This past week, Jordan and I traveled to Franklin Tennessee for an ecumenical conference that was centered on prayer, the Holy Spirit, and re-imagining church. The conference describes itself as being an “effort to gather pastors together under one roof to convene conversations, curate content, call to prayer, and inspire a new generation of men and women who long to be a part of a great awakening.” It was a gathering of clergy and lay-leaders who are passionate about a fresh spiritual awakening and revival in the church universal. Speakers came from around the globe to share their experiences and theological insights on awakening, prayer, gifts of the Spirit, and the empowered Church.
We were encouraged that pockets of spiritual wildfire are breaking out across the globe as God’s people are stepping up and remembering the greatness of the all-powerful God that we love and serve. God’s body is not sizzling out or dying off. We are coming alive as we re-connect to the Vine and experience fresh expressions of church in an ever-changing culture. This is great news!
Anyone who thinks that scholarly theological discussion is dry or boring has never experienced training under the brilliant theologians who taught at the New Room Conference hosted by Asbury Seminary’s Seedbed publishing company. There was nothing “dry” or “boring” about the teaching that took place during this three-day conference. In fact, as someone who has massive adrenaline dumps into my bloodstream due to my HyperPOTS, I struggled to keep my heart rate under control as my passion and zeal were ignited throughout this dynamic three-day gathering.
I discovered something interesting this past week in Franklin: When you attend a gathering with a focus on the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer, and you are in a wheel chair, you will have many people who want to pray over you. This is not a bad thing. It’s a wonderful thing. I need as much prayer as I can get, and I certainly long for healing. When it is 11 PM, and you are trying to get out the doors so that you can get to your air b&b to sleep, however, you might have a tendency to “duck and run.” I may or may not have whispered to Jordan, “Quick! Run now! Don’t make eye contact, just push me to the car as fast as you can.” I was exhausted. There was not a single prayer that was prayed over me that didn’t deeply minister to my heart, mind, and body. I loved it all. And I needed rest.
One might think that if you go to a conference like this with physical ailments, you are likely to make it home completely healed. If you get home, and you are still wheelchair dependent, maybe you didn’t have enough faith. Maybe the right people didn’t pray for you. Maybe God forgot to listen. Surely something went wrong, right? I mean, GIANTS in the faith prayed over me. I was prayed over in song, in English, in tongues, given words of prophecy, wept over, had countless people lay hands over me, and yet……I still came home in a wheelchair, still needing the same routine of medications, still passing out, still needing a feeding tube, still completely drained of energy and physical strength….still waiting.
And guess what? I couldn’t have asked for more effective prayer. My hope is restored, my joy is restored, my spiritual and emotional strength are restored, and I recieved a better and deeper healing than I could have ever dreamed possible.
Sometimes God heals our phyiscal bodies. Sometimes He takes away our diseases. Sometimes He raises people from the actual dead. Sometimes He says, “Little girl, arise!”, and people physically, miraculously stand up.
Other times, when He says, “Little girl, arise,” the child inside of us who has been beaten down and cast aside rises up and is healed. And He tells our broken hearts just the things that they have always been longing to hear:
“You are loved.”
“You are not, and never have been, the problem,”
“I am proud of you.”
“My light pours through you, and shines out of you.”
“Will you trust me while you wait?”
“Let me be your Father.”
Guys, there are things more important than physical healing, and I think that I figured out what some of those things are this past week. God wants to restore the years that were stolen from me through trauma and abuse. God wants to fill my heart to overflowing with hope, joy, and all good things that come from Him. God wants to pour out His light and life through me in the midst of my suffering in ways that show that in my weakness, He is sufficient. God wants to restore my identity and help me find myself in relation to Him.
My physical illnesses are surface issues. Yes, they suck. Yes, they can be heavy and painful. Yes, I desire to be healed from them. But I want God more than I want physical healing. In the midst of my pain, suffering, and illness, God is enough. If physical healing never comes, God is still enough. No, He is more than enough. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift because He is every good and perfect gift.
After a compassionate, Spirit-led, wonderful group of individuals prayed, sang, and prophesied over me on Thursday, one of them asked, “How do you feel now?” I knew that He was referring to how I felt physically. Was I healed? I took a deep breath, and I said, “Quite honestly, I feel quite a bit worse now physically. Praying takes a lot of energy. But my heart and my mind are renewed, and emotionally and spiritually, I feel like a new woman.” I am not sure how he felt after that prayer, if those precious people who deeply interceeded for me felt like they had failed, or that I had failed, or that God had not come through. I hope not. Their prayer changed me. It strengthed my hope. God flooded me with joy, heart-rest, and spiritual strength as they sang and prayed over me. I have never felt more loved by Jehovah Rapha, my healer-God.
I’m still waiting for physical healing. I have a sense that it is not yet time. And I am okay with that. I will keep asking, and I will keep readily welcoming prayers for physical healing. But of this I am sure: God provides special blessings in the waiting times of our lives.
As I wait, I embrace this promise from Isaiah 40:31: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will walk and not grow weary. They will run and not be faint.