“Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins–He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.'” Luke 5:23-24
About noon, my foot gently slipped while walking over gravel on the way to the dining hall at Eagle Rock Retreat Center. We had all been hustling about in preparation for the Deeper Still retreat to start later that day. Nothing big. My foot didn’t hurt and I continued walking and talking with a friend as we made our way to lunch not thinking another thought about my stumble.
Seven hours later, the Deeper Still retreat had started. Three team members made their way to the front of the room to share their testimonies before we all broke into small groups to share our stories. Out of nowhere, I began to feel excruciating pain build in my left ankle. The longer I sat, the worse it became. It was difficult to focus on the stories being shared up front as I tried to hide my wincing from the agony in my ankle.
Feeling like this could be spiritual and an attack since I was leading a small group that night, my first inclination was to press through and not let this hindrance hinder. As I stood up when it was time to break into groups, I realized this pain was not only real, it was worse than I thought. I took off my cute boots, opted for more sensible shoes, and made the trek from the main building to the building next door where we would meet for sharing our stories.
As our group shared their stories, the pain intensified and while I was able to hide the wincing in the big group, it was more difficult in the small group to hide my pain. This is true in life as well. It is easier to hide our pain in crowds than in close-knit settings.
After a few stories, I knew if I didn’t excuse myself from the group, my foot could go from a nuisance to a distraction. By this time, my ankle was swollen, red, and hot. As I stood up to excuse myself, I realized I couldn’t walk on my left foot at all. One of the other sweet team members carried me on piggy-back to the main building. Four team members loved on me and cared for me, brought me ice and ibuprofen, and prayed for me.
Tears ran down my face as I endured the pain, but those tears were for more than just a sore ankle. A fresh internal wound had shaken me prior to this retreat and internally I was hurting far worse than my ankle. My wobbly foot reflected the unsteadiness in my soul. Insecurities had risen from this heart wound, revealing the need for a more deeply rooted anchor that would not be easily shaken.
Over the past several weeks as I had tried to work through this heart wound, internally I was extremely wobbly. When we feel wobbly, we may reach for external sources to try to steady our steps and we may even hope for a piggy-back ride while we work through the painful process of recovery. As we search for our foundation, we may try to find security or confidence in people, performance, possessions, or positions. But these were never meant to hold us up nor can they. They are not God. There is only one God and only He can hold us up and give us true and lasting security.
Other times, people reach for external substances or addictions such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, or food, but it isn’t limited to those. Anything used to replace Jesus is a stronghold that is less than adequate and dangerous. It will not comfort longterm, and only leads to destruction.
As I sat there with my foot elevated, numb from ice and tears falling down my face, I knew the Lord was very close to me (He is always close to the brokenhearted-Psalm 34:18). I said to Him, “Lord, you know I am already hurting internally and now this?” My heart was sad as I knew that if I couldn’t walk in the morning, I would need to go home. It would be too much of a distraction if I couldn’t walk the next day.
I quietly whispered to Him, “Lord, would you heal me? If you don’t heal me, I’ll have to go home. I can’t not be able to walk.” With those last words of the night, I went to sleep.
Morning came. I hesitantly put my foot on the ground and stood up. No pain! No wobbling! I was completely healed! There was no more pain, swelling or anything! I even danced later that day! God had completely healed my ankle!
How sweet of Him to restore my ankle to wholeness and take all the pain away. What a beautiful promise and reflection of what He is doing internally as well, not just in my heart but what He was eager to do in every hurting heart on that mountain. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals.
Sometimes God uses a process of healing to cultivate intimacy and trust, and other times He chooses a miracle.
This miracle was a faith builder for every participant in the room and a declaration from Him that the same God who heals the lame, is able to forgive all sins and heal the brokenhearted.
All I know is that I couldn’t walk and now I am healed. I was blind but now I see. I was wobbly and now I am standing firmly on the Rock. He is faithful. He is unwavering. He is never wobbly or insecure. We can count on Him to be our strength. He will carry us to a place of healing, firmly rooted and secure in His love. There is no other anchor that will hold. Only Jesus.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. ” Psalm 147:3
Father, forgive us when we look to anything else to be our source of comfort or security. May you be our Rock and firm foundation. Thank you for how you heal and bind up our wounds. Thank you Lord that you care about every detail of our lives. Thank you for being our Healer. Lord, we ask you do it again this weekend in Fallbrook, CA, as another retreat is being held there this weekend. Do it again and heal every heart there. You are the miracle worker and we love you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.