I am in the process of adapting to a new reality. Part of the process, as I noted in the previous post, is to praise God for some healing He gave me in the midst of the adapting. This post serves as a means of setting a couple of stages, one of which stage is a praise for this recent healing.
One of the consistent themes of my life beginning sometime in 2011 has been a constant succession of unusual (as far as I can tell) physical afflictions. I’ve made mention of some of the afflictions in various blog posts, I think. The nature of it all has been that I will have weeks, months, or years of at least one source of frustration and pain, with no more than a few days between the time one affliction is cleared before another starts up. In the past four years, the strange and limiting conditions have been stacking one on top of another, so that I’m never without multiple injuries or other maladies that have me raising my hand in church when they ask if anyone needs prayers for healing.
The parade of atypical physical problems began back in the spring of 2011. I had been doing regular stair sprints for many years and wanted to do something a little different for a leg workout. I decided to try an exercise that I’d seen someone doing on a picnic table bench. You stand flat-footed on the ground and then hop up on the bench and back down again. I knew well enough from experience that any new exercise at my age required gradual introduction so as to not upset the apple cart of an aging body. I started the hopping routine gradually and wrecked my aging body anyway. I did something to my feet that resulted in two solid years of problems that, at their worst, limited me from even walking to work without being incapacitated and unable to walk at all for a couple of days. I remember a complicating factor: around the same time that I started the new exercise regimen, I walked to work one day with a heavy back pack while wearing shoes that didn’t have good support. The cumulative results of the hopping and packing were that my feet were demolished. I assume that I badly strained muscles and connective tissue.
I self-treated my feet by wearing new insoles in my shoes; wearing plantar boots at night; and icing and stretching my feet regularly. All of that plus passage of time resulted in some minimal relief from the pain. But minimal relief was nothing to get excited about. Then in the fall of 2012, I began attending prophetic equipping classes at Upper Room. One of the instructors was Vince Corcoran. I’d never heard of Vince Corcoran before his first presentation in the classes. Once you see Vince in action, there is no forgetting him. He’s funny, down-to-earth, passionate, and incredibly gifted by the Holy Spirit to heal, teach, and encourage.
Our primary instructor was Michael ‘Hats’ Miller, for whom I can find no suitable Internet link (Michael ‘Hats’ Miller is not to be confused with Michael ‘Freeland’ Miller, who is our head pastor). If I recall correctly, the early format of the classes was for Hats to teach on the theory behind Holy Spirit gifting for an hour or so; then the second hour of class would be dedicated to practicum, which took a variety of forms. One format I remember clearly. During the first hour, Vince would type into his phone any promptings he got from God regarding physical problems people in the room might have. Then during the second hour, he would become the instructor/presenter. He would read out the messages he’d typed during the first hour; and then he would ask who, if anyone, in the room had the problems that he was calling out. Anyone who identified with a problem he called out could go forward and have the class pray as a group for healing.
On one of our very first nights of class, Vince announced, “Someone in the room has plantar fasciitis.” No one responded. I hadn’t considered that I could be dealing with PF, but I knew my feet were wrecked. I went up front with the other people who responded in the affirmative to other invitations. Vince and everyone else in the room prayed for us. The next day, my feet were noticeably better. There was immediate relief that turned out to be permanent – my feet never again bothered me to the extent that they did before those prayers. For the record I eventually got completely healed, a couple of years after the prayers, doing some modified calf stretches that actually flexed at the base of my toes rather than at my ankle.
God works through Vince Corcoran to heal in the name of Jesus.
Fast forward through a bunch of subsequent weird problems until the fall of 2015, when I had surgery to remove a spermatocele. I also tweaked my shoulder while playing with my kids later that winter. In February 2016 I took an innocuous round of antibiotics that wrecked my digestive system. The shoulder injury lay mostly dormant until my return from a trip to Israel in March. Immediately upon my return to the states, the shoulder started noticeably hurting while I exercised. My digestive/eliminatory process remained a disaster. In June I started my summer swim routine and promptly tore the spermatocele surgery wound. Within days I had another spermatocele of a more sensitive nature than the first one. Around that same time, and in a pleasant change of pace, either a friend’s prayers or the introduction of kefir into my diet resolved my digestion issue. Related physical damage healed to a degree; but it was obvious that there had been permanent restructuring of things I’d rather have not been restructured.
Then I did the long fast in October. During that fast, when I reasonably expected my body to heal itself to some extent, my shoulder injury inexplicably progressed from annoying with mostly-full range of motion to excruciatingly painful with extremely limited range of motion. Then after the fast I discovered that my digestive problems had returned. An early November MRI revealed nothing unusual in my shoulder. Great news, I guess? By the time December 2016 rolled around, I was in relentless physical pain and psychological distress 24×7. There was no position in a chair or in my bed that didn’t aggravate one or more of my injuries. Eating anything at all was a losing proposition. I felt like my body had taken it upon itself to kill me. It was impossible to sleep through the night; any change in position was a fully-conscious attempt to settle everything into place in such a way that caused the least amount of distress. I began begging God to heal me -first daily, then hourly, then with what seemed like every other conscious thought. Then I did the deal with the thing, and the bomber happened, and all that.
We’re getting closer to the point of this post.
During the first week of January 2017, I was trying to sort out what was or was not going on with regard to Joseph and all the many blessings I’d been expecting for years. Things had grown very quiet after the December dreams and vision that indicated all said blessings were possibly not going to happen. With each passing day I believed more that I had well and truly blown my destiny. And God had gone radio-silent after what appeared to be His mid-December kiss-off with a dream about a bomber and a vision of King Kong. This meant that, in addition to dealing with exhausting and demoralizing physical challenges, I existed in a state of simmering panic and grief. And self-loathing. Heavy on the self-loathing. Biblically-epic misery instead of triumph. Great times back in the first week of January 2017.
On or about 11am of Wednesday that week I was at work, between breakfast and my first skipped meal of a three-day fast. I took an ibuprofen to dull the pain in various parts of my body. I was buried under a workload that had suspiciously increased in frustrating complexity right alongside the multiplication of my non-work struggles. In the chaos of that day I forgot to notice that the ibuprofen had almost no impact on my pain level. What I did notice, a few hours after taking the pill, was an abrupt wash of warmth and tangible peace that started at my head and worked its way down into my upper torso. I was engrossed in some project when the sensation caught my attention. I semi-consciously figured that it must have been the ibuprofen doing its thing, at the exact same time that I knew good and well that ibuprofen doesn’t act that way – at all – and certainly not that many hours after ingestion.
I finished the work day and went home.
That night in bed I discovered, to my tired and grateful surprise, that shoulder pain was dialed back from a constant 9.5 to a practically vacation-like 6. What had been an imposing and rock-hard spasm just above my shoulder blade had relaxed into something much smaller and less demanding. I could lay in a wider range of positions without the afflicted shoulder complaining at all. That left me the freedom to focus on trying to appease the spermatocele, which was undiminished by the day’s merciful touch. God had given me distinct and spontaneous relief, in a moment when I was not even seeking it. He is such a loving Father. I thanked Him profusely and slept in relative peace.
The following Sunday, our church offered prayers from the ministry team after the morning service. I went down front, where about ten team members were waiting. I approached our executive director and told him I was seeking prayers for healing. I mentioned the spermatocele specifically. I also mentioned my shoulder but didn’t say anything about the spontaneous healing from earlier in the week. We talked briefly about my life situation, including health, family, and forgiveness. He wrapped his arms around my shoulders and prayed, commanding healing in the name of Jesus. There were no immediate fireworks in my body. I thanked Michael (not to be confused with one of the other two aforementioned Michael’s) for his prayers and went home.
That night in bed I discovered, to my amazement and grateful surprise, that the spermatocele pain was dialed back from a constant 9.5 to a definitely vacation-like 3. Maybe even 2. The pain was practically gone. I had no trouble getting relatively comfortable in any position. I even got up to check and see that there was even a spermatocele present at the scene. It was still there. But it was a lot smaller than it had been even days before.
He is such a merciful and good Father. It was not lost on me that, as I struggled to hold it all together while contemplating the fact that I’d FAILED in a huge way, God loved me enough to reach down and enhance the quality of my life in a huge way. I couldn’t help but wonder why He was doing it in early January instead of in early December, when I might not have been so driven to act out and erase years of struggle and a possible destiny. Then I figured maybe that was the whole point – that the pain (among other challenges) had been a specific test of my character, leading up to what was scheduled to be the end of the testing.
How close had I gotten? I didn’t know and probably won’t ever know. I further decided: if the pain had been a test of my character; and I’d ultimately failed that test; and He was now removing the pain; then removing the pain might have been something like a pity prize from God. “Here, you poor fool; let me ease your burden while you spin off into fruitlessness for the rest of your life.” I wasn’t interested in pity prizes from the Creator of the Universe. But none of that matters right now. Because…
The point of this post is that He is the perfect Father and He loves us, even when we are not shining example of obedience, even when we don’t make the best use of the opportunities He puts before us. He is wonderful, and He is worthy of our praise.