Today’s post continues the story. In case you missed part 1, here it is:
“Pray for Mr. Walker, Liz. There’s been an accident.”
“What?!” she gasped.
“He and Beverly were walking Ludwig, and he was hit by a drunk driver.” Liz clapped her hand over her mouth.
“Oh no!” she cried. “Where is he?”
“Cook County Hospital, intensive care.”
“But what…? How badly …?” she stammered.
“They don’t know yet. The car struck him in the back, and when he hit the pavement … Closed head injury, possible brain damage. There seems to be some paralysis. Right now they’re just hoping he makes it through the night. Just pray, OK?”
“OK,” said Liz in a voice that was barely audible. There was a pause as she waited for Sean to say something more, more news, an encouraging word, anything. But all he said was,
“Look, I gotta go call the rest of the prayer team…”
“OK, I’ll talk to you in the morning,” Liz replied, choking on her tears.
She hung up the phone, then buried her face in her pillow.
“Oh Jesus! Not Mr. Walker! Please don’t take him …” She thought of the logic of praying for someone not to go to heaven. “I mean, not yet! O Lord, this was his dream, to do the Messiah for You – Christmas Eve in the new sanctuary! Please let him do it! It would bless so many people, it would glorify You so much … And she went on for the next hour or more, praying as though the Almighty needed to have everything explained to Him, begging, reasoning, bribing, until she came to the end of herself, and her soul, exhausted, collapsed into submission.
“‘Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done,'” she quoted half-heartedly, then cried herself back to sleep.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Rehearsals went on with the assistant director in charge, but they were more like prayer meetings than practices. Everyone was praying for Mr. Walker, and everyone, it seemed, had a different opinion of what God was going to do. The age-old controversy of faith and healing grew. Being a non-denominational church, Faith Chapel had persons of many religious backgrounds – or no religious background at all. Some prayed with childlike simplicity that God would just touch and heal Mr. Walker; some secretly worried that if God didn’t heal him, such childlike faith would evaporate like a morning mist, and then what would such tender believers do? Some tried to explain that God always answers prayer, but the answer is sometimes “yes,” sometimes “no,” sometimes “wait.” This was not much comfort, and some, frustrated to the brink of tears, questioned, why pray at all then?
Some prayed for wisdom for the doctors and for healing to come through them. Others prayed that the Lord would bypass the medical profession completely and so glorify Himself only. Some prayed for God’s perfect will, not merely His permissive will; others wondered what in the world that was supposed to mean. Some even prayed “warfare prayers,” using voices full of authority, quoting the Bible as though waving a sword, and telling the devil in no uncertain terms that he could not have Chuck Walker! Others not only prayed for healing, they claimed it, quoting Scriptures that God would prove true, and becoming annoyed to no end with those who insisted upon adding “… if it be Thy will” at the end of their prayers. Of course it was God’s will – He said so right there!
Relatively inexperienced believers felt intimidated by those who could quote a staggering number of Scripture verses; however, the latter were outdone by the ones who professed to know what the words meant in the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic and volunteered to interpret for everyone.
“But we don’t really know what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was,” one member of the group protested, while another added,
“What about Job? He was a righteous man, and God let him suffer for a time…”
“Satan tormented him, not God,” yet another joined in the debate.
“But he had to get permission from God to do it!”
“And he got permission!”
“Exactly! He petitioned God. That’s why we have to counter-petition…”
As Liz tried to sort out what “counter-petition” meant, someone else changed the subject.
“Did you know that the word in Revelation for ‘witchcraft’ is ‘pharmacea’? We get the word ‘pharmacy’ from it.”
“It means literally ‘communing with the devil through the use of drugs.'”
“Are you saying …?”
“I don’t trust doctors!”
“We need to stop talking about paralysis and brain damage. We need to say, ‘he’s whole!'”
“Isn’t that lying?”
“No. He’s actually already healed. The Word says, ‘By his stripes we were healed.’ The symptoms are the ‘messenger of Satan.’ Satan’s the liar! Chuck just needs to stand on the Word of God.”
“So you’re saying that Chuck’s problem is that he just doesn’t know the Bible well enough and needs to have more faith?”
“Well, the Word does say…”
“That godly man!? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”
There was even talk of some alternative treatments, which was met with righteous indignation that anyone would suggest the use of a New Age method, which everyone knew was from the pit of hell.
A few tempers flared, and some days it seemed certain people had nothing in common except their concern for Mr. Walker.
His wife Beverly bore it all patiently. At first she did not show up for rehearsals, and everyone knew she was at her husband’s side, no doubt comforting him with her encouraging words and sweetness of spirit. Later she would come in and seem awkwardly self-conscious, no wanting to create a distraction. Everyone knew that so much wanted to be said, yet very little was, verbally. Still, there was the touch of a hand, a gentle smile, a hug that said so much, and Beverly accepted with tearful gratitude every expression of support.
For Liz, there was the impatience that came from praying everything she could think of to pray and praying it again and again, until she thought surely the Lord was sick of the whole thing, and why didn’t He just heal Mr. Walker and get it over with, so we can get on with the Messiah? Then with the realization that she was not God and could do nothing more, her soul settled into a kind of numbness.
(to be continued…)