Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Healer Stepping Out from Cessationism

You can't have healing without sickness. ~T.D. Jakes

A week ago, when I was shopping at my favorite little health store, one of the mangers was walking in obvious pain. I really cannot stand to see people in pain and I often feel it from them even when I do not see the obvious signs. I asked her about it and she said she had a doctor's appointment later that day. I asked her to take my hand and we both just simply prayed silently, without fanfare, right next to the cracker section. I felt her pain in my own body as is common with my gift, although it does not always happen. When I was done, much of her pain was gone and she could move freely. I told her it would improve more that day. When I saw her this last Thursday, she thanked me for praying over her, but I said that she should just thank our God, which I know she did. She also said she did not go to the doctor at all, as she was completely healed that day. She is a believing believer.

That is all it takes, a believing believer willing to receive healing.

When I was very young and not often in any church, I did not understand what the differences in denominations were or the differences in philosophies that created them. When you are young there are only the Bible stories of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Samson, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, and Jesus. There are miracles of a sea parting, a virgin birth, sick being healed, oil never running out, angel encounters, even the dead being restored to life. There were people being healed in the name of Jesus and prophecies written. All those things are believed by a little child, they were believed by me, but somewhere along the way I guess I was suppose to grow up and give up my childish faith. I was suppose to figure out, just like there is no Santa Claus, that such miracles happened 2000 years ago and God no longer gave gifts to people as He did then. This is called cessationism; its opposite is continuationism.

I guess I never really grew up or at least I never grew into cessationism although it surrounded me in the churches to which I attended. I thank God that I kept my child-like faith in Him. He can do anything and any way He wants and through anyone He chooses. One thing I noticed is that most miracles were done through people, people who were ordinary except in their faith and willingness to obey their Lord. What I never read in the Bible was that God would stop using miracles through ordinary but surrendered people.

Years ago I had an encounter with my Lord that changed my perspective even more. It happened on the last day of a twelve day fast when I was completely surrendered. It was then that God made me aware of the gift He had given me: healing and words of knowledge in an empathic sense where I can feel another's pain or know what area of the body is in distress or is diseased.

My friends who are not Christian say I am an empathic healer. Some of my Christian friends say that I have the gift of healing prayer. A few Christian friends will call upon me asking for healing, but tell me not to call myself a healer because all healing comes from God and to say "I am a healer," even if I given all the credit of that statement to God, is not proper, or is prideful, or suggests I am not really giving God the glory. It is okay to say you are a priest, rabbi, reverend, or pastor, if you have the credentials, but titles given by God manifested in His works through you, as with a prophet, prophetess, or healer, are basically taboo in mainstream Christianity, or so it seems to me.

I wonder when Jesus said He was the Son of Man if anyone thought He was not giving God the glory, but if He had said He was the Son of God, He would have been thought of as a heretic, even though both titles were true. Sometimes no matter what title used, it will be the wrong way to say it: I could say God gave me the gift of healing prayer or that I am a healer, and both are true. God gave me the gift and the title "healer" identifies it and connects it to me.

So many years I hid this gift because the roots of cessationism runs through many Christian denominations. Even in denominations that believe these gifts of the Spirit are still given, it is just not believed it would be given to them or anyone they know. I have been in cessationist denominations from the time I was a teen until around the age of 30; it was then that my Lord called us to the Church of the Nazarene. Eventually, I found that this was a denomination that branched off the charismatic movement, but toned down as they do not believe in tongues, unless the purpose was to speak to people of a language that was unknown to the one speaking it.

In the Church of the Nazarene, I found a safe haven and even encouragement to use my gift of healing by the pastor and other leaders, but in a quiet way that kept the attention off me and sensationalizing the act. When we moved from Florida into Georgia, I soon learned that at least some of the Nazarene churches here were even more influenced with cessationism. The pastor of closest and first Nazarene church we visited rejected my claims saying that the empathic knowledge was not a named gift in the Bible. We were without a home church for about two years after that.

Having learned to again keep my gift quiet, we tried another Nazarene church that was just too difficult in distance to really be involved, but even there I was not seeing people coming up to the alter for prayer of healing. After much prayer, we were led to a non-denominational church and I suppose many believed in a healing gift there, but I still kept it quiet, never really using it as a ministry.

Later we were led back a Nazarene church that had moved closed to us. It was timely as within just a couple of months the pastor woke one morning and could not use the right side of her body, but it would take a year before they could diagnose her illness that came and went. I prayed over her many times. She would often feel electrical sensations from my hands and get instant relief, but she was never completely healed of it and I think at the heart of it was a demonic attack. I prayed over others at various times, a few were healed completely and immediately, and more were relieved of pain. It was a very small church, so once used there I could not have hidden my gift even if I wanted to do so and I did not feel the Lord wanted me to do so. However, I was the one approaching them, asking them if they would allow me to pray for them, and no one came to me asking for healing—and once when praying over one member she asked me to stop.

Please understand that I am not saying this to make claims of my importance, but I noticed a formula that happened with nearly every healing in the Bible: the healer was asked to heal. The one who needed healing was present and asking for healing or someone came asking for a person who was not present. I have learned through my Lord that healing does not happen if the person who needs it is not willing to receive it. A sign that they are willing to receive is that they will ask.

One of the things that confirmed to me that we were called out of the little Nazarene church we have been for four years and I did not list in the resignation letter is that three people within four months had scheduled surgeries and not one of them asked for healing. Not one came to the altar asking others to pray with them for healing. Even knowing I was a healer, they did not ask me to pray over them. Over the course of the four years we were there, there were several surgeries, but no petitions for healing before them, only asking for prayer that the surgery and recovery went well. Healing so that surgery was not even needed? That was not going to happen. They never gave God the opportunity! I gave up even offering prayer for healing unless strongly prodded by the Spirit, because I knew they were not willing to receive the healing they needed. It was right there. God would not have withheld it from them. He gave every opportunity to them, even to providing a healer among them, and all they had to do was reach out to Him so He could hand this precious gift to them but they would not stretch out their hands in simply asking for the healing. Can you imagine the outreach that little church would have had if people were being healed there?

Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown." (Luke 4:24) Now you would think that a healing would be welcomed, but if Jesus, the Healer, was rejected in his hometown, how can He not know my heartbreak?

Cessionationism has kept so many Christian people suffering because it is a doctrine of unbelieving believers. So many of them cannot be healed because they lack the faith to receive the healing God would have for them. They have proven cessationism to themselves with their own lack of faith of God's works through fellow believers; this is the trap of circular reasoning. It began to trap me also. I began to doubt that I even still had the gift. I wondered often if I am using it in the wrong way and that is why some were not healed. Even though I can feel most of the time, when someone is receiving the healing, I often have felt that I could have done more when they were not receiving it. I have often felt as if I lack the ability to meet a person at his faith level and raise it to the point he will receive the healing—Jesus was so good at this and I have done it, but the believers I was around the most were the ones on which my healing prayers were the least effective. I realize now that I had lost much of my confidence in healing and felt lost as to what the Lord wanted from me.

All it took was a believing believer needing and willing to receive healing in a grocery store and about a three-minute prayer.

Imagine how Jesus felt when He was right there among the people who needed Him so desperately, who thought they were experts on the whole religion thing, yet could not recognize the Son of God, even through the miracles He did! I understand fully why Jesus was angry with them and I was angry as well with my former church, because I saw, I felt, how much they had squelched the Spirit of God, which caused me to doubt myself, my hearing His words to me, this wonderful gift, and my even own beliefs. Now I am just saddened for them. This is a terrible infectious illness that must be cleansed in the churches. Cessationism is a deceptive lie, a sickness to be healed, that comforts those who believe in it so that they will not discover their own lack of faith in God.

It is so very heartbreaking, but today I am thanking God for the one woman who was willing to receive healing, because it was not only she who received something from that healing prayer, but I did as well: I received His purpose back into my life. Perhaps healing is to be my ministry now. Perhaps I am now ready to stop reigning this gift back to appease the cessationists and use it as it pleases my Lord. He gave it to me for a purpose.

~ My Lord, today I pray for the cessationists. I pray that You will heal them and spiritually enlighten them so that they are willing to receive physical healing as needed. I ask You, my Lord, to guide me and use me. Thank you for showing me that I was too concerned about what people would think if they were not healed and to rejoice with the ones who are willing to receive healing. I still need help with this, but I trust in You. ~

4 comments:

  1. I hear you, sister.

    I have been reading along, just too busy [& too tired] to leave sensible comments. ♥♥♥

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    1. I understand...but it is a bit lonely here on the other side of the world. :(

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  2. Good points, I must say. However, my own journey has not been so cut and dried. I think I'm gonna smack the next "man of Gawd" who tells me that I have not been healed or even gotten relief because "I didn't 'receive' it", or because I have "unconfessed sin" (which always refers to sexual things and the exclusion of all else) in my life. This is what I get from the charismatics. However the cessationist will basically aver that Christ died for our sins and is risen, but other than that we're on our own in this life. But wait, there's more! The ones I've really come to resent the most are the good ol' denominational baptist types who proclaim, "Sure, God still heals.......when it is His will. Oops! Almost forgot....it's never his will! Don't tell anyone though." So, let's see if I've got this right: 5 years ago I prayed to receive healing for a heart malady. After believing that I received it, I didn't. So we now establish that it was not His will for me to have normal heart function. A week after the diagnosis, a standard pacemaker was installed in my chest, remedying the problem. So by deduction, we can only come to one logical conclusion: For the last 5 years, I have walked the earth OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD. "Oh well, God uses doctors sometimes" say the fundies. Hmmm.... let's see now, what did God use before the invention of the cardiac pacemaker in about 1967? Before that, God just didn't know what to do, I guess. I just try to keep in mind that ultimately His kingdom is not of this world, and that in THIS life there is one malady that God absolutely NEVER, EVER heals: your final one!

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    1. MKW, I have since written more about healing and it is never really cut and dry. There is no "magic" formula. Todd White, a street healer, believes that healing is dependent on the faith of person praying not the one being prayed for. Perhaps that is true, but over the years I have noticed there is more difficulty getting the unbelieving believer to receive healing. Then there are people like Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been dependent on others since her accident and has not been healed (But what a purposeful, amazing ministry!) and others born with challenges that were not healed but are such amazing people, so maybe it really is not always God will for healing to occur at that particular time...?

      I believe that God can heal all things for anyone, but healing every single person may not serve God's purpose. I was abused as a child and God could have prevented it, but I believe He used those horrible experiences for His purpose and I have had many opportunities to minister to other people who were abused, because I can relate with them. Would I have chosen to be abused knowing that it would serve God better...? I would hope that I would be willing to endure anything for my Lord, but the truth is rather I did not have to do so.

      Perhaps we should be asking the question differently: We ask God to heal us and even why hasn't He healed us, but perhaps we should ask how the healing could be a God-serving action rather than a self-serving one in our lives. Certainly, Jesus was into God-serving purposes rather than his own comfort!

      Still, there is nothing wrong with asking for healing and if we receive not because we ask not then we should ask--I completely believe God could heal your heart and the pacemaker, even the scar, could just be gone--but how much better such a healing would be if that healing in your life had a special purpose in God's plan.

      You also are right that we will all die usually of something and I would think the months, weeks, and even just the few moments of dying is not a pleasant experience and seems too long a process...but certainly short in the eternal life!

      May God make His purpose apparent in your life and keep your eyes set on His Kingdom so you can share it with everyone, MKW.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.