DISCLAIMER: As a Bible teacher who has grown up with a focus predominantly on the exposition and understanding of the Bible, I confess a slight wariness under the ministration of prophets. I sit alert during the period, on the lookout for every strange practice that rings wrong. A single misquotation of a verse makes me shake my head in unsurprised disappointment. “I knew it,” I say to myself.
— “God, give me your compassion.”
— “If I give you My compassion, your heart will bleed.”
I had this conversation innocently a few minutes before the evening ministration service began. Of course, although I meant it, I temporarily forgot about it as things heated up. The prophet was on point. He was seeing accurate visions, raising Christlike prayers instead of name-it-and-claim-it drivel. He had a worship team that was anointed by the Spirit of God, raising the most apt songs in the most apt order I have ever heard. And there was pandemonium I’m the auditorium. Of course, if you can see what the Father is doing, and you are obedient to follow, it will begin to be evident in the physical that God is moving. And so people were falling, screaming, rolling on the ground, being slain by the Spirit. Chains were being broken, freedom was being proclaimed, the broken-hearted were being healed. And I knew — I could sense it — God was in this place.
I heard a little voice somewhere from the back, “Let me go. That’s just how it is. It won’t heal. Just let me go.” Even though it was a little voice, somehow, we all heard it.
The prophet paused his ministration and said, “Bring her to me.”
Now, this whole time, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Perhaps it was someone under the influence of an evil spirit made uncomfortable in this overwhelming presence of God. Instead, it was a girl of about twelve or thirteen, with one crippled foot. She was dragged to the front by about three ushers, all the while crying and repeating her first words.
I surmised the situation pretty soon. It seemed the prophet had earlier visited this girl and bathed her crippled foot in anointing oil. Perhaps she had tried to slip out of the meeting inconspicuously when she was accosted by the ushers, and that had began the whole incident. And so she was lain on the floor, still crying, still saying so piteously, “It won’t heal. That’s just how it is. Leave me alone.” We were all watching her now.
And I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense of compassion for this little girl. How many times had she been dragged to prayer meetings like these? How many times had prophets declared upon her head, “Jesus Christ heals you. Rise up and walk!”? And while I fully believed with the prophet that Christ could and might “do a miracle today!” I couldn’t shake the feeling that the little girl was tired of being pranced around like a circus animal. She had learned to live with her disability. She had spent her life coming to terms with it, accepting it, knowing that she was not limited by it nor defined by it. She just wanted to be left alone. She just wanted to be.
But as my heart broke with these realisations, another voice battled inside my head. What about miracles? What about Jesus healing cripples and blind men and lepers, and giving his followers the mandate as part of the Great Commission? What if the Father was healing this little girl now? Was I trying to be more compassionate than God? And if previously, I had been feeling like we needed to protect the girl…. Protect her from what? Or more accurately, from whom? God?
And so this started as an enquiry about what the Church’s attitude should be toward those with physical challenges, but I let it soak for a couple of days, and you know what just occurred to me? We are exactly like this little girl.
We come to Christ with our petty, petty sins and weaknesses; we go to church with them, and prayer meetings, and monthly fasts, and camp meetings and revivals and fellowships…. And every once in a while, God ministers to us. He drags us kicking and screaming to the front row seats of our own lives and He pushes his finger down hard on our failings. You get too angry too often, too impatient, too frustrated; you find it so hard to love, to give; you are still so lazy, still so proud, still so cautious about Me; why do you insist on being right all the time, having your own way?
And we strain and shriek and hit our fists against His face. Let me go, that’s just how I am. That’s just how it is. That’s just the kind of person I have always been. It won’t change, I won’t stop. Leave me alone and let me go.
Can we stay the same as we were before we came to know Christ, though? Can we remain with all our faults and flaws and expect Heaven to tolerate them? For how long can His purity endure the stain of our sins, when He paid such an exorbitant price to have them blotted out? Is this church then? Do we get to pick and choose which parts of ourselves we will offer and when?
As I returned from church, He was explaining to me that a living sacrifice is bound to the altar. Before the decision is made to give yourself, you are free to do what you want. But once you do decide, then you have no choice. The say in whether or not you should be ministered to for healing is no longer yours. The option to shrink back from the potter’s critical hand has been surrendered. You cannot say to the surgeon, “Leave it alone.” You no longer have that right. You are given.
I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed:
The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.
I know its going to hurt; I think it’s supposed to. Jesus cried tears of blood because it hurts to ‘give yourself away’ and ‘surrender all’, ‘withholding nothing’. But you have to decide once and for all whether you are a living sacrifice being molded into perfection in Him, or you are by yourself doing your own thing. And if the choice is to give, then prepare for more screaming, for more kicking and pleading and crying. One thing though He promises: He’s not going to leave you alone or leave it as it is. He’s annoying like that.
How did I end up here? We thought we were going to laugh about the eccentricities of the prophetic ministry. I’m not entirely sure either. Bear with me.