Rise, Kill, and Eat that Denomination!

18 05 2013

In more physical pain than I’d ever experienced in 15 years of living, I thrashed around in the water. Between gasps, I called out for help. My friends and even the lifeguard thought I was playing, so they watched and laughed at my “antics.” I was on my own.

Inch by painful inch, I made my way to the edge of the pool. With a great deal of effort, I managed to get out, and then laid on the cement waiting for the throbbing in my lower back to subside enough for me to get up and go to my cabin.

Minutes earlier, I had decided to overcome my fear of the high dive. With wobbly legs, I climbed the steps and stood on the platform. Then I stood on the platform, and stood on the platform.

With an edge to his tone, the kid behind me said, “C’mon! You gonna stand there all day?”

It was my moment of truth. Was I going to back down and be teased for the rest of Bible camp? Or was I going to face my “giant” and jump?

I took a huge breath. Adrenaline coursed through my veins as I ran to the end of the board, jumped, and dove in – head first.

That’s where I messed up. I guess there’s a right and wrong angle from which to enter the water off a high dive. I was clueless. When I hit the water, I folded like a jack-knife – backward. Fire shot through my torso. With every painful breath, I choked on the water. With no one to assist me (they were still laughing), I thought I might drown.

That night I lay in bed hurt, angry, and confused. I began to pray:

God. I’m at Church camp, and tomorrow I have a vocal competition. I teach a Sunday School class, I pray to You, I read my Bible, I sing in the choir. Why did You let this happen to me? Did I do something wrong? Haven’t I been good enough? I don’t understand. 

I confessed every sin I could think of, even made up a few just in case – yet, the agony continued.

For the next three years, it was hard to get around. While I sat at a desk, my back muscles became tense. The bell rang and I went to the next class hunched over. By the time I reached the next room, I could stand erect – only to go through the process again.

My pain tolerance level is off the charts. Consequently, I didn’t make much of a fuss about my injury. No doubt, my parents noticed the difficulty I had moving around, but the thought of a doctor visit or x-rays never occurred to them.

A little background information would be helpful at this point. From age 13 – 18, I attended one of the major denominational churches. To this congregation, anything that involved the Holy Spirit and was outside their box was suspect. I don’t think we ever even talked about Him. What I gathered from the preaching was that the Old Testament was for the Jews, Acts was for the disciples, and the rest of the New Testament was all that had any value to today’s Christian.

Imagine, then. I was 18 years old, married, and at a Bible study by my husband’s request – a full-blown Pentecostal group! No fooling, I thought I might be in danger of being demon possessed!

After the study, a little lady – about three days older than Moses – called me to one of the bedrooms.

“You have a back injury, and God wants to heal you. May I pray for you?”

What I’d already witnessed this woman doing in the name of “worship” had greatly alarmed me. The carrot she dangled before me – healing – was impossible to turn down, so I assented.

I could not tell you what she prayed, I vaguely recall the odd things she did to my body because the entire time she was at work, I said my own prayer:

Lord, This woman is flat nuts. I don’t know if this is really Your idea or not, but You said that all I need is a mustard seed of faith.

I held my hand like I had an actual seed between my finger and thumb.

I’m telling, You, that’s all the faith I have at the moment. See, it’s very tiny. But You said that’s all I need. I’m telling You, that’s all I have. I don’t think it’s even that big…but You said…”

I left that room healed. Still am, over 30 years later. (I know, “Duh!”)

In a funny way, I think the church of my youth was like the “butt” of the body of Christ. They didn’t do much but sit around and evaluate other parts of the body. Those congregations who were the hands, waving around in wild animation – like one who could not speak if you tied their hands down – concerned them. They are so “undisciplined.”

The fellowships that skipped, danced, and leaped, were also a great bother. Everyone “knew” that dancing was of the devil.

The “hair” flowed freely in the wind of the Holy Spirit. We didn’t have enough spiritual hairspray to tame that unruly mess!

Yet, because of God’s willingness to honor my little mustard seed of faith, I left that house pain-free for the first time in three years.

This was the first of many situations used by God to transform me. A bit at a time, He renews my mind about what He is really like, and how He operates. Every time I begin to imagine limits to what He can do, He allows an experience that expands my understanding of Him.

[For some of you, this will raise more questions than it will answer. For instance, why me? Why not you? I wish I could offer a satisfactory answer – or any answer, for that matter. There are many people I know who live with great physical pain. They’ve prayed, been prayed over, and done everything they know to do in hopes of being healed. Sometimes I am very confused by this, myself. I only know that God used this experience to correct what I believed to be true about Him.]

There were many things I learned from that experience. The newest bit of revelation came while I typed the first half of this article!

In a way, it is not unlike Peter’s experience with the vision of the sheet filled with unclean animals. God commanded him to “rise, kill, and eat.”

Peter’s religion did not permit this (yes, I know, they had the Levitical Law – but there is a parallel here). He would have to go outside what he’d been taught was okay.

God said, “Do not call unclean that which I have called clean.”

In the bedroom at the Bible study, God was saying the same thing to me: “Your religion called this unclean. I tell you that this style of worship is clean.”

*****

 

As I consider what happened that night, I realize that my faith was not in the woman, nor in her prayer. It wasn’t in my ability to believe. In essence, I was praying, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” My faith was in God’s ability to do what He said He would do.

I needed to know that He is a God of His Word – especially at that time. I believed Him to be a horrible, unjust, cruel tyrant. I couldn’t conceive of Him as anything else in my immaturity. This was my very first exercise in understanding His grace and mercy.

Over the years, experience by experience, He has been exposing the lies I believe about Him and replacing them with truth.

I realize that His purpose had an additional lesson for me: I need to know that we are one body; that each part of the body has it’s own function – which is good. If we were all a foot – we would be a snail. We might move, but wouldn’t get much done! Through this chain of events, God introduced me to parts of His body with which I would never have been willing to associate.

Free from religious bias, I no longer call unclean that which He has called clean.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

\o/

Advertisements

Actions

Information

23 responses

19 05 2013
Pure Glory

Thank you for sharing. I grew up in a church that majored in the Bible but left Holy Spirit In the past. God has a way of dealing with our sacred religious cows. He loves to get rid of the stuffy religious spirits. His delight and incredible love for us surprises us out of boring religion into intimate relationship with him.

19 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Me, too. (Probably the same one 😉 ) I’m so glad to be done with boring religion! I’ll take an intimate relationship over that any day of the week!
\o/

19 05 2013
Pure Glory

Amen!

19 05 2013
Alicia

Wow, this is a very beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to reading more.

19 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

You’re most welcome. Come on by any time! I’m so glad we “met!”
\o/

20 05 2013
Alicia

I’m glad we’ve met as well. I will definitely be reading through your site.

20 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂
\o/

19 05 2013
Toni Sprandel

Love it! So so true! The LORD is using you greatly! Thank you for sharing!

19 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for the encouragement, Toni! 🙂
\o/

18 05 2013
dianarasmussen

Absolutely awesome beautiful! I love how you share that God exposes the lies that we have believed about Him. This was true for me too. I am grateful God loves us even when we don’t understand. Then He just shows us who He is from glory to glory…

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Diana!

I share because I believed so many lies about Him. My pastor’s wife once asked me to describe God to her. When I finished, she asked, “And you love him? Oh, Tami, that is most certainly not God.”

I’ve learned the truth of her words, and know that there are others with the same misconceptions and lies. I want them to see Him as He really is…then they won’t be able to NOT love Him!
\o/

18 05 2013
Tony

God called me and my wife out of the traditional church about 4 years ago. We left with the Pastor’s blessing. Since that time the Lord has been getting the church,i.e, Egypt, out of us. It is amazing what we have/had taken as God when it had nothing to do with God. As you might have already guessed, meeting in a house church is not popular with pastors of traditional churches. Nevertheless, we know that what we are doing and where we’re going is being directed by God.

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

The day is coming, methinks, when traditional church meetings will not be permitted. God is preparing us to meet in smaller groups, I believe. We have a house church, too, but also attend a larger non-denom. fellowship as well.

Thanks for commenting! 🙂
\o/

18 05 2013
Tony

Have you read re-imaging the church or pagan Christianity by Frank viola?

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

No. Hadn’t even heard of him. I’ll check it out.

For now, the Lord has me in the local fellowship to invite people to really know Him – to hear His voice. I’m happy to be a missionary in my own church!
\o/

18 05 2013
Kevin

Thanks for sharing this. So much of God is kept hidden because of our traditions. I have come to understand that emotions are not confirmation of truth, the word is confirmation. I say this because I bet your need for healing provided the extra push as you walked beyond the emotions that confirmed the lady was flat nuts. Our beliefs are powerful even if they are not scriptual. God blessed you that day and today I am blessed by what he did for you 🙂

18 05 2013
TeachX3

“I have come to understand that emotions are not confirmation of truth, the word is confirmation.” … AMEN!!

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

and AMEN! 🙂
\o/

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

…was you walked beyond the emotions…Now there’s a point I missed. Thanks for showing me this, Kevin.

I’m blessed by what He did, too! More by what I learned than by being without chronic back pain. Isn’t that funny?

\o/

18 05 2013
Kevin

I was raised by my mother and my older sister mostly. Emotions did play a huge part in my upbringing. However, when I discuss God’s word and get frustrated or even angry at a person who will not see things ‘my way’ I have discovered this in largely due to my lie that requires emotional upsets to remain. So when I feel the emotions rising during a conversation I start listening moreand talking less. I am not always wrong but it sure takes a lot less time to get to the scriptual foundation of what is or isn’t true. And I always require three scriptures to back anything, lot less taken out of context thisvway. 🙂

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

That’s for sure! 🙂
\o/

18 05 2013
Kevin

Walked beyond… I read walked on… lol, but yes God got me starving to give to the poor and then put a type of person I didn’t want to give to in my path. I was so hungry and he had made them all go away for so long that I could only give by using what was written as justification. Literally all of me fought against giving but I made the word my excuse to give and ive been blaming my actions on God’s word every since. I am justified because it’s written the way I do it. 🙂

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂
\o/

Your turn!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: