REACHING FOR THE HEALER
A touch is all it takes
“The Alliance is riding on one flat tire!”
A half-century ago, I heard Dr. A. W. Tozer say these words at a pastors’ gathering, and everyone knew he was speaking of the “Christ our Healer” portion of our C&MA message. Tozer’s statement has inspired me to present forcefully the fourfold gospel of Jesus Christ—our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.
God’s names reveal His character, and Jehovah Rapha (the Lord our Healer) is one of the compound names of Jehovah. In these dark economic days we depend upon Jehovah Jireh (the Lord our Provider). In our relationship to God through Christ we depend upon Jehovah Tsidkenu (the Lord our Righteousness). When we are troubled, we look to Jehovah Shalom (the Lord our Peace). Since we claim Him as our Provider, our Righteousness and our Peace, let us also boldly claim Him as our Healer.
Above and Beyond
I was born with spina bifida. The doctors predicted that I would not live to adulthood and might not even survive my teen years. Dr. John Royal Moore, a legendary orthopedic surgeon, told my parents that he wanted to put together a team of neuro and orthopedic surgeons from Temple University in Philadelphia to perform experimental surgery he had custom designed for me. He would remove a nine-inch slab of bone from my good leg and fashion it into the parts necessary to repair my defective spinal column.
Moore said it was doubtful that I would ever walk again, but my life might be spared by the procedure. He also warned my parents that I might not come off the operating table alive; yet he was certain that without the surgery I did not have many more years to live. Without hesitation, my parents told Moore that they believed in God’s power to heal and that they would trust Him to do above and beyond what the team of surgeons with all their marvelous skills could do.
The surgery was so successful that each year Moore had me return to Temple University Medical School, where he taught. He would show his students what he and his team had done, describing in detail the innovative procedures he had employed.
After having spent three months in a body cast lying flat on my back, I had to learn to walk again. Moore told me I would enjoy walking for a few years. He added that in approximately 20 years one hip and leg would give out, and I would need additional surgery.
Forty years later his predictions began to come true. My left hip and leg were rapidly losing their strength. After getting out of a car, I often had to lean against it before I dared attempt to walk. I prided myself on saying to the Lord, “I am not going to complain. I have had twice as much use of my leg as Dr. Moore predicted. I am just going to praise you for what You have done and not lament this loss.”
One day the thought struck me forcibly. What are you doing? You are accepting something that is happening to you without considering who God is and what He can do! Why not trust Him for another healing touch? I did, and God healed me again. For nearly 20 more years I have had the use of both legs.
Touch and Go
In the fall of 2007, a pain above my hip proved to be more than just a temporary muscle strain. It worsened steadily until it was constant and debilitating. I was certain that at the rate my hip and leg were worsening, I would not be able to use them much longer. Then one day in my regular Bible reading I came across Mark 6:56: “. . . and all who touched him were healed.” I stopped reading and thought, We sing “He touched me, oh, He touched me, and oh the joy that filled my soul. Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”
Suddenly I realized that the Scripture I just read was not referring to the Lord Jesus touching people; it was referring to their touching of Him. This led me to believe that the Lord was encouraging me to reach out and touch Him.
From that day on I persistently prayed, “Please give me the faith to touch You, Lord! I have to rely upon You, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, to enable me to touch You. Please do that!” But in spite of my earnest prayers, the pain worsened week after week. I clung tenaciously to the thought of what would happen if by God-given faith I were to touch Him.
Saturday night, November 17, 2007, the pain was the most severe it had ever been. I could not find a comfortable position. I slept very little. All night I cried out to the Lord to help me so that I could keep my preaching commitment at the Rotondo West Community Church in southern Florida the next morning. Despite having not more than two hours of sleep, I was able to preach. God had answered my prayer.
After dinner, the widow who had taken us into her home asked if we would like to take a nap. I stretched out on the bed in agony and slept from sheer exhaustion When I awoke two hours later, I had no pain whatsoever. I said to myself, I must have found the right position! I am not going to move! But after awhile I realized that I could not lie there enjoying my pain-free status forever. I had to preach again that evening. I very carefully turned over in the bed—no pain. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed—no pain! I stood up—no pain! I walked across the room—no pain! God had healed me! He had answered my prayer and enabled me to touch Him!
While such a testimony encourages us, it is not in itself a firm foundation for believing. The Word of God is our foundation for faith. Along with the believers of all ages we may sing with conviction, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!”
The Scriptures tell us that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). When Jesus was here on earth, He had compassion on the sick and infirm: “Many followed him, and he healed all their sick . . .” (Matt. 12:15); “. . . laying his hands on each one, he healed them” (Luke 4:40); “. . . power was coming from him and healing them all” (Luke 6:19); “Crowds gathered . . . bringing their sick . . . and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:16). The apostle James exhorts us to “. . . pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
My prayer is that, through God’s grace, The Alliance will be able to put some air in that “flat tire” of which Tozer spoke!