (Matthew 4:1-11), I began to mentally sing The Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) As a pianist and organist, I had played that piece for vocalists to sing at weddings and in church for many years. That night it was the only scripture passage I could remember by heart!

Singing The Lord’s Prayer on a continuous loop in my mind, at last I sensed the atmosphere in the house changing from one of danger to one of peace and finally I fell asleep.

The next morning I wrote everything down, trying not to forget any detail. My notes say “Today I asked the Lord to use that experience for whatever purpose he has. I’m not afraid now.”

On June 30th I copied my handwritten scribbles down into a little green notebook. It contains only one set of notes — those from that time. I have carefully preserved that little notebook from that day to this, thirty-seven years later.

I realized that the events of that night were an answer to my prayer for help. I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened to me, or if anyone else on the planet had ever had a similar experience…

But I was determined to find out.

Miracles in my life

Testimony, part four

Miracles in my life

(1) For a time in the early 1970’s my children and I attended Parkwood Presbyterian Church on the Pamplico Highway. The church had an Easter Sunrise Service one year and the weather was beautiful. Several dozen church members assembled outside on the church grounds as the sun came up, and suddenly Jesus stood there facing us, smiling, his arms outstretched. His figure was much taller than any of the people there and translucent, not quite transparent.

After a few minutes the figure faded away and he was gone. After the brief sunrise service we went inside for breakfast before the regular Sunday School classes and Worship service. At first I thought I was the only person who had seen the figure of Jesus, but later several people cautiously asked around, “Did you see anything – unusual – during the sunrise service?” and we discovered that a number of us had seen him.

(2) One morning I was on my way to work at Florence-Darlington Technical College from my home in Claussen, driving down the Old River Road. The children had either caught the school bus or it was summer, I don’t remember which, and I was alone in the car.

Suddenly off to the right down a dirt lane I saw a car speeding toward the road and I realized it was not slowing down. We were already so close that there was no way to avoid a collision even if I stomped on the brakes. I simply said “Jesus” and in an instant my car was hundred of yards further down the road. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the other car just coming off the dirt road onto the River Road, behind me.

My car had been transported down the road — not a tremendous distance, but a comfortable distance. I had a hard time driving the rest of the way into town, the energy level and anointing inside my car was so great. I praised my way to work that day!

(3) One day my children and I were driving into town. We were on the Old River Road and had gone through the Claussen intersection when a red dashboard light came on in the Plymouth. The radiator was overheating. We could smell the waves of heat coming from under the hood and I knew better than to keep driving with the radiator hot.

We were near a house so I pulled the car over and hoped someone there could give us some water, but no-one was home. We had nothing in the car to put water in, not even an empty Coke bottle or can, and there was no garden hose in that yard.

So, I laid my hand on the front hood of the car and commanded the radiator to be normal temperature and whatever had caused the problem, whether a faulty thermostat or a leak, to be gone. We got back into the car, I cranked up the engine and the indicator light had gone out. The hot smell had gone away too. We drove on into town and did our errands and never had another problem with the engine overheating.

(4) One day I was frying something when hot grease popped out of the frying pan onto my hand. That spot turned red and burned like the dickens, but I didn’t have time to stop and try to find ice, or salve, or a band-aid to put on the hand. It was very inconvenient.

So I just told my hand to stop hurting and burning and went on with my cooking. After a while I looked down and my hand wasn’t red, it wasn’t painful, in fact I couldn’t tell where that spot had been.

(5) Another time I was peeling or slicing vegetables when I bore down a little too hard with my paring knife and accidentally cut the end of a finger. I hate being cut worse than being burned! I needed to keep working on the vegetables and knew a band-aid probably wouldn’t stay on the finger very long.

I rinsed the finger off, commanded the skin to close up and be healed, wrapped a bit of paper towel or napkin around it and went back to work. When I finished up the vegetables I unwrapped the finger. The skin had closed back up and there wasn’t even so much as a thin line left to show where the cut had been.

(6) In the late 1970’s I was one of the teachers at the Tabernacle Bible Institute. I was walking from the parking lot toward the main building to teach a class one morning and saw one of my students coming toward me. Since it was almost time for class to start, I asked where she was going. She said she had to go to the dentist, she had a terrible toothache.

I told her to let’s pray, then laid my hand on the side of her jaw and commanded her toothache to leave her and whatever was causing the pain to be gone. She thanked me and went on into the parking lot. I went on into the building and a few minutes later assembled with my class. There she was in her usual seat.

I said to her, “I thought you were going to the dentist.” She replied, “When you prayed, my toothache went away so I didn’t need to go to the dentist.” We rejoiced together that God cared even for her teeth.

(7) One evening I was substitute teaching for my brother in the Old Testament Class. The classroom was on the second floor of a building at the intersection of Cheves Street and South Coit and the students were mostly adults who were taking classes after getting off work in the evenings.

We had been discussing a passage of scripture about healing when one of the ladies in the class asked me to pray for her. She said she was deaf in one ear, and would I pray for the hearing to be restored in that ear.

The thought immediately came to my mind — what if I pray and nothing happens? The Lord immediately replied, if you don’t pray, certainly nothing will happen! If you pray, she has a 50-50 chance of being healed, but if you don’t pray she has no chance of being healed. He assured me that He could take care of his own reputation.

So, I simply laid my hand lightly against the lady’s ear and commanded it to be opened in Jesus’ name. And it was. There was no great hullabaloo, just a quiet expectancy of faith in that classroom and she was healed. We took a few minutes to praise the Lord for his goodness and mercy and then I went on with the lesson.

That was the only time I taught that particular class of students and I have no idea who the lady was, but it was a wonderful moment. God made me realize that night that His faith can always overcome my doubts if I will just do what he tells me.

Over the years I’ve prayed for many people and seen most of them healed instantly. Some healings have been more gradual, and some people I never saw again after that occasion so I don’t know their history.

But I don’t need to know. God tells me what to do, I do it, and the rest is His business. His business is destroying the works of the devil, sometimes using me as his hand-tool, much like a carpenter uses a hammer or a saw. If He’s willing – and He is – then I’m willing.

Sozo – salvation, faith and healing

Testimony, part two

Sozo – salvation, faith and healing

Getting the job as the very first secretary of the Nursing Department of Florence-Darlington Technical College was the easiest thing I ever did. My current job was ending and I needed a new one, and one of the other parents at my children’s daycare told me about this new position being created. I called, went by and filled out an application form and was set up with an interview with Billie Boette, R.N., the new department head.

The day of the appointment I found her surrounded by box after box of loose papers, files, print-outs, student records, instructional materials, office supplies, and other assorted odds and ends.

There was a large outer room, a glass-walled inner room, two desks, two chairs and an empty file cabinet, all nice and new, and all stacked with overflowing boxes. Adjoining this yet-to-become office space was a completely furnished ward room featuring two rows of neatly made-up hospital beds, bedpans and rolling sphygmometers (blood pressure machines). One bed was occupied by Resusci-Annie, a full-sized dummy used to teach CPR.

Classes were set to begin in just a week or so. We had little time to make sense of all the confusion in those boxes, set up for-real offices for Billie and me, plus have all the student records organized before they descended on us en masse. I must have looked capable for the task because I was hired on the spot. Billie just pointed to the mass of boxes and said, “That’s your first job.”

I don’t know how we did it but by the first day of class we looked like we had it all together. Both desks were organized, mine with pens, scotch tape, paper clips, white-out, and a nice new typewriter, Billie’s stacked with student and staff files. Trash cans were half-full, pot plants were dropping a few wilted leaves, and hand-outs were being typed.

I answered the department phone, typed instructional material and generally did whatever anybody wanted or needed to make the nursing department’s first quarter run smoothly. I stayed very busy those first months on the job. I met a lot of people, learned my way around campus and thoroughly enjoyed my work.

But then came a day when I had nothing to do, literally nothing. There were no papers to type or file, the phone didn’t ring, no-one stopped by, and after I dusted, polished, emptied trash and did everything else I could think of, I opened my Schofield Reference Bible. I usually brought it with me to read during lunch.

I had promised myself to read the Bible all the way through in a year but my tendency to get distracted was interfering — I’d read a couple of verses, see something interesting and run all the references. Some days I only got through three or four verses that way.

This particular day, with no-one coming, going or telephoning, I picked up the Bible and turned to the index. I was curious about something.

Mr. Charlie Smith had given me several audiocassettes to listen to a few days earlier. On one tape Jerry Savelle was giving his testimony at a conference, vividly describing an accident that had happened to his baby daughter. Jerry and his wife were at a Kenneth Copeland meeting, the baby in the nursery. Suddenly someone came running up the aisle shouting, “Brother Jerry, Brother Jerry, come quick!”

Crawling around the floor while the nursery attendant was tending to another infant, Jerry’s daughter had her little finger underneath the rocker when the attendant rocked back. The end of her little finger was mashed completely off behind the fingernail. Blood was pouring, the baby was screaming and the nursery worker was hysterical.

Jerry wrapped the baby’s finger up, held her tight against his chest and ran back into the auditorium, straight up to the platform. He said, “Kenneth had been preaching that God still heals today, and I was going to find out if that was true or not, right now.”

Kenneth prayed for the baby and Jerry and his wife headed to the hospital. They had the end of the finger wrapped in a cloth but the ER doctor said it was too mangled to reattach. He sutured up the wound and said it should heal up okay, but that finger would never have a fingernail again. Jerry replied, “It’ll grow back.” The doctor patiently explained that since the entire nailbed was gone, there was no way for the fingernail to grow back.

Jerry just insisted, “It’ll grow back.” They took the baby home, and sure enough, within a few months she had a healed-up finger, complete with brand new fingernail!

I was astonished. I’d never heard a story of healing like that before, or a story of faith like that before either. I played that tape again, then listened to several others like it. Jerry Savelle, Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts and others, all gave healing testimonies. They accompanied these accounts with scripture about God’s unchanging word, how salvation contains everything necessary for life and godliness, how healing is still for us today if we will just believe it.

Now I’d heard multiple sermons before about the scriptures containing all we need for godly living. But I had never heard any about this kind of healing being for today. Everybody I knew got sick now and then, and every sick person I knew went to the doctor and got a prescription for antibiotics or something. Nobody I knew just believed God and got healed.

No church I’d ever attended really prayed and believed the sick person would get healed, just that the doctor would give them the right medicine or treatment and eventually they’d get better. Of course a lot of them didn’t get better, they got worse. Some died from heart disease, cancer, or stroke.

And the way they were prayed for got everybody off the hook. “Lord, if it be thy will, heal this poor sick brother.” So if they weren’t healed, why then it must not have been God’s will. Makes sense, right?

But these people were saying it is God’s will to heal, you can know it’s God’s will to heal, and you yourself can experience God’s willingness to heal.

Okay, here I was with a completely work-free day. Here was my chance to examine the Bible and see for myself. I turned to the index and made a list of every verse that had the word heal, healing, healed or health in it. It was a long list. Then I started in, carefully writing out all those verses from Genesis to Revelation in a notebook, getting more and more persuaded as I went that the tapes had it right.

By the time I gathered up my Bible, notebook and purse at the end of the day, I was convinced. I was also sad, disappointed, and a little angry — angry at all those preachers and Sunday School teachers who had not told me that healing is for today. Angry at myself for waiting so many years to study for myself what the Bible said about healing.

I drove home that day without really seeing the road. Disappointment and anger soon turned into joy, thanksgiving, praise and worship. And determination to apply the scriptures to myself, prove God’s faithfulness to myself, and demonstrate in my own life the truth of his Word.

I had a new study goal. Now that I knew God provided sozo-salvation-faith-healing in Jesus, I needed to know how to transmit that to 20th century sickness, disease, injury, pain, in my own life and my family’s. How did Jesus do it? How did the disciples do it? How did Jesus tell us to do it?

If you read the other articles on this site, you’ll learn what I found out.