Monday, 26 January 2009

Stand Up And Be Healed

One of the consequences of me moaning on about how much discomfort I'm in is a huge rise in the number of people offering to pray for me. The good Lord has probably become aware of an increase in the volume of prayers badgering him to do something about my condition, exhorting him to bring about some kind of healing in the hope that I'll stop whining and start writing something funny again. The sheer number of people offering to intercede on my behalf is both humbling and bewildering. Warming because of the number and variety of people who have made this kind offer, from close friends who have known me for decades to people who know me only from reading this blog. Bewildering because... well, we'll come to that.

God and I have a history. You will have gathered that if you have read some of my previous posts. The matter of healing has been a recurrent theme in our dealings with each other, sometimes leading to a degree of embarrassment, possibly on both our parts. I'll give you a for instance or two.

I was once participating in a Methodist meeting at a huge hall in Cornwall. The place was packed with hundreds of people who had come to hear Rob Frost speak and Polly and others perform some comedy sketches. I was at the front of the hall and had addressed the crowd as a kind of warm up act and was followed by a time of worship, where hymns and praise songs were sung. It was all very jolly and with my bit over I was feeling quite relaxed, allowing my mind to drift off to wherever my mind wanders off to on such occasions. I was bought up short when a lady in the balcony, shouting out between songs, declared that she had a message from the Lord. The man leading the event, a minister called Steve, glanced anxiously around but the lady remained standing, arms raised in a charismatic manner, and declaimed loudly for all to hear, that the message was for the young man in the wheelchair. Six hundred pairs of eyes turned to fix on me, all safe in the knowledge that it was nothing to do with them, and intrigued to hear what the Almighty had in store for the only person in the hall in a wheelchair, me. Satisfied she had everyone's attention the lady continued, speaking in that peculiar 'God-speak' such people use when they purport to be receiving dictation from the Lord. I'm giving you the gist here, but it went along the lines of

The Lord God sayeth, blessed are his people who drinketh from the fresh spring of righteousness. The valley shall be raised and the mountain smote low by the mighty hand of Jehovah and the holy woodpecker of faith.


She continued in this pseudo-King James bible language for a while, before getting to the nitty-gritty.

The Lord your God sayeth that the blind shall see and the lame shall walk. He beseecheth ye that they who have faith and believeth in the Son of Man shall dance and leap for joy. Step forth and rise up in the name of his holy name, so commandeth the God of Abraham.


Uh-ho thinks I. Would now be a good tine to mention that even in the best of times I'm not your dancing and leaping for joy type? With every eye fixed on me, I adopted what I hoped was a look of spiritual contemplation and prayerful consideration. Everyone watched me in breathless anticipation. Were they about to witness a miracle of biblical stature? As I reddened with embarrassment I swear I was tempted to try to rise from my wheelchair and then fall forward, flat on my face, and say loudly, “so, the message wasn't for me then. Damn.”

I will forever be grateful to Steve for moving the meeting on before my embarrassment became terminal.

On another occasion I was visiting a well known evangelical church in London called Kensington Temple. Just before the service began a group of people approached me and before I knew it had encircled me and were 'laying hands' on me. Several of them started to pray in tongues and became increasingly ecstatic. One of the group placed his hand on my head and exhorted me to “Stand up in the name of Jesus.” When I failed to do so he became quite agitated. “Rise up in the name of Jee-sus!” he demanded. I shrugged apologetically, sorry to disappoint him. Suddenly the atmosphere changed. “If you truly believe you will be healed.” Nothing happened. The group backed away from me. Someone looked at me disapprovingly and said, “you have to want to be healed.” The group wandered away from me muttering sadly at my lack of faith. Suffice to say I didn't much enjoy the sermon that followed on the theme of miracles.

So, does this mean I don't want people to pray for me? Not at all. I genuinely appreciate the sentiment. I simply reserve the right not to be healed on demand. It's not my fault, nor yours, if God withholds his healing spirit from me. But that makes God sound rather petty doesn't it. Perhaps it's a bit more complicated than that. I'll regale you with my theological theory another time. In the meantime, thank you for your concern and your support. Just go easy with the laying on of hands stuff.