I am getting older, but I’m way too young to be having a forgetful moment like this one. I was sitting at a stop sign trying to remember where I was located? What’s my name? Where am I going? Which way was I suppose to turn?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our lives get overwhelmed, stressed, busy, and in a moment we zone out.
I had only driven this route a hand full of times and was confident as I traveled back into the city that I could remember the directions without the help of my GPS. Not recognizing anything around me, I asked Siri to give me directions back to the office. Sure enough, 20 minutes later, after enjoying the new sites I didn’t recall from my drive in, I realized I took the wrong turn, but still ended up at the right location.
This is not too dissimilar to my life. I’ve decided to follow the way I think I should go, only to end up taking the long route to the same destination God had planned for me. If only I had consulted with Him before leaving instead of trying to find my own way, it may not have taken me as long to get there. He certainly knows the way better than Siri.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning, as my friends and I were greeted at the door by the sweet sounds of southern hospitality. The decor of the church reminded me of growing up in the ’80s where we slept soundly under the pews while the loud hell, fire, and brimstone preacher delivered his message. Potluck smells filled our noses as we dreamed of the savory country fried chicken and gravy cooking in the cast-iron skillet for the church potluck following the service.
Even as a visitor this particular day, I felt like I was at home. The music refreshed my soul as we sung old hymns like, “Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.” and “Oh, how He touched me and made me whole.” If you needed prayer, then the altars were always open. No invitation was needed and this morning was no different.
Church members were met by the pastor and church leaders as they began to walk down the aisle. I watched from the third row as more people filled the altars after the pastor’s invitation, “If you need anything from God today, come forward for prayer.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a man moving slowly towards the front, for obvious reasons. He was bent over at the waist at about a 45-degree angle and his face painted with pain and weakness. Trying not to stare, I focused my gaze back on the members at the front of the church already receiving prayer. Immediately I heard God say, “Khristina, I want you to pray for that man.”
The conversation quickly ended with my response, “Lord, it’s okay, he will be prayed for by the pastor and church leaders. These people don’t know me. If I walk up there and pray for that man in this old school, country church, that pastor may reign fire and brimstone down on me.”
After a few minutes of chatting with my friend, I saw the man return to his seat in the same condition that he was in when he had slowly walked to the altar.
I heard God say again, “Khristina, I want you to pray for that man.”
I watched as the line of people in front of me grew longer and longer until it wrapped around the inside of these ancient church walls built in the 1800s. They weren’t waiting to see me, but to experience healing from the Ancient of Days. One by one, myself and a team of three Hungarian church members prayed for each person as God healed them of headaches, vision impairment, back pain, and other illnesses. An hour had past when I looked up to see Marian. She leaned heavily on a cane as she slowly walked towards us.
The interpreter explained how the pain was originating in the center of her left leg and went all the way up to her lower back. I asked if she would raise her slacks up so I could see for myself what she was sharing. She agreed and what I saw before me was something I had never laid eyes on in my life. From the center of her leg branched out multiple, deep, dark blue veins showing through her pantyhose. It looked like a New York subway mapped out on her pale skin. In complete awe of what my eyes beheld, I starred at her leg. I had never seen veins protruding like they were forming an identity of their own.
So I waited…not to allow more time for me to take in this site or to commit this moment to memory. Not to think about what I would say next or contemplate whether God was big enough to heal this woman.
I waited on the Lord.
My interpreter waited.
Fifty people waited in line behind her for prayer.
The midnight rain was the culprit for the muddy hillside we were hiking on this warm, humid morning. Each step seemed like the last before we slid down the side of the steep mountainside, though it didn’t slow us down much. Neither did the long skirt I had to wear for this journey, which kept getting in the way of using my hands for additional support. The rain finally slowed as we soon reached the top and began to make our way through the tall grass and trees. Our destination took us to a small humble abode of a 90-year-old man and his wife, Estuerdo and Evelyn.
Myself, two American friends, and three Guatemalan friends were excited to see what God had planned for this couple. The last two days were filled with miracles in more than 100 people. We saw God heal them of all kinds of sicknesses. While reminiscing of God’s goodness, we explained to our Guatemalan friends, “when we reach this couples’ home, you will be the one to pray for them to receive healing. God can use you just as He can use us to lay hands on the sick and see them healed. God does not show favor.” Romans 2:11
My heartbeat skipped as I stopped to take in the beauty of our Creator’s masterpiece before me. Surely Estuerdo and Evenlyn would be billionaires with this prime real estate in any Western country located 140,000 feet above sea level and nothing but breathtaking mountainsides touched only by the sun.
As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me. First of all, that’s kinda weird. I don’t want someone living inside me. My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me? Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.
To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow. If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”
I couldn’t go to the movies,
I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?),
I could only listen to Christian music,
I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
I had to pray every day for one hour,
I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
I could only wear certain types of clothes,
Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
and the list goes on and on.
I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.
If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven. I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.
All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him. I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason. Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.
Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.
The paint was chipping on the weathered concrete structure as we entered the Ukrainian church. You would never guess this was where 100 people gathered every week, as it looked very different from most Western churches. I imagine in the nearly 70 years of Communist rule, building church sanctuaries was not on their list of priorities. The lack of Western luster didn’t offend God either because he showed up and showed out this particular day. After teaching one hour about God’s desire to heal the sick and perform miracles, through my interpreter, I asked if anyone needed prayer for healing.
The first couple in line pastored a local Ukrainian church that teaches, “Healing is not for people today. Healing was something that Jesus and the disciples did in Bible times, but it was not meant for us to experience today. The wife said, “I’ve had severe back pain for five months. I realized during your teaching today that I had sin in my life. I repented of the sin while you were teaching and my back started to feel a little better, but the pain is still there. Can you pray for my back that God would completely heal me?”
My heart nearly skipped a beat as I listened to her next few words. I’ve heard these words many times. I have lived my life by these words until God revealed His truth to me. She said, “I think God is punishing me for my sin, that’s why I am in pain.”
WoW! Even now as I write down her words, I can feel her pain. Soon compassion for her overwhelmed me. “That is not true! That is a lie from the enemy, satan. God does not make people sick! God does not punish people with sickness,” I said.
Take a look a the scriptures below. Do you see a theme?
“He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.” Psalms 103:3
“Jesus spoke and the demons left them, and he healed all the sick.” Matthew 8:16
“Jesus went everywhere in Galilee….preaching the good news….healing all the people’s diseases and sicknesses.” Matthew 4:23
It’s a three letter word that we should repeat over and over as it pertains to healing. It’s the word ALL. “ALL” means “every, wholly, entirely, completely, everything.” It doesn’t mean some people or just specific sicknesses, but ALL people and ALL sickness.
In Psalms 103:3, it says “He[God] forgives ALL your sins, and heals ALL your diseases.” So, the same faith that it takes for you to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and receive him as your Savior, is the same faith it takes to believe He can heal you. There is no magic method, formula, words, or actions that should be followed to receive healing from God. You only need to believe in faith. If you are a child of God, then you already have that faith. The enemy will immediately try to come in and create doubt by telling you lies. We have a choice to believe him and make his lies our truth or resist him and choose to believe God.
What if you don’t believe in the bible? Let’s take a look at these lies from a logical standpoint. God doesn’t make people sick! Why? Because He’s not sick. You can’t give what you don’t have.
If sickness is from God and in some way this brings Him glory, why would it not bring Him more glory if we were even sicker?
Why would hospitals not be places of revival where people are giving their lives to Christ?
Do you have children of your own, nieces, nephews, etc.? If they were disobeying you, would you give them pneumonia, cancer, or some other disease until they did what you told them to do? NO, of course not. You would be arrested for child abuse and your children taken away from you. You love your children and would do anything to protect them and keep them safe. Often times sparing no expense to ensure their health and safety. If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are considered a child of God. Why would he make you sick to teach you something? That’s just stinking thinking!!!
I could see the look of astonishment and hope on her face. Could it be true? Could God really heal her?
She went on to explain her pain was so severe that she could only bend over at a ten-degree angle, which made it hard to pick up things, properly bend to sit in a chair and do everyday tasks. So, with her permission, I laid my hands on her back and prayed that God’s healing power would flow through her body and all muscles, tissue, ligaments, and bones would be restored to their normal length and strength.
The humid, Philippines air flowed through the open window as I wiped the sticky, sweat from my face. Good thing no one else was in the room to witness my slobber on the pillow. I could hear the earthly sounds of crickets, roosters, and tropical leaves blowing in the wind. Barely able to lift my head, I decided to stay for another moment gaining my strength and preparing for the gut-wrenching pain soon to overwhelm my body. Exhaustion coupled with the tropical heat had not produced the relief I needed from this deep sleep. Instead, I was faced with the reality that I may not be able to get out of this bed. Just like most of humanity, my bladder wasn’t privy to the news of my back pain. It was functioning just fine.
Perhaps if I rolled out of the bed and used those fancy military maneuvers I saw on TV as a child, I could make it to the bathroom that was less than four feet from me. Clinching the bed frame with all my strength, I pulled myself closer to the edge of the bed. In a moment of relief, I thought to myself, using my wonder woman accent, “I can do this! I will not let my bladder win this battle!” Quickly, I started to arise in a sitting position, only to discover my wonder woman skills had failed me. The excruciating pain took over my lower back and landed me on the wooden floor.
How did this happen? I’m young. I haven’t participated in any risky behaviors lately, that I could remember. I just woke up one morning with this pain that increasing began to take over my body moment by moment, day by day for the past two weeks. I couldn’t bend over, sit down, or even walk.
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