The morning after we arrived in Saint Augustine we were heading out to do some sightseeing, and Thomas and Annamarie were loading my scooter into the van while Ron got some information from the front desk. A man walking through the hotel parking lot asked the kids if they needed help, and I smiled and said, "They're actually quite efficient." The stranger, an average looking fortyish man, asked if he could pray for me, as he had performed some healings in the past.
The first time a stranger assured me I would be healed by the intercession of his prayers, I was in sixth grade and visiting my friend Vicky's church after a sleepover. Already a bit uncomfortable with the unfamiliar rituals at her Lutheran church, I was mortified when the priest singled me out at the communion rail. With his hand on my head, he said for the entire congregation to hear, "I don't know what your problem is, but you will be healed."
This sort of thing happens to me every few years, and I can barely begin to unravel the mixed feelings it brings out in me. To start with, I have spent my entire life learning to love myself and to believe that my disability is part of God's perfect plan. He made me this way and as the saying goes, He don't make no junk. Then again, there is a part of me that so wants it to be true...I want to be healed.
Because I don't believe that you can ever have too many prayers said over you, I agreed to pray with the parking lot man, and afterward he instructed me to get up and walk (I had been sitting in the car). Not surprisingly it was the same old lurching walk I had before his prayer, and I was vaguely humiliated, enough to say "No thank you" when he asked if he could try again. (Aren't you sorry you have never shared this experience?)
The worst part of dealing with these well-intentioned people is that for a long time afterward, I have the nagging feeling that maybe I just didn't have enough faith. I believe wholeheartedly that God could heal me if it was His will, and who am I to say that He isn't going to send some stranger in a parking lot to do it? I end up feeling anger at the person for giving me false hope and guilt because I didn't really believe it was going to work, and if I did might it have worked? and renewed anger at them for making me question my faith.
When I refused his offer to try again, I noticed Thomas and Annamarie watching wide-eyed, so I chose my words carefully. I said, "I do believe that God will heal me, but I don't think it's going to be on this earth." He disagreed, saying that he thought God wanted me to be dissatisfied with my disability and to pray and beg for healing. "God wants you to have joy now," he said, and I assured him that I do have joy, that I believe God wants me to be joyful and hopeful in spite of my afflictions.
...there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure... For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me... And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - II Corinthians 12:7-9
I can't quite bring myself to brush these people off as lunatics, but it might be easier on my heart if I could.