Ms. Smallback

May 28, 2022

A new friend in the faith asked me a couple days ago how I got to this point in my faith (of praying, trusting, and believing for my health).  I just want to explain it so I don’t look so superhuman.  I am not.

My background taught me there was no human I could rely on.  My parents were not safe; my siblings were not safe; my friends were not of any depth or substance.  I was seeking something to send roots into because I was tired of being tossed around by all the chaos and turmoil in my life.  God seemed the safest bet.  So in a way, God has been the only sure thing for me, the thing I could say was consistent.  After observing hundreds of lives in the crossroads of my own, I do think not having a solid foundation was the epitome of Romans 8:28 for me.  The void of no one to trust or protect caused me to seek the One who could.

Who made your body?

I think it all began for me in 1995, when I was in a situation I needed to be awake at a certain time and I had no electricity where I was and no way to set an alarm.  I was probably more stressed about it than I should have been, but I was actually praying about it and the Spirit said, “Who made your body?”  [It resonated as the Voice that asked Moses, “Who made man’s mouth?”]  I replied with the obvious, “You did.”  To which God responded, “If I made your body, don’t you think I can wake it?”

When He said it like that I felt pretty silly.  Of course God can wake me.  So I turned that over to Him that evening.  He woke me at the right time to get home, showered and to work like I needed.  That night I was back in my bed (with electricity), and as I reached to set my alarm it seemed silly.  If God could wake me that morning, why couldn’t He wake me every morning?  It seemed going backwards in faith to now set my alarm.  So I didn’t.  And God woke me, as He has done faithfully for 27+ years now.  I have never set an alarm and He has never failed me, regardless of what time I needed to be up.

This set a precedent for me of trusting God.  In a place where I have learned to trust Him, it seems backwards, counterproductive, and failure of faith to return to the systems of the world.  The key here is “in the place where I have learned to trust Him”.  There are still many places I have not learned to trust Him, but I am knocking them out one by one.

I started here first…

So in the case of health and healing, I actually started with my mental health.  After a childhood of dysfunction and abuse, I was quite conflicted with severe issues of anger and rage, insecurity and self-loathing, wrong thinking and fortified defenses, and many other things.  I could not find peace no matter what my intellectual mind did for learning and understanding.  So I sought God.  Without going into that journey, I will highlight one particular point.

A worship song was playing in my home as I went about my chores.  As I crossed the threshold from the dining room to the kitchen, the Lord asked, “Do you trust Me, Michelle?”  What a redundant question, I thought!  As I went to respond with the obvious “of course”, I checked myself and realized I couldn’t say it with complete honesty.  After a pause, I heard myself say, “I don’t think I do.  I want to, but I don’t think I do, God.”

And that was the beginning of my great deliverance – when I realized I didn’t even trust God.  I knew I didn’t trust any human (Bill was close, though).  But I did not realize I had reserves of caution and distrust toward God.

As He spent the next several months exposing mindsets and self-sabotages, I gradually learned to trust Him.  He led me out of the prisons of my heart and mind and I was released from my captivity into the exciting narrow path of walking with Him.  Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is particularly dear to me for the parallels I could draw.

Some time after that I embarked on a journey of learning to trust Him with my physical needs.

My initial learning process

The precursor for it actually started before my deliverance when a neighbor knocked on our door and said, “I know you’re a praying family.  We have a cousin who’s dying.  Will you pray for her?”  Amy was 32 with a husband and young son, and had something happen to her brain that left her in a coma and they were told she would be dying in a matter of days.  I responded yes and we set a time in a couple days to go pray for her in the evening when Bill got off work.

In the meantime I searched the Scripture and I fasted.  I wrote down every place Jesus healed someone, raised the dead, or otherwise performed a miracle.  I meditated on these things and recalled that Christ said we would do even greater works.  I recalled that our mandate is to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, cast out demons.  By the time we went to pray for Amy my body was fasted, my faith was solid, and I was convinced God would heal her.  We prayed for hours over her unconscious body and finally left.  I waited to see what God would do.  A few days later Amy died.

This was one of a few crises of faith I had.  This one resulted in me yelling at God, throwing my Bible in a heap on the floor, and walking away.  For two weeks… until I got past the rage, the disappointment, the dismay.  The Lord beckoned me to meet with Him.  I angrily stomped up the stairs and picked up the now bent-up Bible off the floor where I had thrown it two weeks earlier, and I went to sit before Him with one question, “Why?”

He did answer.  He said, “Say Proverbs 3:5-6.”  Man that made me angry!  I retorted something along the lines of that being one of the most basic Scriptures that everyone knew.  He waited.  Finally I angrily and quickly said aloud, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  He said, “Say it again.”  I repeated it.  He said, “Say it again.”

This time when I said it…. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” He said “STOP.  Repeat that part again.”  I repeated it.  Then He said, “Repeat that last part again.”

“Lean not on your own understanding.”  Say it again, He said.  Lean not on your own understanding.  Say it again, He said again.  Lean not on your own understanding.  Now the tears were streaming down my face.  I did not know then why Amy had to die.  She was so young with a very young son.  But I learned what I needed to learn at that point in my faith walk.  I must not lean on my own understanding.

I studied God’s Word and the life of Jesus.  I applied His truths as I understood them.  I was sure He was going to heal Amy and He didn’t.  My understanding failed; not God.

The health road on my journey

This would be the backdrop that I would frame my healing adventures years later after my trauma healing.  Years later our family embarked on a journey of learning how to pray for healing.  For a decade we did not go to the doctor for an illness.  We prayed until we got our healing.  This is very hard to do with small children.  It’s one thing to suffer in pain until you get the breakthrough; it’s quite another to watch your small child suffer.

It seemed each time we were on the brink of giving in and going to the doctor, we’d have a breakthrough.  I remember a time Isabelle was maybe three or four and had an ear infection, high fever and was crying quite a bit.  I knew four o’clock was the latest I could wait before taking her to our doctor.  I called Bill on his UPS route and arranged to meet him in a parking lot.  I thought maybe we needed stronger prayer agreement and two of us together would help.  I resolved that if it didn’t I would take her to the doctor, but I sought God’s healing fervently.  I parked the car, brought Isabelle to the hood of the car and set her down.  Bill walked up, laid his hand on her forehead and commanded her healing.  She felt a pop in her ear, stopped crying and started talking.  Her fever was gone as well as the pain.

I have dozens of stories like this.  We simply learned how to pray, how to persevere, and how to listen.  I’ve held a woman’s foot in my hand and commanded her leg to grow and watched it grow two inches in my hand.  She had special shoes and had to discard her shoes after that.  I’ve prayed for two people on their death bed who turned around and lived after that.  I’ve also failed to bring instant healing through prayer many times, but watched God bring healing through a process of days, weeks and months.

I haven’t been to a doctor for illness in about twenty three years, (with three exceptions worth their own stories but not enough time here).  I’ve also studied how to walk in health and use natural means for healing, but that’s another story too.

This is my personal journey

I don’t expect anyone else to have the same convictions I do, and I have no judgment for anyone for going to a doctor.  I happen to believe in the concept of personal freedom and sovereignty.  I’d like to follow hard after my God according to my faith and allow others to do the same.

This faith journey I’m on is less about healing and more about trust.  I am learning how to trust God with as much of my life and every aspect of my life that I can.  I didn’t come out of the womb with these convictions; they have grown as my walk with Him has.  Everyone is at their own place in faith (or no place), and to expect another to have the same convictions as I is a religious spirit.  (I have no time for religion.  The opposite of religion is freedom, and it is for freedom Christ has set us free.)  God is personal. He knows His children individually.  While He has a Book of instructions, it is filled with nuances and seeming paradoxes.  As we grow in our relationship with Him, He illuminates understanding and if we are serious about following Him, we submit to His leadership.

This year I’ve had a kidney stone and later appendicitis.  I prayed for my healing, and then I had to walk it out.  It took some time and I suffered for a while.  If at any point God had instructed me to get medical intervention, I would have obeyed Him.  He did not, and so I sought His healing and He healed me.

My personal conviction is God is my God of every aspect of my life.  Maybe I haven’t surrendered every aspect to Him and there are areas that still need revealed to me, but for the ones I am cognizant of, I seek His counsel and place myself under His leadership.

I don’t expect anyone to share my convictions.  This isn’t written to condemn or exhort another to just stand in faith.  This was written to share my account in hopes it will encourage other believers to see the faithfulness of God and His trustworthiness.  God can be trusted.

Lastly…

I remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood on their convictions which led to being thrown in the fiery furnace.  They said their God was able to save them, but even if He didn’t, they would not bow the knee to the false gods of Babylon.

That always struck me.  God can, but He may not.  Nevertheless my convictions will fall on trusting God and staying true to His supreme sovereignty, and I will accept the fate that comes.  I laid in my bed the night my appendix had been inflamed for twenty hours and counting and the pain was increasing, and I recognized that it may rupture in the night and I may very well die.  The medical community is very clear on that reality.  And I yielded back to my God.  I’d trusted Him with numerous ailments over the years.  Was this going to be the one that I acquiesced to?  Was this the one that was too big for my God?  How could I go from trusting Him to seeking the wisdom and hand of man?  I could not.

I met Henry Gruver in person.  I heard his account of falling and breaking his leg and commanding it to be healed and put back in right order.  I knew he refused to go to the doctor.  For days he dragged his useless leg around, in pain, commanding it to be restored.  I can’t remember if it was five or fifteen days later that it was healed, but it was.

Russell Conwell committed to working sixteen hours every day, eight for his own life and another eight for John Ring’s (who gave his life in the war to save his).  He went on to write, practice law and real estate, become an esteemed national speaker, and found Temple University with those sixteen hour days.

Brother Yun was languishing in a Chinese prison and went an impossible 72 days without food or water, praying for the deliverance of God.  The prison doors were opened (like they were for Paul and Silas) and he walked out to an awaiting taxi, and then went on to strengthen the underground Chinese church.

John Lake refused to accept the inheritance of infirmity that ran through his family.  He labored in prayer and seeking the Word for his healing.  When he got it, he turned his attention on bringing that same healing to all around him.

It seems to me that the systems of the world are devoid of the power of God, and that the average status quo Christian is but a reflection of the world.  We don’t change it by looking like it, or succumbing to its tenets, principles and rules.  We’re not supposed to be a mirror but light and salt.  The radical believers who refuse to adhere to the world’s systems, whether they be medical, political, social, etc. are the ones who bring the changes and demonstrate there is a superior kingdom to the inferior kingdom of earth.

I’d just encourage believers today to trust God for the thing before them.  Whatever the mountain, you can speak to it.  But first, take your eyes off the obstacle and reach the unseen hand of God.  Tell Him you trust Him.  Seek His wisdom and direction for the thing you’re dealing with.  Resist the temptation to resort to the familiar systems you’ve been inundated with in this world, and seek instead God’s ways.  They rarely if ever look like the world.  Make it a matter of trust and then the faith will come.

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