Dr. Wayne Dyer once said if you find that you keep waking up every night at an early hour, it is God waking you up to give you a message. I believe him.
For the last several nights, I have been awakened at exactly 2:43 AM. Now, it is time for me to open up.
For the last several weeks I have been suffering from a neurological ailment that some doctors believe is multiple sclerosis: a disease that deteriorates your nervous tissue. This deterioration of the nerves causes numbness, and paralysis in the arms and legs, and torso. It can also calls blindness. I have experienced all of these. As of late, I have lost the use of my left hand.
I can either, accept my condition as simply life –the luck of the draw. Or, I can choose a different meaning –that the disease itself is a message. Strangely, for the last four years, I have experienced almost all of the diseases Jesus healed in the Bible. Yes, this could be simply coincidence, the result of MS. It is also possible, that it is a message. What is the message? Miracles and healing are possible.
Perhaps, it is my assignment to provide this message –beyond a speech, or sermon, but through empirical evidence. Perhaps, God wants to be marveled again like in the times of the New Testament. It seems to me, that God has chosen me to be the one given the opportunity to marvel.
There were two ways Jesus was marveled in the Bible. One way Jesus marveled, was at how much faith a person had; another way Jesus was marveled, was at the lack of faith people demonstrated. Today, I choose the former. While I do believe there is both a science and an art to faith, I must admit, that I am not confident that I know the formula. However, I am confident there is a formula. I will find it, and use it, and God will marvel.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 15 verses 21 through 28: “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coast of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coast, and cried unto him, saying, have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is previously vexed with a devil.
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and sought him, saying, send her away; for she cry us after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.
But he answered and said, it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters table.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, old woman, great is thy faith: be it unto the even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
It is clear that persistent faith marvels God. This kind of persistent faith stands in the face of God –saying yes, when God is saying no. This is not defying God, but proving that God honors faith, no matter from whence it comes. Whether you are deserving of a blessing or not, God honors faith.
The story is simple as a narrative, but its applicability is a different matter. My left hand is withered by the constant spasms of my muscles. I have seen several doctors, none who have provided much hope.
Is this lack of hope from the doctors, Jesus at the table telling me, “Shall I cast my bread to a dog?” Should I be offended by this denial and insult? Or, should I see it as a challenge? Or, is it a challenge to be persistent?
Desperation is a tight rope. You can so easily fall into despair. Or, your desperation can stir up an adrenaline that causes you to hold on. Which will it be for me? Honestly, I have fallen both ways. Some days I am hopeful that the powers of God will prevail. Then, again, there are other days that I am gripped by despair, fear, and doubt. It is most painful when my daughter reaches up for me to pick her up, and it takes all the physical strength I can muster to lift this one year old baby girl. It causes me to despair. It causes me anger. It causes me to question.
I am at the point where doctors have little help for me. So then, I must choose to believe these stories in the Bible, or choose not to believe. The answer for the religious one is simple –believe. But, there is no greater despair then when your faith goes unanswered. Yes, I know this sounds like a doubt. But, have you ever prayed and received no answer? Have you ever hoped, and prayed for a sick loved one, who still died? Have you ever been desperate, and prayed for a job that you needed to feed your family, and yet you were still denied? What do you do then? What do you do when your faith goes unanswered?
I hesitate to share this story, because of religious people who will judge. It is easy to challenge, when your hand is not withered in pain. It is easy to judge when your child is not sick. It is easy to say, “Just believe.” When you are not wrenching and pain, or when your heart is not being broken.
Regardless, I am still left with one of two options: my desperation will either drive me away from God, or cause me to cling to God.
I am told, that there is no cure. It is easy to believe that, when a professional physician tells you this.
When you are sick it takes a lot of energy from you. Faith, too, requires a mental energy. It seems, at times, the mental energy from the sickness takes away from the energy needed for faith. It reminds me of the man who told Jesus, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.”
Conveying this experience is in a way, a bit embarrassing. It is embarrassing, because I am one who has graduated from seminary. One would think that I have both the knowledge, and the faith to employ the concepts taught in the Bible.
So then, what is this message, and reason God continues to awake me at 2:43 AM? I have hope, enough for today, but I don’t know about tomorrow.
The problem is, I know most, if not all of the stories of the Bible, but they seem to have little impact in the moment. I’m not a nonbeliever, again, I believe, but help my unbelief.
The real question is, what is it that I believe, that I need to unbelief –or let go? Part of me believes that my hand will continue to be withered. The reason is because the pain is so real; the disfigurement is so obvious –to me.
Which is more real, my pain or my faith? Which is more real, the storm or the ability to walk on water? That’s an easy question when you’re reading it in a book, but a different reality when you are the one in pain.
What do you do with pain? Dealing with physical pain is one thing. That’s easy. Take a drug, any drug. Pain gone. But what do you do when the pain is in your mind? What do you do when the pain is deep within your heart? There’s no drug that can reach pain that deep. Pain that deep requires a different kind of medicine. This medicine cannot be found in a bottle. Trust me, I know. I tried to drink it away, smoke it away, sex it away, and simply deny it. None of those methods work. I needed something different, something more. Like chaos cannot produce order, pain cannot produce wholeness. Only order can produce order, and only wholeness (holiness) can produce wholeness. Holiness is not religion, just like God is not church.
Holiness is atonement. Atonement is at –one –ment. Atonement is the process of reconnecting with that original singularity, which is the true source of ultimate power. This is the place where there is healing, Hope, love, strength, and your true and original self. To find your true self, you must access this ultimate source. It is from this ultimate source that you were created. To deny this source is to deny your own reality, and to deny the possibility of you living free.
I want to be free. I choose to be free. I choose atonement. I am one with God, and God is one with me…
Until next time,