Monday, 12 May 2014

Re-opening the wells of healing

In our local church community, we've been using the story of Isaac in Genesis 26, re-opening wells which had been dug in a previous generation by his father Abraham.
This narrative is a helpful prompt as we discover again some of the life of God that has been in our history. This is true in a number of areas, but no more so than with healing miracles. Although they have been significant in our past, we want them again in our present, and into our future.

The need for us to dig once more into what we once confidently drew water from is apparent, as is our need to clear away the rubble of wrong thinking and the opposition of a cynical culture. Should either mindset prevail in a local church, the well of healing will remain blocked. Instead of being an oasis of life giving water for the thirsty, we become a cynical Nazareth, the kind of place where even Jesus found it hard to work miracles because of their unbelief.
Our battle is to decide which water source we want to draw from. Our culture, our experience, or the old well which promises living water and life? The answer is easy to give, but the necessary action is harder to take.

None of us are looking for disappointment, we all would rather find quick fixes, and move onto something new when things don't quite pan out the way we'd hoped. Unfortunately, that's not the way through on healing. Drawing from this well invites us into people's lives and painful realities. It pulls us down into deep pastoral questions, doubts, fears and unresolved pain. It's a pursuit that is best not started, certainly not half heartedly, as it is another one of those journeys where God has decided there is much more to learn on the way, than just the mere outcomes of whether someone gets healed or not when we pray.

Terry Virgo summarises wisely when he says this in his 'Spirit Filled Church.'
"Taking such a journey also leads to pain, disappointment, frustration and mystery. You come face to face with the fact that so many people suffer daily, carry huge burdens into their daily life, agonise over sick relatives, and yearn to be made well.
It's probably easier to leave the whole subject alone, and not put oneself in a context of pressure, anguish, embarrassment and vulnerability, but, on the other hand, Jesus said, 'Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father.'"

Whether you are at the start of such a journey, or are growing in confidence, there is nothing quite like swallowing hard, stretching out your hand to pray for healing, making yourself vulnerable and dependent on the God who can suddenly seem far off in that moment. Aware of the huge weight of longing for breakthrough in the person that you are praying for. That is exactly the trepidation I felt as I approached this man, Romulus at a conference last week. After two unsuccessful back surgeries, longing for Jesus to do what the Doctors had been unable to.

Who in their right mind would step up to such a task? Only those who believe that wonderful promise of greater works from Jesus the healer. Such courageous believers will push through the rubble and get to the water source time and again for the sake of a breakthrough in others. Will we be numbered among them, persevering as we dig and draw afresh, learning to walk in  this wonderful gift for God's people?

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