The air was electrified. Intercession was reaching fever-pitch as the faithful numbers gathered around their pastor, praying for his healing. The Lord had issued a call to His people to enter into a faith they had not known before and His body, with few exceptions, was united in its approach to the Throne of Mercy on his behalf. A man stood on the platform, leading the congregation in its righteous appeals for God to reveal His Hand and stand the paralyzed pastor on his legs. No small feat, the pastor had been paralyzed for twenty-two years and yet most prayed with one eye on the pastor, fully expecting the mother of all miracles.
Groanings too deep for words could be heard vibrating among the throng. To hear the young crying out for their pastor’s healing was a sight to behold and a sound that would raise the hairs on one’s neck. A singular young man, not yet fourteen, stood off to the side observing the proceedings with the most expectation of anyone. He was convinced the man would get up and walk away from his wheelchair any moment. He had a vested interest. The man being prayed over was his dad.
The minutes crept agonizingly by and each swipe of the clock’s hand brought with it a reduction in faith. The swell of intercession tapered as the pastor’s body remained resolutely fixed to the chair. Still, the faithful fought on and there were moments when hearts rallied, especially when the man of God asked the pastor to respond in faith by rising from the chair. As the pastor pushed up on the armrests of his wheelchair and struggled to lift his heft on two equally impotent legs, the crowd watched intently and the chorus of intercessions cascaded like the sound of many waters.
Fighting to hold himself up, the pastor never felt the fire of healing course through his legs, nor was there a shot like a thunderbolt to free him from his condition. In the few moments the pastor held himself aloft, all he could think of was how disappointed the young and the baby Christians would be. He himself may have had the slightest hint of disappointment, but it would quickly give way to a measure of peace that gave wings to his spirit. Still, he was worried for those who wanted so desperately to see God do His thing.
Balancing in the air with the strength of no one else save himself, the pastor finally succumbed to gravity and fatigue and sat solidly back on the cushion of his wheelchair. It was silent, almost imperceptible, but air went out of the room in that moment as from a balloon. The crowd still stood in the posture of prayer but no one was praying. All seemed flat, deflated.
My son! he thought with sudden misgiving, my poor son! Just that morning his son had had such expectancy for the miracle that he told his dad to be sure to put the regular captain’s chair in the back of the van before they left for church. Why? the father queried.
“Duh, Dad. You’ll need it ’cause you’re gonna be healed today. And you won’t need the wheelchair anymore, so you can sit in a regular chair!”
Oh, Graham; my poor, poor Graham…
What the father did not know until later that day was that the Lord was giving his son the best miracle of all in those agonizing moments. Just when the teen’s heart was getting ready to fly out the doors in disappointment and retreat, the boy witnessed a miracle unlike anything anyone else in that room would see that morning. He saw the Lord.
Coming in from the back of the auditorium and wending His way through the crowd–and not touching a single soul–the boy’s young eyes watched in a vision as the Son of God walked deliberately up to his father, then kneel. He reached His glorious Hands to the lame man’s ankles then turned and looked in the direction of the doubting son. The face was obscured by a brilliance of light so much so that he could not ascertain any features, but there was no doubting in his young mind Who this was.
The events I’ve just described did, in fact, occur, and I, as you may have guessed by now, am the “unhealed” pastor and the boy is my son.
Although Graham was shown such a merciful picture of the Glorious Presence (and I believe that he truly did see it), my son has been so angry at God for the past three years. He believes that God tricked, deceived and walked away from His obligation to heal his father. God failed him, therefore, he would go on a dark spiritual rampage to pay Him back.
And all of it–every single ugly ounce of it–God has been using to redeem our son. All the pain my boy has brought into this family, every sleepless night and joyless day; each rebellion and embarrassment, along with the aggregation of lies and deceptions, defiance and untruths–all of it–has become as moldable clay in the Hands of the Potter. God is expertly taking the mess that our son has made of his life and is bringing forth a beauty that may take a long time for us to see in its fulfillment, but it is coming forth indeed.
I can’t wait to share the rest of this story. It is one, as they say, for the books. Sandy and I do not kid ourselves into thinking that it is over, forgotten and beaten. There will surely be more painful miles to travel, but we will do it as a family, sharing them with a son who has seen the Lord not once, but three times (oh, yes!), and, by the grace of God, he can now put the burden of his hate at the foot of the Cross. And leave it there.
(Check again for the rest of this story in a day or two; how Glorious is His Love!)