After these powerful experiences in inner healing prayer the dust began to settle and I came to some conclusions about my faith and a way forward. I want to address some of these in really no particular order.
My questions about the Bible did not magically cease. I have come to the realization that my questions and concerns about the Bible are both valid and correct. The solution is not that there are mysterious answers to these questions but that my paradigm for approaching the Bible was incorrect. Again, I promise to write more about my conclusions to this later.
Next, the forgiveness towards my parents was proved true by the fact that for the first time in months I experienced the desire to reconnect with my parents. I started calling them on Sundays and made a commitment to see them over break. I wanted to make sure they knew that I had forgiven them after the harsh words we had the last time I was down. My relationship with my parents is still touchy and I need to set boundaries but a phrase keeps coming to mind that I need to give them “grace to be human.” I am trying to accept them for the broken people they were as young adults raising a family, and broken people as they are now entering retirement and their old age, not as who they should have been or should be in my opinion.
While my forgiveness towards my parents was complete my ex was another story. I continued praying for healing for what happened between us and it was actually this prayer that triggered a spiral down into a place where I was sincerely contemplating suicide. I wrote more about this right after I went through it. It got worse before it got better. Luckily I was able to pull out of this and not seven to fourteen days later experienced a rather dramatic return to joy and a pervasive sense of well-being. In hindsight I realize that I was forced to run an emotional marathon right after going through an emotional surgery of sorts. The healing God brought me also removed some dysfunctional structures I had used to shore up my life. I was then forced to deal with some very difficult memories and realities without any of my old structures for support. It was Easter (so all my issues with God were hit), it was Mother’s day (and my mother contacted me, which hit all my issues with family) and it was my ex-‘s birthday (last year, the day after her birthday she really hurt me and I knew the relationship was over but it was still limping on). Additionally, there was probably a pretty severe demonic attack. I’m sure their attitude was something like, “Well he’s paying attention to us now. Our time is short and we better do everything we can while we have time left!” This return to joy was pretty dramatic and there was no identifiable cause or reason for this to happen other than the work of God.
Several months before coming to Fuller I started taking Humira, a very powerful medicine for my arthritis. During this time I recognized the fact that over the years I have developed a very high pain tolerance and am able to be a lot more physically active than I “should be” given the arthritis I have. My two noticeable symptoms were pain in my knees, stiffness in my neck, and pain in my lower back. Going on Humira and doing chiropractic care (courtesy of Tim Weimer, who donated his valuable services to support my ministry. Thank you brother!) resolved all of these symptoms. In my time at Fuller pain in my lower back served as an additional reminder to take my bi-monthly shot of Humira as it only came back when I was getting close to being due for another shot. After doing yoga once a week for months and after being prayed over and going through inner healing prayer my back pain dropped off completely to the point where I forgot to take my medicine. I read it was inadvisable to go off the medicine without consulting a physician so I resumed my medicine two weeks late even though my pain had not returned. I started experiencing dizzy spells, and this is a possible sign of a serious side-effect…nerve damage. I contacted my physician and described the situation. His advice was to discontinue the medicine for a time and see how well it goes. If I needed to get back on the medicine I could contact him. So far I am severely overdue for a shot and my pain is negligible.
I have also not returned to any organized church and feel no desire or pressure to do so. I have just enough faith to follow God’s very gentle calling to show up at Pasadena International House of Prayer a lot this summer and be open to what he and others have to say to me there. I am also trying to be part of Live Bones more, a student group here on campus, which is very much concerned about a legit spiritual life among the student body, not just education.
I feel that my faith is currently a quest to know the power and love of God. Without knowing that God can act in this life, there is no point in worshiping Him or continuing in faith. Without knowing God’s love for me, I cannot trust Him to use that power on my behalf in ways that are ultimately for me.
I know see two general trajectories for my life. Either God shows up more and I go the route of Chuck Kraft, an evangelical who was originally suspicious of the work of the Holy Spirit until his “conversion” after being a missionary to Nigeria, or God does not show up this summer and I go the route of Bart Ehrman, who was raised and trained in the faith, but lost faith and now tries to write books to stir up controversy and make money. I honestly don’t know what this summer holds but I’d bet that God will continue to show up at Pihop and speak to me a lot this Summer about the way I should go.To know the power and love of God.