The Injury

Many moons ago, I played semi-professional basketball. One practice the other team stole the ball and had a fast break. I was trailing the play and the guy who stole the ball missed the layup, so I leaped to grab the rebound. The guy running alongside me, who was guarding me slipped and as I was coming down with the ball, he slid beneath me knocking my legs out from under me. I came crashing down on my right knee. Immediately I knew something was wrong, but I kept playing. In less than ten minutes, my knee swelled up to the size of a softball and I was finished practicing for the night. I limped to the train station and though I usually walked the kilometer home, that night I took a taxi. By morning, the knee was even more swollen and I could not bend it at all. I was not just finished playing for the night, but for years.

My wife drove me to the hospital where I had surgery. After nine days (this was in 1985), I was released. The knee ultimately healed to the point that I could walk and run normally, but my undistinguished basketball career was finished. However, there was one lingering problem. Once healed, whenever I kneeled, or my right knee bore any weight, there was an excruciating pain. It felt like someone poked a pin in it.

The Search for Healing

The result was I stopped kneeling. As a Baptist, I believed God could heal and had witnessed four or five miraculous healings in my life, but that was for others, not me. I stopped praying on my knees. Even when kneeling with a pillow under my knee, the pain was unbearable. Whenever I had to do something on the floor, like play with my boys, I’d sit down carefully to ensure my leg felt no pressure. For eight years I endured this. For eight years, I asked God to heal me so that I could pray on my knees.

In late 1991, we arrived back home to Milwaukee for our bi-annual visit with friends and our church. The first day back, I heard on the radio that a well-known “healer” was having a “Healing Revival” at the Arena downtown. Later that day I saw a billboard with the same message. I thought, “If they can rent out the stadium, this guy must be for real.” So, without telling anyone, I snuck off to attend the meeting. (After all, good Baptists don’t go to such meetings.)

Six, seven thousand people were there, many like me, seeking healing. After an invigorating sermon on the power of God to heal, the speaker invited those with pain and problems to come forward for healing. I went forward. Two men who had been trained by the speaker walked up to me and offered to pray for me. They were sincere, kind gentlemen. I shared the story of my knee. They expressed empathy and clearly had a desire to please God and see me healed.

They laid out the steps I needed in faith and in practice to be healed. One of those steps was to get down on my knees on the hardwood floor. I told the men I could not do that. They disagreed saying, “If you want to be healed, you need to show submission to God and get down on your knees.” So, I obeyed. The pain was immediate and gut wrenching. Immediately they prayed. I wanted to vomit. When they finished praying I rolled off my knee and sat on the floor. They asked, “How do you feel?” Shamefully, due to my lack of healing replied, “I felt nothing.”

The leader of the two then emphatically stated, “We must pray again then! We’ll pray till God heals!” I got back on my knees and tried to listen to these well-intentioned men pray, but the pain was too great. I bore the excruciating pain for maybe a minute and returned to a sitting position. They stopped praying and with great hope asked, “Are you well?” To which I lied, “Yes, the pain has stopped.” And in an effort to seem halfway honest, I whispered under my breath, “When I got off my knee.” They rejoiced. I got up and left.

It was clear to me these men had a formula for healing, a formula which may work for them, but it did not work for me.

Then in February 1993, my friend Lawrence told me God spoke to him to pray for my knee. He clearly believed God wanted to heal my knee. Like many before him, I welcomed him to pray. I stood as he prayed. I felt nothing, so I did not test it. And to be honest, I had zero faith my knee could be healed. So many had already prayed. When Lawrence finished praying, I went straight home. It was nice of him to pray, but I knew my knee was beyond healing.

The next morning, my wife discovered a smell coming from beneath the kitchen sink. I carefully sat down as I always did to avoid my knee touching the floor, and then leaned in searching for the smell. I spotted something deep in the back and in reaching for it my knee touched the floor. I grimaced as I always did when my knee touched the floor, but then I realized that was reflex – there was no pain! I forgot about the smell and kneeled. NO PAIN! My knee WAS healed! And I’ve not had any pain since!

Formula or Faith?

God warns us, See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority [1].

If we take time to study God, we see throughout history God does not use formulas and methodologies. He leads armies, wins battles, speaks with people, heals people—everything He does, He does in a variety of ways. He could have given us “4 Steps to Being Healed,” but He didn’t. Rather, He yearns for us to come to Him with child-like faith with each and every problem, no matter its size, to solve it. He works His miracles His way, so that only He may receive the glory.

For years I was a captive of hollow strategies and human traditions. I said my faith was in God, prayed, and trusted in God, but looking back my faith was as much in the strategies and methodologies I had learned as it was in God. Methodologies and strategies are simply tools, manmade tools. Tools are good. Tools are helpful. But whether it be a hundred-dollar bill, a car, or a rake, or Gospel tract, each is just a tool.

Jesus warns us, You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings… [2]

We have formulas for many things. In the church we have formulas for baptism, communion, ordination. Evangelistically we have The Four Spiritual Laws, The Bridge Illustration. In discipling others there’s the “Experiencing God” method, Design for Discipleship. In missions we have DMM (Disciple Making Movements) and CPMs (Church Planting Movements), even BAM and tentmaking. You get the picture. These are just a few tools created by men to assist us in honoring God.

Yet, then we argue with one another over which method/tool is better, as if these excellent tools are the solution! Tools are good. But when we look to the tool to solve our problem, we are then making the tool an idol, replacing God. In 1 Corinthians 8, we are reminded of the two things that we know. One, We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know
as they ought to know
[3] And two, We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” [4].

Discipleship, training, as Jesus both shows and tells us, is a relationship.

DISCIPLESHIP IS A RELATIONSHIP

It is not a course. It is not a study of books. And it definitely is not a degree from a bible college or seminary. Again, these tools are helpful and good. But they are not the solution to knowing God. They are not the answer to walking with God. God does not have a one-solution fits all strategy for discipleship, healing, evangelism, preaching, business, church planting, etcetera. His one solution that fits all strategy is simply this: JESUS. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well [5].

[1] Colossians 2:8-10 RSV
[2] John 5:39-41 RSV
[3] 1 Corinthians 8:1&2 (my underline)
[4] 1 Corinthians 8:4 (my underline)
[5] John 14:7 NIV

 

 

PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for other 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.