So, going back over the last several posts tonight, it struck me that I have once again fallen behind in doing the writing I need to do here. We’ve been to two more churches since last I wrote (Corey recovered mostly from his allergic reaction, and discovered interesting new things about poisonous plants that allowed the identification of poison ivy that looks NOTHING like the poison ivy we know and hate). I will talk about those, and the details of why God has sent us wandering in the coming posts. I want to say coming days, but I am unsure about that, and before I can talk of all those things, there are some things I need to share. And some other things I need to repent of, primarily the doubt that has kept me silent on what I need to share tonight.
Several months ago, I mentioned in Poor, Sick and Praising that God had led me to quit smoking, and at the time, I had suffered no ill effects. In particular, I mentioned then that my ulcerative colitis, which smoking has kept controlled for nearly 20 years, was still not flaring up. That began to change in June, but wasn’t terribly troublesome, as it was minor difficulties now and then, not a daily thing. By the time we got back from South Dakota, it was still not daily, and still not severe, but was getting more noticeable. By the time we got back from Maine, it was beginning to interfere with my day to day life.
We’ve been back a month now, and the disruption is getting to be daily and extended. There have been days when I am dysfunctional, for lack of a better word, the entire day. Most days, I’m non-functional for an hour or two in the morning. Typically, I don’t plan to leave the house these days, or work on anything, until at least noon, just to be on the safe side. With reasonable planning, and patience on my part, that was working. Until this week. For two days, I’ve been non-functional, spending most of the day curled up on the couch because being still and curled up laying down typically keeps my stomach calm.
Now, I’m not saying this to complain. But to actually lay the groundwork for the thing I need to repent from. Because as of right this moment, I am sure that most of you reading this are probably thinking I need to go to the doctor. Especially those of you who know me well enough to know that the doctors found a med that has worked for me the last two times I started having flares (almost 20 years ago was the last one). And especially my family who knows what this illness is capable of doing if it does not get healed. And here’s the problem. I can’t go to the doctor. Not because I can’t afford it (though I can’t), because the financial end of this has already been offered and is available if I go.
It is because God said not to. Which sounds like crazy talk to most people, even hardcore Christians, in this day and age in this country. That statement brings to mind the conversation I had with my father about the same time I stopped smoking that had to do with Corey. He went off all of his medication around the same time. Mostly because we couldn’t afford it, but in reality, he also knows he can get help with that when he needs it. And he did, a month and a half later when his sickness was kicking back up and prayer was not stopping it. But, when we went to fill his prescriptions, we discovered that all of them had gone up, and the only one we had enough for at the time was the medicine to control the cell growth from his cancer. He started back on those, and we prayed. He’s now been to the doctor since then, and his numbers were all great, even without the antibiotic (which they’d been contemplating getting rid of six months ago to see if he could go without it).
At the time, when I talked to my Dad, he said something perfectly legitimate and natural in response to Corey being off his meds. He said that there was nothing in the Bible that says you can’t take your medicine while you wait for your prayers to be answered. Which, to some extent, is very true. And before I finish the rest of what God is telling me I need to say as part of this process, I want to be clear. In general, I don’t think it is sinful for people to take medicine, see a doctor, or otherwise avail themselves of modern scientific advances. Unless God is directly telling you not to. I am not writing this to tell anyone they need to go off their meds. I am not writing this to tell you you are a sinner if you don’t give up all medical care. That’s really not the point of this.
The point of this is that as I pondered what my Dad had said, I got very squirmy, as I always do when I find myself in theological opposition to my Dad (a seriously rare and almost unheard of thing). Because, sometimes, in the Bible, things that are not normally sinful are indeed a sin. I often think of Jesus in the wilderness and the devil telling him to turn rocks into bread as the example. But there are others, particularly Moses using his staff to break the rock strikes me as an example. He had used the staff tons of times before that in doing God’s will. He held it out over the water to part the Red Sea, and he used it as a prop or symbol, during his encounters with Pharaoh, and in leading the Israelites. But, in the wilderness, God told him to tell the people God was providing the water, and to speak to the rock. In his frustration, he relied on his staff, and missed out on the promised land.
God is telling me not to go to the doctor. I’ve been praying about this a lot. Because quite honestly, I don’t like being sick. Especially when I know there is a “cure” that can make the symptoms go away. I don’t like worrying my husband who hates it when I am sick. I don’t like worrying my kids, or having my son think I’m a little nuts when I tell him God’s telling me I can’t go to the doctor. More, people I love and trust as people seeking God have asked me am I sure it’s God and not the devil trying to take me out of the game. When these people ask me such things, I have to stop and ask myself. But, there’s a reason I keep getting no for an answer, and that God keeps pointing me to Scripture about trust, obedience and healing.
When I quit smoking, it was because I asked God to demonstrate He still heals in the physical sense. I was asking for Corey to be healed, but what He did was demand I trust Him with my own healing. This is still a part of that particular miracle. And the reason He is telling me that right now it would be sin for me, though it isn’t always for everybody, is that I asked for His healing, without reliance on other things. And specifically including Him making sure the colitis wasn’t a problem anymore. Going to the doctor right now would be settling for seeking man instead of God. It would be putting my trust in man instead of God. It would be insisting that I know better. It would be a lack of faith in His willingness and ability to heal, and His promises that being a disciple of Christ comes with being able to heal the flesh as well as the Spirit. It would be settling for being functional instead of remaining faithful until He makes my life a testimony to His glory by making me whole.
The other thing that comes to me, and also sounds crazy, when I pray is that there is a reason my brothers and sisters in Christ are going to need that testimony. One of the things I’ve noticed is missing in the churches so far? Healing. Even those who believe in it still speak of doctors. In one breath they speak of God healing them, and the next seek His healing for something else wrong, or for the same thing recurring, or for continued healing on something that isn’t healed. They seek for doctors to give them answers. They seek for doctors to have wisdom and for God to work through their medical training. And there is a lack of healing, though there is mitigation of symptoms. The only healing I have actually seen has been when they have finally given up seeking man’s solutions and placed their bodies and souls into the hands of their Savior. That’s when I’ve seen a miracle.
A day is coming when the certainty that God heals is going to be critical to the survival of the children of God in this nation. There will come a day in the not too distant future that we will increasingly have less and less access to our medicines and health care. Where the people of God will suffer because the science they are relying on right now will no longer be available, or fail if it is available. Our only hope will be the certain knowledge that God is the Healer. That He heals without need of doctors or medicines, though He lets you have those if you must for now.
When that day comes, we will need witnesses. Those who have seen with their eyes and are willing to testify with their mouths to the healing power of God. Those who have learned by doing to pray like we believe. To ask with the certainty that God will do. Those who have been given the faith to believe by God.
So, here I sit, two days into feeling pretty incapacitated, and a couple of months into flares, standing on the promise that God will heal this body, in the flesh, because His Word proclaims that truth, over and over and over again. I stand in faith that He will do this not because I am worthy, and not by my authority to command God, which I have none. He will do this not because I imagine or wish it to be so. And not because He is a genie in a bottle who grants miracles at our wish. He will do this because I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene who sends me into the world to proclaim the glory of God and who promised healing as a sign of the glory of God. And because He has given me the faith to know that He is always faithful to His promises for His glory.
Father, I repent for not proclaiming your power and wonder for so long. I repent for being unwilling to share this struggle because I was unwilling to explain why I wouldn’t go to the doctor for fear of what people would think. I repent for being worried about looking like a fool because I lacked faith in your faithfulness. I repent Father, for my whining and rebellion. And Lord I praise You because You indeed are glorious. In Jesus Name, forgive me Father, amen.
Be blessed and be a blessing.