Friday, May 06, 2016

Healthy on the Inside

Sandy was visibly upset when she approached me after church one Sunday. “I have an urgent prayer request. My friend, Pam, was in a terrible car accident last night. She’s in intensive care at St. Mary’s with a broken neck. It’s uncertain whether she will ever walk again.” Then Sandy added, “Ironically, she was planning to come to church with me this morning, and now this happened.”

That afternoon, I made the long trek to Duluth to visit Sandy’s friend.

Pam, strapped and bolted in a Stryker frame, recognized me immediately as I entered her room: “I was going to visit your church this morning.”

“Well, I came to visit you instead.”

We had a deep, meaningful conversation and concluded with prayer. I could tell her heart was especially tender toward spiritual things.

As I headed toward the door, she said, “Don’t be surprised when I walk into your worship service some Sunday.”

Several months later, I was preaching, when the sanctuary door opened and Pam entered. After extensive therapy, she had learned to walk again. She hobbled down the center aisle and sat near the front. I stopped mid-sermon to explain the miracle we had just witnessed, and the congregation gave Pam a standing ovation. God’s message that morning was far better than the one I had prepared.

Pam attended regularly after that, discovering a rich and vibrant faith. It was exciting to see her grow. We baptized Pam on the one year anniversary of her accident. On the shore of Little Round Lake, before stepping into the water, Pam gave the following testimony: “A year and a day ago, I was healthy on the outside, but unhealthy on the inside. An accident left me not so healthy on the outside. But thank God, I’m healthy on the inside. I’d rather have this than that any day.”

Jesus brings beauty from brokenness. As Rumi, the Afghan poet observed, “Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure."

(An excerpt adapted from my book, Purple Fish)

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