This blog is Part One. Part Two, entitled “Why Do I Write This Website?’ will be forthcoming.
I am sure most of you have heard about the Rev. Billy Graham. In 2018, his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, also a noted speaker and teacher, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She writes about enduring surgery, “seven brutal chemotherapy infusions” as well as radiation. When asked what she thought God was teaching her through her ordeal, she wrote as follows in the June, 2019 Decision magazine. “Many people who are diagnosed with something like this wonder, ‘why did this happen to me? Why didn’t God protect me? Does He not love me? What did I do to deserve this?'” She states “this cancer is not any indication that I have been bad or that He doesn’t love me or that He hasn’t blessed me. It’s just my assignment. It’s what He’s given me so I can use it to glorify Him.”
In early 2004, my wife Marie and I attended a small, country church in Maryland. I had been raised to believe in the practice of prayer accompanied by anointing the sick with oil according to James 5:14-16. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” Anointing with oil had been a practice in every church I had ever attended. My pastor and the elders had planned to anoint me with oil and pray over me but we hadn’t scheduled a time to do this. I have first-hand knowledge of several individuals who have been healed from cancer as attested to by their physicians after being prayed for and anointed.
God often speaks to us when we least expect it. January 11th, 2004 was to be the 25th anniversary service of our church. In dressing for church that morning, my mood was anything but confident, trusting, worshipful or joyful. I was still asking God why He had allowed this cancer to recur after successful surgery in 1995. I was not in any celebratory mood at all and could have just as well stayed home that morning. But I was part of the music program and choir at church so I put on my best face and with a doubtful attitude, asked God to show me something, anything in answers to my questions. There was a guest speaker that morning whose sermon was about the characteristics of an ideal church. During the sermon, I sat in the choir loft and frankly, paid little attention. However, as the sermon progressed in one ear and out the other, the still small inner voice I know to be that of the Holy Spirit started to tell me to go forward and ask to be anointed with oil. An opposing inner voice urged me to postpone it until a more opportune time. The inner debate raged like a tennis match. Our service ended with a pastoral invitation for anyone who desired prayer to come forward to an altar. I decided it is now or never. At the invitation, I looked for two elders in the congregation and asked them to anoint me with oil and pray over me right there and now. Several other men joined them. I knelt at a simple altar railing and these men prayed for my healing while laying hands on my head and shoulders. I am not an emotional person and do not shed tears readily. But the feeling I experienced can only be described as being in a shower fully clothed. “Water” seemed to be pouring over me. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I had never sensed the Holy Spirit in such an amazingly strong way. I heard the distinct command to “reach out and touch the hem of my (Jesus’) garment” reminiscent of the words a woman, plagued by years of suffering, had uttered upon seeing Jesus when she proclaimed “if I just touch His garments, I shall get well”, (Mark 5:28). I remember thinking that I cannot do this in reality since Jesus is not physically present but I reached out my hand anyway. Tears flowed from all of us men. I also heard the distinct words, “go and show yourself to the priests,” a term Jesus often cited after healing someone in the New Testament. But He is applying it to me to mean “go and show yourself to physicians especially where I had been treated”. I was confident that I had been touched in some way. As the service ended, I stood to my feet with a dazed look on my face. My wife Marie had been watching and could see something very unusual was taking place. In short, I had never in my 62 years experienced God’s (or Jesus’) presence through the Holy Spirit as I did that Sunday. Was I physically healed? No. What did this all mean? I had been given an assignment. I had many lessons to learn in the process and this was just the beginning. (For more information, see the My Story portion of this website, for the years 2004-5.)