Some of my favorite stories in the Bible are the ones where people are healed.
Not only is it incredible to read of God’s healing power but also the various ways in which he chooses to accomplish it. From a simple word spoken to making a mud pack, Jesus demonstrated that there is not just one method for him to use. Sometimes the person being healed did not have to do anything but ask and at other times there was a specific step of faith required. As I have been battling with chronic pain and illness over the last year I have continually asked for healing, hoping that was all it would take but the journey has ended up being more like steps of faith.
My testimony of healing seems to be connected with the healing story of a man named Naaman in the Old Testament.
Elisha sent a messenger to say to Naaman, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 2 Kings 5:10
This man was told he could be healed from his disease but it would require a step of faith; a process of humility and obedience that included complete cleansing in a very muddy river. As I prayed I somehow felt God tell me that mine would come in a process also. I even had others who, when praying for me, had been given this part of scripture for my encouragement. I just never fully understood exactly how Naaman’s story was going to play out in my story; though I was willing to go to Israel and the Jordan River if need be. What I have seen instead is that my “washing in the river” began with going to my first doctor’s visit.
The first dip included the washing of my bad habits.
My doctor did many tests and by them knew I needed to clean up my unhealthy eating habits. I had to finally give up gluten, dairy, and eggs which had been the staples of my diet (I mean I was raised on a dairy farm). Next went the coffee, processed food and sugars which were always my go to when I needed a pick me up. With that the doctor added several supplements and hormones that my blood tests had shown to be severely lacking. With these she sought to restore balance to my entire system. I was a bit discouraged as she made me understand that since it had taken a lifetime for me to make a mess of my system it would also take a long time for it to be improved. Soon a major surgery was needed to reduce some of my symptoms however it actually caused most of them to worsen. Finally in February I was introduced to some great natural health products and my husband and I decided I should try them even though they were a bit expensive; we felt it was worth it if they helped. We both were excited as we saw some new changes within a couple of weeks of using them. But I knew that this was just the first dip in my “Jordan River” of healing.
Next dip came with some washing of my trust levels.
If you know me you probably understand that I am one that takes work very seriously. I have learned to trust in my abilities to get me through. I tend to take on not only my responsibilities but others also, which has lead to some unsafe stress levels. So along with the changes in my diet my health forced me to change my work patterns and increase the amount of rest I allowed myself. One of the hardest choices I had to make in this healing process was to quit a great job and on sheer faith believe God would provide financially. It was not easy when I felt I had always been able to provide the finances I needed. I had to learn more complete trust as I dipped into the muddy waters of waiting on God’s provision. More healing came as my husband and I witnessed resources come from many unexpected places; a faith building experience. Yet it was still not time for me to get out of the flow of the”river” that God had me in.
Down I went again for the washing of my surrender and obedience.
At the beginning of this month I had made some improvements (going from 2-3 migraines a week to only 2 in a month!) and I felt a nudge from God to take a leap of faith and apply for a job; one where I could still help people but that would not be overly taxing on my aging body. As I started through the application process I knew that if I was to get either of these jobs I would need much more healing than I currently had. Right then I chose to surrender my fears and obey what I felt God was telling me to do even while I still felt quite a bit of fatigue and pain . After more than 3 weeks, and with no further improvement in my health, I had still not heard a thing from either job application I had submitted. It was time to surrender to God’s timetable and continue to dip in his “river”.
Then, about a week ago, the healing process suddenly increased.
It was a Sunday morning and I was asked by a friend to take her place on the Altar Prayer Team I am a member of. I reluctantly agreed because, though I was not feeling capable, I felt that inner nudge of the Spirit that I could depend on him. Near the end of the service a woman came for prayer with a health problem and was seeking God for healing. I started right in because I love bringing people to God for this purpose. This time something very unusual happened; as I finished my prayer a tingling sensation went from the top of my head to my feet. Not telling anyone, my first thought and prayer was “that’s weird, I wonder what that was?” Getting no particular answer from God I just passed it off as the chills and went home. However, Monday morning it seemed like I had more energy than I had had for a long time and I began to pray a bit harder, seeking answers about the experience I had the day before. With each prayer all I seemed to hear from God was “it has begun”. By Tuesday I was shocked to receive a call from one of the jobs I had applied for and we set up a phone interview. On Wednesday the other place I had applied called to set up an in-person interview. With each day I felt an energy and excitement I could not explain.
Then Friday came; not just any Friday but my birthday and Good Friday all in one.
My husband and I were able to spend the day shopping and eating at our favorite restaurant and I even had enough energy remaining to go to the Good Friday service. Normally, I would have been too overwhelmed from a day like that to do anything but collapse into bed. At the end of the service our Elders offered prayer for healing and I felt a distinct nudge of the Holy Spirit that I should go and bring my husband for support. It was a nice but fairly low key time of prayer and I was anointed with oil. However, no tingling or any other sign occurred; I left feeling a bit disappointed. I went to bed soon after we got home and it was then that I started feeling the effects of the long day, first with aches which eventually led to the more severe pain I had grown used to.
It left me feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated.
I started arguing with God about why all the healing progress I had made seemed to be going away knowing I had obeyed and had a faith that believed in his healing power. It was about midnight when God sent one more message which called for another act of obedience. Just as God had directed Naaman to wash in the Jordan, God was asking me to go and wash in a detox bath. I must say that I reacted with some of the anger Naaman had in his story.
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me! 2 Kings 5:11
Why couldn’t God just declare me healed, why another silly bath? How was water going to help? I mean, I had taken lots of these types of baths lately to no avail, on top of that it was midnight and a running bath would disturb my sleeping husband. Just then the voice of the Holy Spirit reminded me of what the servants had told Naaman.
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’! 2 Kings 5:13
You see I had wanted to be healed in a great way. I wanted that in-church experience where everyone can watch the miracle happen. This bath idea seemed too simple, too unremarkable. It was then I realized that, just like Naaman, pride was another thing that needed to be washed away. So into the bath I went, along with the usual dose of Epsom salt, baking soda and lavender essential oil.
However, this time my body responded in a way I have never noticed before.
As the worship music began to play in my headphones an incredible tingling started from my face to my toes. As it did I began declaring healing over every part of my body, from my adrenal gland to every nerve. As I recommitted my life to God in full surrender there was increased tingling and my body started feeling lighter. For more than an hour I soaked in the presence of God as he restored much of my body and as I crawled quietly back to bed I knew life would be different.
As I woke up on Saturday morning it was obvious that much of my pain was gone; however, not every symptom was absent which made me ask God why. I felt him say that part must remain because, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh, it was necessary to keep me dependent on him. At the same time I was assured I would always have enough to do all he would call me to do.
It was then that I realized that the biggest part of me that was healed in those waters was my hope.
On Easter Sunday, I joyfully celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in a way I had never understood before. Because God raised Jesus from the dead I too had found new life in my mortal body. I had a new hope that no matter what happens to my physical body in the years ahead I have within me the same power that rose Jesus from the grave.
I may have to dip in some muddy water a few more times in my life but I, just like Naaman, will choose to obey the word of the Lord and in his healing waters I will always come out clean!
So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:14