Real Faith

This time last year I was praying for people with the confidence of knowing that all I prayed for were healed or at least whose conditions didn’t worsen. I’m not exaggerating. When God healed me He left me with a powerful faith and, I suppose, ordained my steps to come in contact with those He wanted to heal. Maybe He was protecting me from seeing the sad side while He strengthened and prepared me for that. Either way, it sure is easy to believe your prayers matter when He answers them all.

It’s a lot harder to pray with serious, passionate faith when you know it might not matter. You might look like an idiot. They might die anyway. You might have given someone false hope or become a stumbling block. You wonder if you overstated God. Maybe they’ll blame you for getting the miracle they would have preferred to go to someone else. All people of faith likely encounter at least one of these issues, even if it doesn’t bother them like it does me.

I’ve told you before how lonely it can be as a miracle recipient. Your friends are in (appropriate) awe of what He did for you, but few can relate. The enemy doesn’t stop attacking just because God’s hand touched us so perfectly, and we don’t magically turn into superstars of faith who need only a moment of prayer to face hard times. We mira-cured (yup, I just created a word, like it? As in “miracle” and “cured” combined. How many believers do you think it would take to share the good news about His miracles to get that word used into mainstream use?) struggle with fears that the miracle will come “untrue/undone” in some way, or that something worse will happen that overshadows the goodness. Some of us feel so shocked about having been mira-cured that we “know” God wouldn’t give us another awesome miracle down the road. When pondering this today, I realized I’m in that camp. If something really bad happened to me, my immediate response would not be, “Wow, what a great opportunity to commune with God! I can’t wait to see how He fixes it this time!”. Nope. If I got really bad news again I would paste a smile on my face (like I always do, what’s that about? I start thanking every staff member profusely, and apologize for taking up space), and by the time I got to my car I would have my whole funeral planned.

I do not say this as a prophecy, just as an embarrassing truth. I decided it’s better to face now than to have to learn the lesson the hard way. Because the tragedy of that scenario wouldn’t be that I died, but that I lost faith, which is the primary requirement for glorifying God. The lesson shouldn’t be that God maxes out on miracles. It should be that our faith is ever-growing and stretching. Despite what we know about people dying. No matter how many times we have prayed and seen the opposite of what we’re asking for happen, we must try again. We will not grow weary of doing good. We will not fall away and lean on our own understanding when times are tough. We will not discount God because it’s easier to use human terms and expectations. It was true yesterday that all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And tomorrow, the same will be true.

In Mark 9:14-29 there is an awesome story about a man whose son was possessed with an evil spirit. The disciples had the authority to cast it out, but even though they did tons of great works, they could not cast it out. Did the man go home and complain about the wasted trip? Nope. He took his son to the leaders and asked Jesus for help. Did he have faith that Jesus would heal him? Not much. He said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v. 22).

So, this guy wasn’t certain Jesus would or could fix it, but he was desperate enough to stick around.
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He was like, “IF you can!” Can’t you hear the indignation there? The man should have had faith, because he knew enough about Jesus to bring the boy there in the first place! But, like me, this guy struggled a bit. The man responded, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Think about that. He said he believed, but acknowledged the difficulty. He knew that Jesus could help his unbelief in the first place. It seems weird, to ask the guy you want to believe in for help believing in Him. But he was being honest. It’s hard stuff. I’m sure his faith had been destroyed bit by bit when each disciple had failed at their attempts to cast the demon out.

Eventually Jesus cast it out and the disciples were confused about why they couldn’t do it themselves. Jesus said that kind had to be driven out by prayer (many versions say ‘and fasting’). Maybe if the disciples could do endless works without stumbling they would have gotten big heads. Maybe their training was sort of like my year of everyone being healed. And no matter what your equivalent of that training time is, it’s on to the next phase and we all have to step it up a notch. Pray more. Fast more. Focus more on God, His kingdom, righteousness, and sovereignty, and less on how we can pray and intervene on behalf of other people.

Romans 8:5, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”

Hope in Unanswered Prayers

Barbara Holloway left the earth early Wednesday morning. Since then I waited to post this in case I got some amazing revelation that improved the tone of the post, but that just hasn’t happened. She was a very strong and devoted believer and we know she is in her rightful place, at the “beginning” of eternity with the Lord. 


Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145A" data-link="(A)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; text-align: start; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
 of those who love him, who have been called<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145B" data-link="(B)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; text-align: start; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> according to his purpose.”

There are no more tears or regrets in heaven. There is no more sin. Nothing to dread. No hurt feelings, pain, or sorrow. She got to go where we all should be. Where we all would have been if it weren’t for the sin that Eve (first) committed in the garden. Barbara left this nomadic life where she was a stranger and didn’t fully belong for the only place that isn’t true. She made it to the end of the long race, where the Lord greeted her with His passionate joy and love.

We should all rejoice that Barbara is in heaven. Instead of coveting our neighbor’s car/job/house/husband/well-mannered children/toned body/savings account/friends (pick whatever best applies), we should covet her new life. She is home and we are not. 

But there is one problem: She didn’t want to go. 

Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-16256Y" data-link="(Y)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

On the surface, and maybe a few layers beneath that, it feels like the ultimate betrayal by the Father. He promises, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7). I assure you without any hesitation or confusion, Barbara asked to be healed and to stay on earth. She asked time after time. I’m told thousands were praying for her. She wholeheartedly believed He would heal her, until the very last agonizing breath, she believed He would answer that prayer. 

We can rejoice that she really was healed, but let’s not pretend that was the answer she was looking for. She asked to be healed on earth and He chose not to do that. He could have done it but He knew better. He alone knows what is best for you, best for me, best for Barbara. He knows what God-glorifying things will happen on earth because her time on earth ended. He knows what other pain or problems she avoided by moving to heaven. He created her, you, me, and everything on the earth. He numbers and ordains all of our days, and He makes no mistakes.

Colossians 1:15-17, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

We might want to know why He answers some prayers and not others, but we might never know. We just have to trust. That’s what faith is all about, the confidence in what we hope for, the assurance of what we cannot see (Heb 11:1). We don’t know the reasons, but we are never left alone with the answers. Jesus understands our feelings. When He saw Mary mourning over the loss of her brother, “He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). The Jews even recognized it and said, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:36). Jesus had already planned to raise Lazarus, so we don’t know if the sadness had anything to do with why He raised Lazarus from the dead, but regardless the words convey His true feelings. Jesus didn’t sin, so He wasn’t wrong in feeling enough sorrow for some combination of Mary’s loss, the earthly loss of Lazarus, and maybe  for the confusion and sadness produced by His not preventing the death, that He wept. 


Barbara was in horrendous physical anguish at the end of her life. It was torture. But she never lost the hope of the living. She trusted fully in her Savior, even though He seemed to turn His back on her. The big picture is that He helped her to end up where she should be, where it is perfect and beautiful, pain-free and carefree, instead of where she thought she should be. Praise to the Lord Almighty who knows so much better than we do! Please pray for her family’s sadness to turn to joy as they see the ways He turns Barbara’s legacy into more fruit on earth.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Praying and praying and praying and praying and praying

I remember that before I was healed a friend posted a comment on here about what a roller coaster all the cancer stuff was. I was still cautious about being so vulnerable on here so I was a little offended. I felt like she was saying I should stop getting my hopes up about about things, to just sort of live in neutral. Since then I have had seasons of wishing for this neutral myself. It is hard to be so passionate about whatever’s going on in life that when it turns out badly it’s like part of you dies a little. 

Luke 9:41-43, Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here”…

Starting a few months ago I got sort of leveled off, the way I guess I wished. It felt like God didn’t hear or care about me or what I did. After countless heartbreaks and unanswered prayers I suppose some of my faith died off. Looking back I know I sinned, but don’t know if I turned away from Him a bit and He responded with increased distance, or if it was a period of testing that I failed. But either way, because of His mercy and grace, His boundless love, we have reunited and it feels so good! Colors are more vibrant, His presence is clear and weighty, my heart…feels again. Day after day He reminds me that His mercies are new each morning, and that He knows it all. He knows what we think, what we do, what we want, what we feel…and He knows why we feel it. God is not this impersonal, strict parent who judges what we do as sub-par. He is involved in every aspect of our lives, and encourages us to be better for our own well-being and for the good of the whole body of Christ. 
…While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father…
It would not be right to serve this amazing Savior in a neutral way. We can’t be fully devoted to living for Him while protecting our hearts from disappointment. So, we must immerse ourselves in Him. Look for the good and lessons in the daily struggles. Keep getting up after we fall. Keep pursuing the kingdom and His righteousness. Love those who hate us. Pray without ceasing.
 And all were astonished at <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-25336BQ" data-link="(BQ)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the majesty of God.

A lot of people ask me to pray for their loved ones. I’m not good at it. I don’t like presenting a prayer list to the Lord, even though He is the only one who can do anything about the list. I never know exactly how to pray that is not some version of my selfish desires to manipulate or manhandle God. I think that’s some of what I did over this period of not hearing much from Him. The word says He leaves us with authority to do great things on earth, but He still has the right to make the final decisions and the Spirit blows wherever He wills. I just don’t know how to approach all of that with the faith needed for the really big stuff.
And all were astonished at the MAJESTY OF GOD.
Anyway, sometimes the Lord really opens my heart and I guess the lines of communication for praying for specific people. It’s never when or how I expect it. He has me praying now for Barbara, who many of you have prayed for over the past few years now. Her health has declined but she has always been a prayer warrior and has always believed He will heal her. I remember how fearful I was when I first started blogging, that I would believe He would heal me and then He wouldn’t. I was certain that would be the most heartbreaking way to go. And I was so sad to see how at first people prayed for everyone to be healed, then as they got sicker eventually people started praying that they’d be put out of their misery. All of these things stir my soul. We know that the Lord alone numbers our days and Barbara would not be put to shame if He chooses to wait until she’s in heaven to heal her. But I pray so deeply that she would experience the fruit of this faith while she’s on earth. That the doctors and nurses around her, who are surely counting her out, would see the cancer literally vanish. That all the health problems that have resulted from this cancer would dissipate in front of their very eyes. That her labored breathing would become smooth, the fluid in her lungs and the cancer itself would be loosed and flow right out of her as the Holy Spirit replaces the void with healthy fluids and cells. Technically, this is not possible. But, all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. He’s proved it time and again, please pray boldly that He will add this woman’s life to that score sheet.

AND ALL WILL BE ASTONISHED AT THE MAJESTY OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!