Let the Healing Begin

Yesterday Sr. Wantabee was at the nursing home and a “healing service” was held. The text was something about Jesus healing a man somewhere in his ministry. Sr. Wantabee could not help but ponder the man in the wheelchair in the back row, in front of her. The man was from Sr. Wantabee’s floor. One side of his body was crippled with a stroke, the final insult from a god who made him with a deformed mouth that needed multiple operations before age 5 just so he could eat, and this god had given him parents who pawned him off to foster homes to raise him. His life was a series of mishaps and worse misunderstandings, filled with rage and rejection. The last time Sr. Wantabee chatted with the man, he had released a long series of vulgar, explicative adjectives to let her know what he thought of this god who had abused and ruined his life so. Sr. Wantabee wondered how he was receiving all this talk. The preacher finished and two ancient guardians of the church sat in the front for the mobile in the audience to approach and be prayed for. Meanwhile two other pastors started at the front of the congregation and gradually were working their way back through the audience of mostly wheel chairs. Do these Lake Woebegone Lutherans truly think there are going to be healings? Back in the day of the hippies, an altar call was given and people who wanted a healing came forward. Can you just go up and down the isles praying and anointing with oil?

Sr. Wantabee bowed her head and tried to calm her doubting heart. The least she could do is pray for this man in the wheel chair, trapped in this service. Deep in prayer, she was startled when her neighbor nudged her to indicate that the leader was calling her forward. Would she feel comfortable helping? Take a bowl of anointing oil and start in the back row with the man in the wheel chair! Sr. Wantabee gulped. Did she believe God could heal? She took the bowl and moved toward the man who swore so prolifically at her God.

“Sir?” “Sir?” “Would you like to be prayed for?” “Sir?” “Sir?” “Would you like to be prayed for?” He agreed! and Sr. Wantabee prayed her heart out for his condition and for his heart. The next lady remembered a word spoken in anger to a friend that had been taken wrong and destroyed a friendship. Could God heal this? The next needed healing for aging eyes. Another needed healing for strength to finish her race. Another sought the joy to continue faithfully and to help her friends. Prayers, prayers, prayers.

Later, on the floor, Sr. Wantabee met the man in the wheel chair and he engaged her, sharing how his medications had been changed and he was no longer experiencing those haunting visions of being attacked and in fact was sleeping through the night. A large smile spread across his misshapen mouth. He now has two caseworkers, he continued. One is from the county and one is here at the nursing home. Both have the same name!! He looked straight at Sr. Wantabee and asked if she remembered their last encounter. (How could she forget?) He wanted to be one of those sheep in the flock. He had asked God to forgive his rash words. Did she think he heard?

She assured him that He had. Just like a parents who’s kid yells, “I hate you!” but then comes back, God understands when we say rash things also. She asked herself in her heart if she could forgive and forget. A good question!

That afternoon she walked home pondering the five pastoral people moving among the hundred people praying for healing and what a touching service it had been as acclaimed by all. Then she remembered that Jesus after healing Peter’s mother-in-law had all the sick people in the town brought to him and all were healed! Of course God sometimes works in single person scenarios but there were stories of Jesus having masses of people come to him for help — not unlike the healing service today.

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