Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Jesus Rocked our World at a Healing Conference: Part 1

You may remember from this post that back in mid-January, I had to cancel nearly all of my tutoring appointments because of how poorly my body was doing.  It could have been quite discouraging.  But thankfully, Jesus had been leading Corrie and me into a renewed fervor for seeking more of his presence and healing power.

And he was answering our pursuit!

At that time, I learned of an upcoming healing conference happening at Bethel Church in Redding.  By upcoming, I mean in a week and a half.  Keep in mind, this was during a time when we had a 4 year old, a three month old baby, a fast-approaching deadline by which we had to move out of our apartment with no place to actually move to yet, poor health for me, and Corrie's regular job at the church.  

With all of these things on our plate, it was not the ideal time for us to take a trip.  But this conviction to pursue healing and more of Jesus' kingdom reaches deep into our hearts.  So I told Corrie about the conference and she, being the amazing wife and passionate pursuer of Jesus that she is, was totally on-board.  And though it wasn't convenient or easy to take the trip right then, we had the "peace that surpasses understanding."  The peace that feels nonsensical to our natural mind, which wants to fix all the storms in our lives. The peace that focuses on Jesus, the source of calm in those storms.

So we drove all morning on Wednesday, checked in to our hotel exhausted, and mustered our energy to head down the street to the conference.  Corrie and I were excited and nervous this whole time.  We had no idea what to expect.  All we knew was that Jesus was urging us to come here, and that it would be different than what we were used to.

Where We've Come From

Corrie and I have for a long time now been hungry for more of Jesus.  Not that he has ever deprived us of himself, but we have felt him telling us, "There is more to my heart and my kingdom than you've seen so far.  Come after me.  Come and see."  Much of that hunger has actually been fueled by this sickness and our desire for total healing.

And that hunger has led us to his Word where we see the Holy Spirit working in power in the lives of the church.  The sick get healed.  The trapped get freed.  Lives are changed and forever different because Jesus has come.  That's what we want for ourselves.  A real tangible difference made by a real encounter with Jesus.

Our church experience for most of our lives was filled with wonderful believers, who loved and were incredibly loved by Jesus.  With wonderful and powerful teaching about Jesus and salvation.  With many very good things.  But the ways of the Holy Spirit and His kingdom are still relatively new to us. 

What all that adds up to is this: We've been getting more and more comfortable with the uncomfortable things that we usually associate with the Holy Spirit and "charismatic" Christianity.  At least in theory we were comfortable with them.  Things like falling down when getting prayed for, demons manifesting in people and needing to get kicked out, speaking in tongues, prophesying, maybe even laughing and dancing…and MAAYYYYBE even shaking under the power of God.

Even as I write this, part of me feels uncomfortable with those things.  And yet, I can't say "no" to them just because they're uncomfortable or messy.  Because, what if?  What if Jesus is in them and I miss that part of him because it rubs me the wrong way?  Or it threatens my dignity?  Or it's messy?

Jesus abandoned all of his dignity for the sake of winning me back.  So who am I to hold on to mine?

What if I let my own reasoning and clinging to propriety rob me of fully knowing a God who is not proper or safe at all, but good and loving nonetheless?  Not to mention powerful.

These were some of our thoughts leading up to this conference.  They're all easy enough to espouse when you're a week-and-a-half and a four-hour-car-drive away.  But it's a whole different story when you're in the auditorium with your wife and two little daughters, wondering, "Jesus.  What are you going to do?  And please let it be you.  And, oh yeah, please heal me also."

The First Night

We got to the auditorium eager for Jesus and healing while also watchful and a bit guarded…just in case.  There was a fantastic time of worship, during which Rebecca blessed our hearts by standing and singing and raising her hands and giving herself wholeheartedly to Jesus.

You could tell that Darcy would have, but, in her words, "I'm just a baby."

Pretty shortly into the service, after the worship, we started seeing "things."  The man leading the service that night, Randy Clark, asked people who needed healing to stand.  He asked others nearby to gather around to lay hands on and pray for them while he also prayed from the front.

All around the auditorium we started hearing people making many, for lack of a better word, uncomfortable noises.  Some yelled.  Some started laughing.  Some cried out in what you could almost call a scream.  

All over the auditorium people were lying on the floor, some even shaking in various ways.  

An Interjection

I want to throw in a couple thoughts here that I'll share in more detail in the later posts about this conference.  These different reactions that we were witnessing, the yelling and falling and shaking can be and were unsettling.  Our mind wants to come up with all the explanations for why this isn't okay, why it isn't God, why it must be at best the people making it up or, at worst, Satan.

You see someone lying on the floor shaking and you think, "Jesus doesn't do this.  Demons do."  But then you talk to that same person and they tell you that during their time on the floor, they were seeing Jesus look into their eyes.  They were feeling him touch their body with waves of heat and electricity flowing from his hands, healing them.

Or you hear someone nearly scream and think, "Why would Jesus terrify someone so much to the point of screaming?"  But then that same person says that they were screaming in pain because God's power was so heavily cleaning them out.  One person even had a vision that Jesus was sticking a flaming sword into his stomach.  And the strange thing is that these people aren't traumatized or damaged.  They're beaming, peaceful, joyful, made new even.

And though these things sound so weird, I am reminded that the Bible is FULL of God doing weird things to people that may have been extremely unsettling.  But the fruit of them was none other than Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  And Jesus said, "You know a tree, whether it's good or bad, by its fruit."

Our Initial Reaction

But that night, watching all of this for the first time, we were not sure what to think.  I was standing to receive prayer, but nothing like that was happening to me.  I wasn't feeling anything in my body like heat or electricity or healing…nothing.  No physical signs that God was actually doing anything. 

We naturally started to wonder, "What's going on?  Is this stuff real?  Are these people crazy?  Are they just stirring themselves into an experience but not really connecting with Jesus?"

By the end of the night, there were people literally all over the auditorium having supposed encounters with God.  But Corrie and I just weren't quite sure.  We got back to our hotel room not knowing whether we should stay and go back again the next day.  It was all just so uncomfortable. 

But you know, that evening turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for both of us to hear Jesus.  Not to go by our feelings or natural thinking, but to set those aside to listen to His voice and to see what HE would have to say.  And in the midst of both of our wrestlings, we each heard him tell us, "Stay. Don't leave.  If you leave you'll be leaving out of fear and judgment, and you'll be missing what I have for you while you are here.  Don't give up.  Not yet."

So, together, we decided to stay.  At that point, we didn't know if what we had seen was really Jesus.  But we DID know that Jesus, the real Jesus, was with us and wanted us to stick with him.

Intrigued?  Read the second installment here...

To read the other parts of our Healing Conference series:
Part Two
Darcy's Interlude
Part Three (coming soon...)

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