Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
OK, Lord, I prayed as I drove to my doctor’s appointment, I offered my body to You, and I did everything I could to prevent this sinus infection, and it happened anyway, so I trust that You have a reason for it. Thank You for whatever You have planned.
For several years I have started my prayer time with what is described in Romans 12:1, offering my body as a “living sacrifice” to the Lord. (I also offer Him my mind and my heart, but I begin with the physical.) I ask Him to cleanse my body of anything that doesn’t belong there – viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, parasites, cancerous cells, toxins, stress and other excesses, inflammation, and hindering or harmful deposits – anything that would harm me or others or hinder God’s work in my life. I ask to be a clean vessel for Him to use, a clean temple for His Spirit to live in. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with His presence. I ask for “divine health” – strength, energy, endurance, coordination and balance (physical, chemical, etc.), flexibility and reflexes, resistance and resilience.
Obsessive? Maybe, but I like to cover all the bases. I don’t expect to have perfect health in this life, but I want to be confident that if anything does happen to me physically, it’s all part of God’s plan, and not just an unpleasant detour. So this morning, although I would have preferred not be sick, I figured there must be a reason.
The doctor at the clinic was friendly. We chatted about things we had in common as she examined me, but nothing super-spiritual. She prescribed a high-powered antibiotic, which I then picked up at the drug store. Ever the well-balanced health nut, I headed directly to the health food store for a probiotic.
A customer was talking with the store clerk when I arrived, and when I was ready to check out, they were still talking. I was anxious to get home and rest, but figuring this was an opportunity to exercise patience, I waited. I learned that this customer had been diagnosed with bone cancer about a year before and had been given 3 months to 5 years to live. I was drawn into her story, and she didn’t seem to mind when I joined the conversation about chemo, radiation, and natural remedies. The lady paid for her products and, not seeming in a hurry to leave, she stood aside so I could pay for mine. But I wanted to do something else first.
“May I pray for you?” I asked her. She responded, “Oh, please do.” I asked her name, and she told me. I laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed that she would sense the presence of the Lord, that He would wrap her in His love, and that she would not leave this world one moment before He was ready to call her home. I acknowledged that He knew exactly what was wrong, and exactly what she needed, and we trusted Him to give her good things, because He loves her.
When we finished, I gave her tiny frame a gentle hug; the lady behind the counter was smiling. The three of us started talking about the Bible. I started quoting Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His … ”
“… purpose.” The saleslady found the word I was looking for. I told them about my niece’s husband whose life was saved by a case of appendicitis! During his emergency appendectomy, stomach cancer had been discovered – early enough to treat it successfully. He’s been in healthy remission for decades.
We agreed that “instant healing” isn’t always God’s way, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t answering. I told them about my book BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?) and how I had spent two years reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, noting every verse I could find on prayers that don’t get answered the way we think they should. There are numerous reasons for our disappointments besides “not enough faith,” (but it’s never God’s fault!) and for every barrier there is usually something we can do – correct our request, our attitude, our motive, or whatever else might be causing the spiritual malfunction. In the end, God will help us experience growth, if we’ll let Him.
My new friend asked where she might get a copy of this book. I laughed and said, “In the back of my car.” We walked out together and I got out a copy and wrote her a note in it. I tried to give it to her, but she insisted on paying me. I wrote my email address on a business card and handed it to her; she promised to keep in touch. We hugged (again) and said goodbye. She had a radiant smile on her face as she left.
When I finally stepped up to pay for my probiotics, the saleslady said she was glad I had prayed for the other woman. She had wanted to, but as a store employee she had been hesitant. I told her about my earlier prayer, when I had thanked God for His plan, even if it involved a sinus infection, and we chuckled at the way such detours lead us to where we’re supposed to be.
Prayer: Father, Your purposes are beyond our understanding, but as Your plan unfolds, we are glad that our lives are in Your hands, and not ours. We yield to You, knowing that there is no one wiser, no one more powerful, and no one who loves us more than You do. We thank You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(PS I heard from the lady yesterday. She was loving the book and wanted to order five more to give to relatives at an upcoming family gathering.)