I always start out with great intentions of writing short, catchy posts for people who don’t like to read. But I just have so much to say! So bear with me on this one, it’s very close to my heart. I’d like to share a little of my story and my heart in this series, especially when it comes to how the church should respond to healing.
A Little History
I grew up Baptist/non-denominational, at least according to my family tradition. I don’t really know what I was before I got saved, which wasn’t until I was 19. I had a conversion experience of sorts when I was young, but that’s a story for a different time. My life was radically changed by God, salvation, and mercy when I was 19. My family was attending a non-denominational church at the time. It was the perfect environment for my faith to grow and my desire for God to deepen.
I moved out of state to go to college and chose a private Christian university. Little did I know the season of spiritual growth that awaited me there. Before I got to the university, I knew a lot about Jesus and his saving work on the cross. I knew God was the Father, and I knew the Holy Spirit was in there somewhere. But I didn’t really understand the Trinity, and especially not the Holy Spirit.
Unbeknownst to me, the Holy Spirit had been present with me since I was little. He had protected me, guided me, attempted to woo me, and even communicated with me. But I didn’t know it was Him. How else could I explain getting saved all by myself sitting on my bed one cold winter night? For a stubborn, independent woman, surrendering my entire life was a big deal. I could not have done it alone.
Experiencing Him in College
So now we’re into the story…I’m at college, going to chapel, looking for a church home on Sundays, and going to all kinds of worship events weekly. I am being challenged academically for the first time in my life, which I am actually enjoying. And in some classes, reading the Bible is homework. I’m in heaven. My 4 years at university were one of the biggest and most explosive seasons of spiritual growth I have ever had.
Looking back, I can see how God was slowly loosing the ties that held me captive to unexpressive worship, fear of man, spiritual confusion, and apathy. I looked around me and saw such joy in the faces of others in worship, in conversations in class, and I thought – this is where I want to be.
Approached by a Stranger
One day, a few months after I move onto campus, I am sitting on the Library steps journaling. I am experiencing this sense of anxiety that I can’t identify. In the middle of writing a sentence, I feel a tap on my shoulder. A kind looking man is sitting down next to me. He explains he’s from a ministry school, and they visit campuses offering to pray for people. His name is Nathan, and he offers to pray for me. I accept.
I probably explain to him a little about what I was just writing about. In our conversation, he mentions a woman named Heidi Baker, who I’ve never heard of. The next day, I read one of her books and fall in love with her.
One Year Later
Fast forward a year or so. A big conference is coming to town, and I hear Heidi Baker will be one of the speakers. I’m excited and decide to go. When my husband and I arrive (he was my boyfriend at the time), we are the last two people to be allowed in to the overflowing conference room. We were at fire code limits, which was a little over 1000 people. We find a seat on the floor against the back wall. Worship begins.
At some point, a man hops up on stage and begins speaking words of healing over the crowd. I don’t know who he is (later I find out he runs an internationally known ministry), but I am intrigued by what he’s saying. As the crowd is responding to what he is saying, he instructs us to place our hands on any part of our bodies that need healing. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, so I simply open my hands and pray, “God, I receive whatever you have for me.”
His Response to My Prayer
Moments pass, people jump up and run to the front, sharing their healing experience into the microphone. We’re clapping, and I’m astonished – God is actually working, right here, right now?
Then the man says something I will never forget:
“There is someone here, who injured both of their knees, maybe one worse than the other, in a sports accident. You are being healed right now, in the name of Jesus.”
Before he finished what he said, my ears perked up and I felt a lightning bolt of recognition hit my chest. In a room of a thousand people, this man was talking about ME. And my knees.
[I had nerve damage in my knees from track in high school. My doctors threw up their hands and said they didn’t know how to fix it. I got used to some pain when I would bend my knees, go running, work out, ride horses, or even just walk in the mall. I had just resigned to living with it, and it wasn’t that big of a deal to me.]
I started weeping as my knees started to tingle. There was no doubt — the finger of God was touching and healing my knees. The worship team went back into “How He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us so.” And I cried as He healed my broken knees. His love poured over me, and I realized this is what He had for me. I had left it up to Him with my prayer – “whatever you have for me, I will receive” – and I received it.
Eventually worship came to a close, and we all took our seats. I was able to sit on the floor, cross-legged for hours, which I never could have done without pain before. I knew then that my knees were truly healed. I can honestly say I remember very little of what Heidi Baker had to say that night.
An Extra Little God-thing
And my favorite part of the story — during some announcements, an Australian man named Nathan gets on stage, and I turn to John with a disbelieving grin on my face. THAT’S HIM! That’s the man who found me on the Library steps and prayed for me. I made sure to find Nathan afterwards and tell him about what had happened.
This one experience changed my life. God as Healer was no longer some theory I discussed in theology class. His power was no longer bound to the pages of my beloved New Testament. He was working, now. This day. This moment. This is a theology I did not grow up with, but it all changed in an instant.
After the night was over, John and I got in the car to drive back to campus. Before he started the car, I said, “Something happened to me tonight.” With tears gathering again in my eyes, “I think God healed my knees.” His mouth dropped open. I told him what I heard and what I felt. He said, “You know that’s what happens, right? Sometimes when God touches people, they feel tingling.” I laughed and said, “Of course I didn’t know that!”
I was a child when it came to the active power of God in our daily lives. But I think He saw that little seed of child-like faith, planted when I was just 3 years old, and He chose to respond to my prayer, “Whatever you have for me.”
So that’s a little part of my story – find out what happened when I started to share the good news with people in part 2.