I was blessed to go on my first ever business trip over this past week to New York City. This was a BIG deal for me, as I don’t travel much and live in a small town in the middle of the woods. But I have always wanted to go to the big city, just to experience it.
So I got to wander NYC for 5 nights, just me and Jesus. It was amazing.
Last night, my last night there, I walked from my hotel, across the Brooklyn Bridge, into Brooklyn Heights, had an amazing vegan burger, and walked back. On my way back, there was a man who walked with a severe limp. He was extremely thin, had ragged clothes and hair, and was covered in dirt and grime. He appeared to be homeless and struggling.
As soon as I saw him, I felt an overwhelming urge to ask him if I could pray for healing for him. Not just healing over time, I felt like if this man said yes, that the Lord would truly heal him right then and there.
Now I have never done a prayer for physical healing on the spot before, but the burden is not a new one to me. Usually, I am so terrified that a healing won’t happen that I don’t risk it. I’m terrified that the Lord won’t answer my prayer. I’m afraid that instead of it being an instruction from God Himself to heal by His power, that it is just me feeling empathetic for their suffering. I am afraid to confuse the two, to not have the prayer answered, and to damage any chance they had of believing.
So, per usual, I tried to stuff that burden down and to rationalize it away. But it would not budge. I truly felt like his foot would be healed if I prayed for it to be healed. That confidence was new. And all these verses kept popping into my head, each confirming this feeling in me further.
So I back-tracked to where he was, because I had long since passed him by the time I decided to take this leap of faith. I approached him and asked him his name. He told me and then asked me why I asked. I told him I felt like God was telling me to pray healing over his foot.
He freaked out, you guys. His eyes got super wide and he looked terrified. He quickly looked away, shaking his head and saying, “Oh, no, no, no. I don’t want that,” and immediately started walking away. It was the strangest reaction I have ever seen.
I started walking again, too and said, “Can I ask why?” hoping to understand this man’s reason behind his reaction. He said, “No. Now I’ve got to get to Manhattan, so excuse me,” in a little bit harsher of a voice, though his face was still a mask of fear, and he was now leaning away from me like I was about to strike him or something. So I just shrugged and said, “Okay,” and continued on ahead of him (since he walked very slowly with his limp).
It was bizarre, you guys. This guy was so clearly not on neutral terms with God. There was something definitely going on there, and by the tone and urgency of his rejection, it was not good.
I started tearing up the second I was past him, not because he rejected me, but because he had rejected God. I walked on, wondering why on earth he would be so afraid of healing, of prayer, of such a loving God. My mind began reeling with unanswered questions:
“You WANT to live with that pain? You WANT to go on suffering? What is it about God that is so terrifying or wrong to you? Do you fear the Lord or are you angry with Him? Are you unwilling to give up whatever sin you think will fulfill you more than the Lord? Are you afraid to face the Lord with all of your sin, like I was?
Or maybe there is more at work here than I can see. Maybe he has demons within him that do not want this man healed. Perhaps if those demons are in him, they are terrified of being cast back into Hell. Dang straight…”
My heart ached for him, now more for his soul than for his physical suffering. Though I am not positive, I have a very strong feeling that this man is addicted to some bad drugs and that there are forces of the enemy at work within him. I have never seen anybody react like that.
But even though my heart ached for him, I walked away with a weight off of my shoulders, because I had been obedient.
I realized in that moment that I would much rather live with the tiny sting of rejection than with the regret of a missed opportunity and the knowledge that I was disobedient. The sting of rejection lasted for only a moment, and it was pretty much entirely overshadowed by shock at this man’s fear of being prayed over. I walked away knowing that I had done what I was meant to do. I felt like I was doing what the scriptures say. I felt overwhelming peace, despite being rejected.
Even though I did not get to see God heal this man right then and there, I did pray for healing for him, and that he would know exactly Who to give the glory to if/when it happens.
God has been taking me on quite an interesting journey lately. I’ve been reading the Word and learning about it more than ever before, and all that I am learning is really challenging me. I’ve also been listening to Francis Chan messages on YouTube (highly, highly recommend him), and he seems to keep bringing up the idea of taking the Bible literally and living in such a way that our stories would be like those in the Bible. He challenges everybody to live more like Jesus instructed His disciples to, bold and powerful, since the same Spirit that was alive in them is now alive in us. He promises that God will be with us when we go out and make more disciples (Matthew 28: 16-20).
This experience also reiterated the fact that a lot of people are going to reject Jesus in spite of Him revealing Himself to them and giving them ample opportunity to believe and be reborn, something I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around. But there this man was, doing exactly what is predicted in Scripture, choosing to not follow Him, choosing not to be healed, choosing to continue with a life of pain, sorrow, addiction, sin, whatever it is he is holding onto so tightly…
God already knows what every person’s ultimate choice will be (hence the names in the Book of Life – those who will choose Him in the end), hence why Jesus often began with “He who has ears, let him hear,” knowing that most people would not truly hear His words. That His words would be falling on both deaf and alert ears. That most of the crowd would listen to his words and walk away unchanged, that they would not do anything about what they heard, that they would not confess Him as Lord, that they would go on living their lives no differently than before He had spoken. So when He says, “He who has ears, let him hear,” he is addressing those whose names are in that Book of Life.
It is crazy to think about.
But, I don’t know what God has planned for this man. Maybe I was the 5th person on that bridge to have asked him to pray for his foot and that’s why he was freaked out. Maybe the 6th person to ask will be the one he finally yields to. I don’t know!
Maybe God used me to plant a seed in his mind, just like my mom kept doing long before I chose to follow Jesus, which I believe was how I knew exactly Who to turn to in my time of need. I don’t know!
I won’t know until Heaven. Maybe I’ll see that guy there. God, I hope so…
All we can do is be obedient to the nudges. To have tender hearts and a tough hides – to be compassionate and empathetic, while not allowing fear or the sting of rejection to hinder or discourage us from Kingdom work.
I would love to hear any stories of healing, PLEASE comment them below. I would love as much evidence as possible on here that these things actually do happen, that we are meant to go out as the Disciples did, healing people in the name of Jesus Christ. Please don’t exaggerate or embellish any stories! (Note: I have settings for comments to require my approval before they are public, as some comments I receive are quite personal or hateful, so don’t be discouraged if your story doesn’t show up immediately. I’ll get on here as often as I can to get them approved!)
Thank you for sharing and thank you for reading, brothers and sisters! May Jesus continue to make us bold and powerful for His glory!