Normal No More, part 2: transformed!

Resurrectional transformation can and should be expected to manifest wherever resurrection is needed.  Five years ago, I stood with my friend Lee McDougald, who was dying of Parkinson’s Disease. I had walked alongside him as he shuffled through three airports, but then, one night, as I stood beside him, I watched him be dramatically, absolutely, completely, utterly healed of “incurable” Parkinson’s. That is transformation.

One year ago I was overcome by the reality of the transforming power and presence of the rule and reign of God as I watched another friend, Delia Knox, pop out of her wheelchair and begin to walk for the first time in over 22 years. What began as an unsteady, unbalanced shuffle, before the end of the night became a high-stepping march, full of confidence and direction, and now she dances as she worships her Healer. That is transformation.

A month ago, I met a man whom I will call Charles (not his real name) from New York. When Charles was a boy of about seven, a neighbor’s big brother in his apartment complex took him under a stairwell and began a molestation that would continue for two years. As Charles grew, he decided that he would never be touched, nor would he touch anyone, ever again. At the age of 62, Charles was a recluse. He weighed 365 pounds, cut his own shoulder-length hair to avoid going to a barber, and put cardboard over all of the windows in his apartment to keep out the light. One day, the wife of a local pastor who knew of Charles, took a friend to visit him. Out of sheer courtesy, he let them in and agreed to pray a prayer of salvation with them, but, as he says, even though he was just being polite, something happened. The Holy Spirit began to speak to him. The Lord gave him a new way of eating and a desire to follow through, where numerous diets had failed him. Before long, he began to write worship songs, though he had never been musical in his life. He then found he had a real desire to be with fellow believers, so he sought out the pastor whose wife had prayed with him. Soon, he began to call the church office and sing these new songs over the answering machine, and the worship team learned the songs and incorporated them into their Sunday services. Now, just three years later, Charles has lost 115 pounds, he has written about 15 worship songs that his church sings, he waves the banners as he worships at the front of the church, and when I met him at a retreat in North Carolina, he had never been out of his small geographic area. That week, he stayed in a hotel room for the first time. He packed a suitcase for the first time, just to spend five days with about fifteen other men that he did not know. The first day, he was a bit withdrawn, but by the end of the week, he was leading us all in worship and he didn’t want to leave. That is transformation.

I have an older sister named Debi, whom I barely knew growing up. From the age of thirteen, Debi was in and out of mental hospitals and bad relationships. One of my earliest memories of her is waking up to sound of her screaming because she had overdosed on some kind of pills, and then had decided that she didn’t want to die. I was 8 years old when I looked out the window and saw my Dad running across the lawn with Debi in his arms, rushing her to the hospital. She went on to attempt suicide numerous times in the coming few years. The Lord has done many wonderful things in Debi’s life since that time. As a divorced mother of two young boys, he brought her a husband who loves her unconditionally and they had another beautiful baby. He gave her physical healings, a deep love for Him, and an even deeper faith that He is good. She even went on to earn her Master’s degree in Special Education, but Debi had never truly been free from the mental and emotional turmoil that had been the always present “hound of hell” for most of her life.  Two weeks ago, I walked into our worship center at Deeper Life Fellowship just before the start of our second morning service, and I saw Debi praying with the wife of one of my Elders. Four days later, on Thursday, Debi called me and said, “I just had to tell you something. Ever since I was thirteen years old, I have battled with bi-polar, racing thoughts that never let up, and fear of the night and the dark. But this morning, the Lord woke me up early and reminded me that ever since Sunday morning, my mind has been at rest, and I have had no fear of the dark or the night. Last Sunday, when we were singing that He ‘breaks every chain,’ He broke my chains. For the first time in 45 years, I am truly free.” That is transformation.

And then there is Sam Noerr, or Andrew Turner, or Jorge Cancel, all of whom will tell you that after losing their long-held, good-paying jobs, they walked through months, in two cases over a year, with a new, confident assurance that as sons of the living God, they need not be anxious, because the Father would faithfully provide for them and their wives and children.  If they were writing this, they would tell you story after story, not only of how God has consistently cared for them, but how their own orphan hearts have found their identity as sons in the Father’s house. Anxiety is now unnatural for them. That is transformation.

May you live today in an atmosphere of constant expectancy in the presence of the Only Living God.

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