The events of this week will someday be compiled as a chapter of a book (yes, those of you who’ve waited to hear it, I’ll someday publish a book), but for now I’ll stick with a little context and some highlights.
For my eighth birthday, my parents bought me tickets to see dcTalk in concert at the Rose Garden Arena. I was elated to scream and sing along to all their songs, but of course their biggest hit was Jesus Freak. I sang along with conviction, "What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak? What will people do when they find out it's true? I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak; there ain't no disguising the truth."
The concert was a significant event in my life, and another significant event in my life at that point was my best friend Jessica moving away. We were inseparable until the third grade. I still vividly remember the last day I saw her before she moved to Minnesota after we finished third grade. I still remember driving away from her house sobbing as I waved out the back window of my mom's old minivan.
We wrote letters every day at first, then every week, then months, then stopped. In the age of Facebook, we were reconnected, but we still didn't communicate as often. Jess was actually stationed in Germany when I moved here, but we were never able to see each other face to face before she moved back to America. Last week she messaged me that she and her husband would be visiting Germany and would like to stop in Kandern to see me. Jessica is still in the military, so they were hopping free flights across the Atlantic when there was room. Unfortunately, they got stuck in New Jersey, and the days set aside to see me were eaten up in an airport. On Monday, Jess messaged asking if I'd be willing to come with them on a road trip to Denmark to hang out with some Jesus freaks for the weekend since there wouldn’t be time to spend with me in Kandern. I had just under 24 hours to decide.
My first response was she must not understand the extent of my disability. No one wants to bring me along most places, let alone over night, let alone enough days to need my shower chair and everything. She confirmed there would be room in the rental car to bring everything, and they wanted me to come. I emailed a handful of friends the details and asked if it was wise to leave the comfort of my home for an adventure with a relative stranger (I hadn’t seen Jessica in over 18 years now). The people I asked unanimously replied it would be ridiculous to turn down a trip to Denmark, the time to spend with these friends, and meeting new people who would want to pray for me.
I excitedly packed, made the last minute arrangements, and told Jess I was coming. Jessica and Judah arrived Tuesday afternoon, and we stayed up late reconnecting and sharing joy with seeing each other and slept in Wednesday before hitting the road north.
At this point, I need to put a warning to my friends who don’t have frequent encounters with the miraculous gifts because this trip involved a lot of highly charismatic activity. Everything I participated in was in line with Scripture, and all of our prayers were in the name of Jesus.
The three of us drove to Pforzheim Wednesday afternoon where we met a nice Polish kid who’s lived here for fourteen years and began healing people miraculously in the name of Jesus near the end of his studies to become a medical doctor. Along with this new friend, we spent over five hours in intense prayer with some exciting minor changes. I felt - for the first time - the sensation of hot and cold on small patches of my calves. We celebrated with communion before a few hours of sleep to prepare us for the long drive to Denmark. Our drive accidentally ended up being a little longer than necessary, but it involved a detour through Heidelberg which was super awesome. I’d never been to that castle ruins, and it was so much fun to listen to Jessica talk about when she was stationed there and how that used to be her town. We pulled into Kolding, Denmark super late and were welcomed into a sweet couple’s home to sleep. Jessica and I were sharing a mattress on the floor while Judah camped out on the deck. As I carefully lowered myself onto the floor, I felt the intense tightness in my thighs that has been ever present over the past two and a half years. “Ugh, Jess, pray for the tightness in my quads,” I complained. “In the name of Jesus, tightness, be gone,” she commanded with her hand on my left thigh. Instantly the pain was gone.
I’ve never experienced something like that before, but there was actually no more tightness in my left thigh. “Quick do the other leg!” The tightness in the right leg reduced significantly, but did not disappear. I can’t explain that other than to say, “Because Jesus.” The tightness has stayed away ever since. I keep checking, trust me.
I woke up Friday in anticipation of more good things as we drove the final two hours to the Jesus Hotel in Aalborg, and I certainly wasn’t at a loss for people wanting to pray over me. Within the first few minutes, a crowd of four people had gathered to pray for me. Nothing happened in our first prayer time, and I went in to the larger room to hear the rest of the message on healing and the power of Jesus. Some awesome stuff happened and some awkward stuff happened the rest of the weekend, but I’m going to share two very powerful moments from Friday and Saturday evenings.
First, as the Friday evening session ended, a kind girl came up and introduced herself. She asked fairly soon if she could pray for me. Several other people quickly joined in. This was not actually the first time this happened during the day, but there was nothing next on the agenda in the evening. I pretty quickly realized this was going to go on for a while, and I was praying along fervently with the group. I could hear many of the prayers for healing of my bones, my nerves, and my muscles. Interestingly, very few of them seemed well directed. They were all in the name of Jesus, but they didn’t aptly address my specific needs. At that point, my new friend from Hong Kong came to pray for my insides. She and I had met at lunch and talked about how my most desperate desire was to have my bathroom abilities back and how people often just looked at the surface and wanted to pray for healing of what they could see even though that wasn’t what was most important. “I would love to pray for your insides,” she had told me.
When she joined the group, she prayed for my intestines, my digestion, and my other unseen functions before gently taking my hands and asking me if I was ready to heal from my emotional pain. Let me tell you, things took off at that point. I thought there was intense prayer before, but I let out some nasty sounds. I had a super long, super loud sob. You know the kind I mean? I had an ugly cry. An Ugly Cry. That thing where your body is trying to expel something deep within you through your vocal folds. Something deep within me came out, and a few people might have heard a single word in my sobs and moans amidst the louder cries. I realized there was a deep emotional pain from my accident that I’d never properly faced.
I’m all about facing emotions rather than repressing them, but unbeknownst to me, this emotion had repressed itself from the day of my accident. I woke up after surgery filled with peace that passes understanding and over flowing with the joy of the Lord; I assumed that meant I had no pain to deal with. For two and a half years, I have avoided an Ugly Cry about this situation because I didn’t think it needed it. Why would I cry when the Lord had been so good to me? I experienced pain in my accident though, and on Friday night I faced it for the first time ever. It felt amazing. I experienced a physical release with the emotional healing. I literally felt like I could breathe more deeply. My lungs had more room, and I hadn’t even noticed that they weren’t filling before.
After this experience, I thought that meant I’d be ready for physical healing Saturday, so I kept letting anyone pray for me who wanted to and tested out my ankle motions. Nothing happened. At one point near the end of dinner, a small group of people excitedly rushed up to me and insisted they needed to pray for me immediately. Of course I let them. This got intense pretty quickly though, and they demanded I stand up and walk almost pulling me which triggered my leg spasms. Along with a lot of shouting they led me in a circle around the front of the room shouting that I needed to stop doubting while they tugged and pulled and my muscles spasmed uncontrollably. Normally, I’m very good at getting the spasms under control, but I couldn’t do that in this confusing situation. I began to feel more and more uncomfortable, like these prayers weren’t about my healing. I finally stopped letting myself be dragged as the pain in my ankles was more than I’d had in a long time and someone finally brought me a chair. They kept praying, and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t pray with them because I felt like someone was praying for themselves to be the one to miraculously heal me rather than for Jesus to do the healing. Their prayer wasn’t for the glory of Jesus; it was to try to steal glory from Jesus. I checked out for a bit at that point because I couldn’t participate in that kind of a prayer. I didn’t want to be healed by a person - only Jesus. Just a minute or two later, I looked up and saw my friend from the night before.
I reached out my hands to her because I knew she could redirect the prayers to the power of the Lord. “Laura, will you pray with us?” she asked me calmly. I involuntarily began another Ugly Cry and started praying fervently. A different woman began speaking words of truth over me as I cried out to God. “He loves you. You are his precious child. He is being glorified through this. Your sins are forgiven.” The last two truths had profound impact as this woman didn’t know the words I spoke to my dad before I went into my surgery the day of my accident as I asked for God to be glorified, nor did she know my comparison of Jessica and Judah bringing me to Denmark to the story of the paralyzed man whose friends brought him to Jesus (Jesus tells the man “Son, your sins are forgiven” before he tells him “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”).
And then things got really weird. The woman holding my hands had heard a word the night before, and without any other context, she spoke a sentence related to the word as a command for what I needed to do. I screamed in response. I was praying pretty intensely, and when she told me what I needed to do, I recognized that it was true. I had an action I needed to complete before I could finish my emotional healing. Later that night, she sat beside me as I finished before the Lord what needed to take place for the emotional healing. I’m healed now. I can say that with confidence. My heart is renewed.
I also received words of truth related to my physical healing, and I processed aloud with this woman my impression that I needed to leave the Jesus Hotel in the wheelchair because this healing has to be for God’s glory alone. If I stood up and walked when someone there prayed and commanded me to, there was a chance a single person or two might have tried to claim some glory for themselves. Hundreds of people have prayed for me along the way, and none of them deserve any glory for my healing. It is the power of Jesus Christ which has healed me, and I only want him to get the glory when people see my physical healing. I can celebrate this emotional healing as being Spirit filled and completely outside the glory of people. No single person made it happen. My friend played a part in it, but it’s not about her which is why as much as I celebrate God's goodness in bringing us both together, I can't use her name. She knows her name, but she also knows the name of Jesus is what matters.
I’m writing this from my wheelchair now, but I’m healed in a new way, and I would ask you to celebrate that with me this week. Praise the Lord for his sovereign hand that prompted Jessica to invite me along, blessed the families along the way with the generous spirit to open their doors and house us as we drove, provided sensitivity to many of the people praying over me, brought several specific people together at the Jesus Hotel for me to meet, and healed my heart in the deepest places to make more room for his glorious Name - the name above all names - Jesus.
What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find out it's true?
I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak; there ain't no disguising the truth.