Healing, particularly healing for the physically sick, is an emotionally charged subject. And it still is for me.
I’m a product of the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s…hippies, druggies, musicians, artists by the thousands were coming to Christ across the U.S., an alternative culture that had shrugged off the mores of the previous generation. Tune in, turn on, drop out. If it was mainstream, if it was the establishment, I wanted no part of it. The Vietnam War was in full blaze and a mandatory military draft in place. Every year a lottery of birthdates was held; my number was 162. Massive protests were held regarding the war and civil rights; the country was polarized. The Evangelical Church, personified in some ways by Billy Graham, was seen as a partner with the Nixon administration policies. It seemed like a Continental Divide between the generations. And into that setting swept the Jesus movement and the charismatic movement, crossing over denominational lines and shaking churches all over the world. Who let the hippies in here?
Before I came to Christ, I had rejected everything that represented The Man. I had to unlearn everything, including all the good and bad elements that come with revolutionary rebellion. I stumbled into a Pentecostal church and drank in everything that was offered…including the radical idea that Jesus was still doing the same things, and I mean everything, that He did when He walked this planet. Including healing and casting out devils. Whew.
That required a total paradigm shift for me on every level. Eventually I wanted more, and ultimately thought my church was too churchy, too conventional, too safe. Hey, if Jesus wanted to multiply Wonder bread and Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks, He could do it…if we had faith. I would leave church services and confess my healing, pop out my contact lenses (I can’t read anything unless it’s 3 inches from my eyeballs), and drive home. Frighteningly. Anita wouldn’t get in the car with me. It just seemed to me that if you were going to go for it, go for it. Don’t be double-minded, don’t be wishy-washy.
Okay, I’ve mellowed out a bit. Maybe it’s a thin line between presumption and faith. I went through a period of no doctors, no medicine, no movies, no TV…just Jesus. My dad refused to take medication for his heart (very treatable), and ending up dying from heart disease. I remember seeing him in the hospital before I drove to Orlando to begin a recording session, and he looked at me and said, “This faith thing is different when it’s you.”
That was the last conversation I had with him. He took a turn for the worse within a few days and I flew home to see him. He didn’t pull out. My mom went into shock; she was convinced that dad was going to be healed. It never entered her mind that he wouldn’t. She was like a “faith-bulldog”. But it didn’t happen.
It took me awhile to pray for anyone again. I think I came into a healthier balance. I don’t have all the answers. But I still believe Jesus heals; as a matter of fact, I’m more convinced than ever that He has called us to heal the sick. I can’t read the gospels without running headlong into it. I’m just not as self-assured of the mechanics.
But I now know it has to be driven by compassion. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8