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I should start with a little background. I returned from Toronto on Monday May 29. It was a very difficult day for me because I came down with a terrible case of bronchitis shortly after I got off of the plane and my friend Diana died of cancer that same day. I ended up being so sick that I could not even sit up for very long. Mostly I just laid in bed and prayed and slept.
I prayed about it when I first started getting sick, expecting the Lord to heal me. But He told me that He was going to let me walk through this sickness so that I could practice being secure in His love for me even when things were not going right. He told me that in the coming days it is important for me to be secure in my position in Him, regardless of how crazy or wrong things around me seemed to be going. He told me that I was going to be extremely sick, but not to worry because everything would work out fine. He instructed me to press in to Him and remain close to Him during this period. So I did. But the Lord's sweetness and presense were constantly around me, even though I was ill. I remember thinking at one point that maybe it was not fair for God to allow me to get so seriously ill immediately after coming home from Toronto. But before I could get upset, it seemed that the Lord's presense came on me very strong and He told me that I was not to expect my relationship with Him to be a "convenience." I.e., being His does not mean that He card-blanche protects me from every inconvence. Rather it means that He works His glory into every situation that He allows me to encounter. But He will allow me to encounter inconvenient situations.
On Thursday, the Lord started speaking to me about that verse in James 5 where the one who is sick calls the elders to come and pray for them. After chewing it over for about 24 hours, I gave a call to Evan Howard (a pastor from my Church who oversees the area I live in). I asked him to bring some elders and come pray for me. He arranged to come with an elder the next morning (Saturday).
Saturday morning, before they arrived, the Lord took me to James 5 for my morning devotions. I read past the section on the elders anointing the sick person with oil so that they would be healed. The next verse talked about confessing our sins and being forgiven and healed. The Lord spoke to me that they were going to ask me to confess my sins when they came to pray with me.
"Ok, Lord," I replied. Then I thought I'd get a "jump start" on it and work on that during my devotions. The only problem was that I could not think of what sins I had to confess. I mentally went over my checklist of the most likely types of candidates. Unforgiveness? No, I couldn't think of anyone who I was harboring unforgiveness towards or anyone I needed to forgive. Disobedience? I couldn't think of anything I'd been disobedient in lately. Pride? That's a good one -- there's always something in terms of pride that I can repent of -- how come I can't think of it? I finally told the Lord that I was willing to confess my sins (and I'm sure I have some) but right then I simply could not think of any. So He would have to show me what I needed to repent of.
When Evan and Josh arrived, I was asleep in the guest bedroom --- I spent most of my time sleeping that week. I got up and met them in the living room and thanked them for coming. It seemed like a bit of an ackward time. Everyone felt that we should be doing this, but we weren't sure exactly how to precede.
I started by sharing two things:
Then Evan suggested we wait on the Lord for a while. I asked if he wanted worship music on and he said no. So we just waited on the Lord, and I could sense His presense filling the room. I felt very loved and very secure. It really seemed like the Lord was putting His arms of love around me. I was sitting up on a love-seat (sort of a two-seat sofa) with my legs folded under me. I felt weak and was not sure if I'd be able to stay sitting up very long. But it really felt like God's invisible arms were holding me up. As time progressed, I did not have any difficulty staying sitting.
After a while, Evan read the passage in James. Just as the Lord had pre-warned me, Evan read on to the verse on confessing our sins and asked me if I'd be willing to do that. I said I'd be willing, but explained that I was having trouble figuring out what they were. Both Evan and Josh gently explained that God had been gently calling me aside and I'd been resisting. They said that resisting God's call was a sin of sort -- rejecting the intimacy that the Lord was calling me into. It also reminded me of something Walter had said to me (hi Walter) along those same lines. Then Evan suggested that maybe God was not calling me to a one-time slowdown, but to a change in lifestyle before Him. Then I remembered a prophesy Cindy Jacobs had given in her January newsletter. She said that 1995 was a year of resting in the Lord and being prepared for the things He had for us (His Church) to accomplish in 1996. It all seemed to be fitting together.
Yet, it was a little puzzling to me because as an intercessor I really do spend a fair amount of time alone with God each day in intimacy prayer -- anywhere from one to three hours. But I really did have a sense that God wanted me to slow down and rest and I was not doing that. So I could see what they were saying but at the same time I wasn't sure exactly how it applied to me. We discussed it for a little while and then I tried to pray it out.
As I started to pray, I felt that I was making a very strong recommitment to the Lord. I hadn't really felt far from Him at all and I'd been hearing His voice pretty clearly. But I wasn't always obeying when I heard. And I didn't even realize that I wasn't obeying. For instance, I knew that He'd been speaking to me to rest for several weeks and I had not been doing so.
I told the Lord that I really wanted to obey Him in all things and I didn't like being in the position of disobeying without even realizing it. I asked Him to increase my sensitivity to Him and to increase my awareness of the times when I'm resisting Him and don't even realize it. I asked Him to come into the situation and lead/guide. I asked Him to change my heart to be after His heart in all matters.
As I was praying, I could feel my lungs opening up. I had been taking very shallow breaths because my lungs just did not seem to have much room for air. But I could feel my lung capacity increasing as I prayed. I could also feel the Lord's sweetness all over me. It felt so good to breath deeply. I finished my prayer and just sat there quietly in His presense, really enjoying the feeling of being able to breath freely. I know it sounds strange, but it felt so good to be able to inhale in exhale.
Then Evan gave me a short prophesy about God calling me apart to just be with Him. It was very sweet and loving. I don't remember many of the exact words, but I do remember a few "I am calling you to be with Me, no music, no computers, just Me and you." Evan also said something about seeing a picture of me walking out of the desert leaning my head on Jesus' shoulder as we walked. It seemed to all fit so well with what God had said to me earlier about His wanting me to be totally secure in His love for me. And Oh, let me tell you, I did feel loved!
Then Josh asked me how I was feeling and pointed out that I had not coughed in about 10 minutes. I had noticed that I was breathing easier, but had not noticed that the coughing had stopped.
Then Evan anointed my forhead with oil and prayed for healing for me. It almost seemed redundant at that point since God had already opened my lungs and stopped the coughing. But I could continue to feel the Lord's presense as he prayed.
Then Evan turned to me and said "I think we're done." I had to agree. It felt like God had accomplished all that He wanted to do.
The Lord did not heal me totally, but He did heal me significantly. I was no longer unable to function but I still had some cold-like symptoms.
I spent the rest of the day resting in Him. I was not resting because I had to (i.e., was too sick to do anything else), but because it was good to rest in Him. God's presense is so sweet...
It seems that when we apply God's principles, as stated in His word, to our daily lives -- they really do work. In this case, I called the elders to come pray for me and anoint me with oil and to confess my sins. What an incredible difference it made in my immediate physical well-being. God is so awesome!
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