Posted the picture here on Facebook yesterday for a variety of reasons! Anyone who knows me will know that I believe in healing 100%, that it’s God’s WILL that we’re healed. There are so many Scriptures that tell us (Is 53:5, Ps 103:5, Matt 10:1 & 7, Mark 16:18, Matt 8:16, Matt 27:52 – to mention but a few). Historically, apart from a very brave, tiny percentage of people, including such giants of our faith Smith Wigglesworth, George Jeffries, John G. Lake, Kathryn Kuhlmann, A A Allen etc., healing – along with every other gift in 1 Corinthians 12, was virtually ignored in the western world.
I remember as a teenager, back in the 60’s, reading ‘Like a Mighty Wind’ by Mel Tari: it was, then, like reading a totally exaggerated novel to a young man raised in a culture where the Holy Spirit only existed since the end of the Bible, solely to ‘convict men of sin’ by way of salvation. In that era, there were a few who were willing to raise their heads above the parapet and be shot at, because they stepped out in faith and prayed for the sick – the same Kathryn Kuhlmann, Trevor Dearing, my good friend Ian Andrews (who was my initial ‘inspiration’ to step out and be shot at myself, through a conference he spoke at in 1983, and has subsequently been both an inspiration and encourager).
Thank God for the renewal that occurred in the 70’s, and especially for the wonderful John Wimber, who in the mid 1980’s, came to the United Kingdom, and introduced us ordinary mortals, who had no idea that God could do the miraculous through us, by telling us about Power Evangelism, Power Healing, and more.
Now, there are many thousands – tens of thousands, I’m sure – who are willing to stand up and be shot at, in order to see God move. The picture I posted – nicked from someone else’s post! – sparked a whole train of thoughts in me. HEALING IS STILL CONTROVERSIAL. Why? I’m just back, as you know, from a trip where God turned up and did the ‘stuff’, as John Wimber used to wonderfully call it, in Australia: prior to Australia, God did it in Colombia, Mexico, and Colombia again, in April….
….yet there are very FEW invitations to churches in the western world (I know I’m not the world’s greatest preacher, but I can tell stories! – maybe it’s our obsession with ‘being taught’ that has stopped the Holy Spirit moving? C S Lewis once said ‘We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught’. Most of the western world church is obese with teaching, and suffering malnutrition where power ministry is concerned. I won’t say where, as it wouldn’t be right, but I’ve spoken in meetings in the western world, in churches, where the leaders of those churches have been ‘O.K’ with ‘using a room in the premises’ BUT – with the very clear edict that it wasn’t to be advertised, most certainly NOT advertised as a meeting that had anything to do with those specific churches. WHY? IN CASE IT DIDN’T WORK, AND PEOPLE DIDN’T GET HEALED.
And then we wonder why people don’t get healed! With fear like that ruling the church, how the heck is God EVER going to work? And WHY WOULD HE WORK?
Healings and miracles are utterly astonishing gifts: given to the Church to prove to the Christians in Waiting that God is a miracle-working God, to draw people to Jesus when His name is lifted high, and we – blessed, fortunate mortals – have the promise that ‘anyone who believes in me WILL do what I have been doing, and greater things you will do than I have been doing, because I’m going to the Father’ and ‘I’ll send you the one who will do it through you’….
Four of five years ago, in asking God to give me an answer to the often-asked question, ‘Why doesn’t God do here what you talk about him doing in the other ‘three-quarters world’ ,I KNOW that God told me that I had to repent. At that time, I thought that I was ‘up to date’ with my repentance issues (I try and keep short accounts with God! – it’s easier that way!). Asking Him ‘What have I missed?’, the answer came back: ‘Repent of the unbelief you’ve inherited by the omission of what you were NOT taught when you first got saved’. I wasn’t quite sure that that was my fault (!), but it only took me seconds to realise that we live in a culture of generational, inherited unbelief. And if Jesus ‘could do no miracles because of the unbelief’ in Nazareth, how on earth are we?
The fear of healing is rooted in unbelief. We need to repent of it. In places where God is doing the stuff, day in, day out: raising the dead, saving mega-thousands a day, there IS no unbelief. I can still see Chinese Pastor, Samuel Lamb, holding his Bible right in my face, saying, ‘Paul, if it is in here, it’s GOING to happen: it will either happen BECAUSE of you, or IN SPITE of you’. I know, that day in 1987, what I chose…..
Healing has also been given a bad name by people – again, no names as I don’t want to risk ‘touching God’s anointed ones’ – who SEEM to almost SELL healing. Some who pull people out of wheelchairs, send people ‘flying’ without any knowledge of who they are, what their problem is…. I can only say, for myself, that my ‘style’ is to ‘engage’ with the people I pray for – ask their names, find out a bit about them, give them time – however long the ‘ministry time might take.
AND…. of course, some don’t SEEM to be healed, and some DON’T get healed. The latter is a whole other blog! The problem with the former – maybe both – is so often that our expectations are in the wrong place. There’s a reason why the Apostle Paul separated ‘healings’ and ‘miracles’ in the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Of course, miracles covers all sorts of ‘phenomena’ – from nature, to provision (financial and otherwise), and, of course, ‘instant’ miraculous healing. Healings, by the very nature of the word, suggests a process. We all want to see – especially in our own experience – the instant healing, but sometimes, God does it slowly, in a process. The key is not to say ‘It didn’t work’, or to declare ‘I’m healed’ when you’re patently NOT healed: the key is to say ‘thank you’ to God for the measure of healing (even if it is imperceptible there and then), and ‘thank you for what you’re going to continue to do, Lord’. That leaves the door open for God to continue, whereas to say ‘It didn’t work’ closes it.
I wish (maybe I don’t really!) that I could explain why sometimes it’s instant, sometimes a process. I can’t. That’s God’s decision. What I DO know is (again, from Chinese Pastors who see miracles and healings EVERY day) is that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR GOD NOT TO ANSWER PRAYER.
With people not immediately ‘miracled’, I’d never tell them to declare ‘I’m healed!’ when everyone can see they’re not. That’s absurd, and actually damages the ministry of healing. Thank God for what He’s done, and say honestly that you’re a work in progress. In my own situation, I KNEW earlier this year that the ‘prognosis’ of bowel cancer would not come to pass: whether or not I had it at the time of the first ‘threat’, I’ll never know: but by the tie my rear end photo-shoot was over, there was nothing. With my knees, though, it’s a different story. Humanly, they’re utterly wrecked, I should (according to a senior arthritic physiotherapist) not even be able to stand on them, let alone walk, let alone travel from the UK to South America to Latin America to Australia to Europe (France next week, YEAH!!!). That I CAN do those things is because they’re a work in progress: whilst I have had the utter delight of seeing hundreds of knees healed of major stuff (including steel bolts, pins, and plates disappear), mine still give me gyp, as my Gran would have said! Pretty extreme gyp, sometimes, if I’m honest! BUT they ARE getting better… and I thank God for that, I thank Him for the fact that they will continue to get better. But even if the healing stopped right here right now, I won’t give up doing what God’s called me to, neither will I give up believing that full healing is not only possible, but probable.
The day I get jealous, if that’s the right word, when someone else’s knees are healed, that’s probably the day when my own healing stalls, or stops. I am genuinely thrilled when someone, whose knees might not even be as bad as mine, gets healed. Smith Wigglesworth suffered extreme pain for 6 years with kidney stones, and, I believe, 27 years of hemorrhoids: he often said that he was in considerably more pain than many of the people God healed through him. Being involved in healing doesn’t exempt you from being sick, suffering pain, or getting a cold. In fact, head above the parapet makes you a more obvious target for the enemy to try to stop….
Don’t dishonour God by announcing ‘I’m healed’ when you’re not: conversely, don’t close down the window from heaven that the Holy Spirit wants to use to progressively heal you, by declaring ‘I’m NOT healed’. Tell the truth: I’m a work in progress….
Take heart in another C S Lewis pearl: ‘Affliction often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny’. I’m 61 years old in 10 weeks’ time: I have an extraordinary destiny ahead of me, and at least, I pray, another 30 years+ ‘doing the stuff’ of laying my hands on the sick, and seeing them get well. It’s a promise from God….