Reflections by Joseph Ostrander
What does that single word invoke in your imagination? Is there a longing for the expected elements that elicits stirrings for a perfection unimaginable?
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— thethings God has prepared for those who love him— 1Cor 2:9
And then verse 10 adds:
“…these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.”
Was there an element of heaven experienced, or better understood as expressed, this morning during our weekly gathering together? I think the idea that Chris was communicating to us, “revealed by his Spirit”, was an interactive, living, breathing, hands-on expression of what the kingdom of heaven looks like. I think we were invited to participate in heaven-on-earth dynamics that are meant to develop in us that “divine curiosity” Chris mentioned last week in his opening prayer before the teaching time.
But the awkward tension we experience in the here-and-now that is an admixture of the now and the not yet, makes for an uneasy element of this faith walk we continue on. Why would God ask us to pray impossible prayers of healing and leave us in the pregnant pause of…not yet???
The Vineyard Organization, along with most charismatic church expressions, believes in the power of divine healing. And there is a rite/ritual associated with such praying; the laying on of hands.
I do believe the human touch conveys much more than a simple religious gesture. It extends ourselves to others that are truly in need of a miraculous touch. I think we choose to identify with the fragile existence we all share when we identify with the challenges other saints are dealing with. It can communicate sympathy, but more accurately, support, compassion, encouragement, and even the more elusive element of hope…
But what about the saints that were prayed for this morning? Was there a miraculous realization for Chris or Sarah, or Larry or Judy? Did they experience a genuine correction to the complex health issues they suffer from?
In a paper I wrote many years ago about the healing of Jairus’ daughter, I concluded that God is neither indifferent to our sufferings, nor is He obligated to assuage them. Healings as we understand them seem to be the exception rather than the norm here in the tension of the here and not yet.
God’s sense of fairness, along with His crazy extravagance, is bestowed upon both the just and the unjust. Jesus made this point recorded for us in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, verse 45b:
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
It is not a stretch of my faith to actually believe that amazing miracles happen each and every day throughout the world. I do believe they happen. But when I timidly pray for the Good Lord to hear my petition for the dear saints I prayed for this morning, there is a nagging sense of futility in trying to experience that explosive collision between heaven and earth in the Del Mar Elementary School gym we gather in. Haven’t we dedicated that space to experience a God that seems more elusive than available for the divine interventions we ask for???
Mark 9:24 has this very visceral prayer that I wish to repeat as my heartfelt cry:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Think about it…