Your Horrible Past (Is Not So Horrible)
I’ve only seen one person be instantaneously healed in my lifetime, and it wasn’t until last week that I was totally sure it happened.
Last week, I wrote a tribute to my late friend John Moorhead, and I sent a link to some of my old coworkers from the clinic where John and I worked. I was a little nervous, wondering if it would just serve as a reminder to them of how annoying I was back in college when I was a high-octane holy-roller.
In the message, I said, “I hope you enjoy this somewhat painful walk down memory lane . . . I think of all of you very fondly (and appreciate how gracious you were in the face of my religious wackiness).”
I did not expect Jason Walker to respond.
Jason and I had never gotten along particularly well when we worked together. He was the cool frat boy whom everyone liked; I was the Jesus freak who didn’t go to movies, watch TV, go on dates, or drink excessive amounts of caffeine. Fifteen years later, I assumed he’d be just as uninterested in the article as he was in hearing me preach at him when we were in college.
Jason did, in fact, respond to my message, and his reply caught me off guard: “Very well said, Joshua. I think you would be surprised at how many respected your ‘religious wackiness.’ I did.”
I was taken aback and didn’t quite know how to respond. Jason was never one to flatter me – I mean, warm and fuzzy, he was not. In fact, the only time I could remember us even being friendly was the time we had a mini-faith-healing service in the clinic parking lot.
I was driving the golf cart one night at the clinic, and I offered Jason a ride to his car. He was rubbing his temples and being very quiet, so I asked him what was wrong. He said he had a horrible headache.
At the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I suppressed a strong, sheepish feeling and asked, “Do you want me to pray for God to heal you?”
Without a hint of sarcasm in his voice, Jason quietly said, “Sure, go ahead.”
I laid my hand on the back of his head and boldly prayed that the headache would leave. Immediately after I said “amen,” Jason looked up, seemed startled, and said, “It’s gone.”
“You got healed?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s gone, my headache is gone. Seriously, it’s gone,” he said.
We sat in the golf cart and had a brief, light-hearted conversation about how awesome it was, and then I drove away. And I don’t think we ever talked about it again until last week, when I sent him a message and asked if he actually remembered it, whether it really happened.
He replied, “Yeah, I remember. I wasn’t playing. It was pretty cool as I recall.”
The whole exchange with Jason seemed like a correction from the Lord.
I’ve spent so much time over the years belittling my holy-rolling college years – as if I needed to spend the rest of my life apologizing for the process it took to grow up as a Christian. My conversation with Jason made me stop and realize that there was a bigger miracle at work back in my college days, and it was this: God was able to use me in my brokenness back then, just like He is now.
Think about it: when I’m 50, you know I’m going to look back at my life in my early thirties and cringe at some of the things I’ve written and some of the decisions I’ve made as a dad and husband. But that doesn’t mean that all the old versions of me are a joke.
All of the phases of my life – along with the brokenness in them – are lovely, because they are part of the process God has used to get me where I am now. And because the Lord has been at work in the various seasons of my life, I can look upon them with fondness, raise my hands and praise Him – for He can make anything beautiful.
But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.