Last week I wrote about a stunning moment when God spoke my name… audibly.
Today I’ll share another of the many miracles that shaped me.
The story began in a supermarket parking lot amidst the frost-bitten dead of Winter. I’d been sent out into the cold to retrieve a line of shopping carts buried under a fresh blanket of white stuff and found the carts frozen to the ground. But hey, I was twenty years old at the time—practically invincible, really—so I backed up a few paces and ploughed into the carts, right shoulder first, trying to dislodge them using my sheer awesomeness as momentum.
Yeah, they didn’t budge.
The sacro joint in my lower back did, though. The first four vertebrae locked up, sending me to worker’s comp and months of physio-therapy. Six months later I was still using a stiff pillow for lumbar support in my Bible College classes and muttering like an old person at the flaring pain in my lower back.
Watch and Pray
That’s how life was…
Until I met a Messianic Jew named Steve Lightle on the same summer mission trip where God spoke my name. Steve had been regaling us with heart-awakening stories of supernatural healings, angelic visitations, and even cooler Jesus stuff than that, so I found him between sessions and asked him to pray for my back. I never told him what the specific diagnosis was.
“Sure,” he said, and led me upstairs to the meeting room where we’d been holding our sessions. He sat me down on a chair in the middle of the floor. Several guys who’d been hanging out up there, sensing we were doing something important, started shuffling awkwardly out of the room.
“Oh, no, don’t leave,” Steve re-assured them. “Have you ever seen a miracle?”
They stared at each other in disbelief. “Uh, no, not really.”
“Then come over here and join us.”
“Okay.” So they gathered round.
Steve knelt down in front of me and held out my legs, letting my heels rest on the palms of his hands. My right leg was still three quarters of an inch ‘shorter’ (twisted funny at the sacro joint) than my left, a hangover effect from wrenching my spine in the shopping cart incident. He didn’t push, didn’t pull, just held them out without any tension of any kind.
I closed my eyes.
“No, no,” he said, gleeful. “The Bible says, “Watch and pray.” So I opened my eyes and stared at my right foot.
Then he started to pray. I can’t remember a word he said after that, because my right leg started ‘growing.’ Again, he wasn’t pushing or pulling or shifting any weight. My leg kept growing and growing, until it was exactly the same length as my left. My eyes bugged right out of my head, because I couldn’t quite grasp what I was seeing. I mean, I saw it move, friends. Untwisting all by itself.
He stood me up after the “In the name of Jesus, amen!” and I tested it out. Honestly, standing felt totally weird because I’d been out of whack so long and my muscles had already compensated for being screwed up. In fact, my hips were pretty sore for a few days after the healing because my body was adjusting to sitting normal again.
“Only God can do that,” he declared with a knowing messianic grin, and he was right. The pain (and problem) never returned.
How This Miracle Shaped Me
For starters, how could it not?
But secondly, and most importantly, God used this moment to change the way I saw him and the Christian life he’d invited me to live. If God can do stuff like this, I thought, the sky is the limit.
As a pastor, I’ve observed that people have a ‘prayer range’ with a very definite ceiling. In other words, there are things looming so big in your mind that you don’t bother praying about them (or you pray half-heartedly because you’re supposed to pray, but don’t expect anything to happen). When you experience a freakish miracle like I did, though, your prayer range increases dramatically as the ceiling has it’s lid blown sky high.
Third, I wasn’t content to have received the miracle. I wanted others to be healed, too. My lesson wasn’t just “God can do that,” but “God could maybe do that through me, too!” So I started praying for people who needed a miracle, a healing, an intervention from God. And glory to God, I’ve seen more miraculous answers to prayer than I can count.