• Jo

Chapter 1: Out of the ordinary

It was an ordinary Sunday evening. The long hot days of summer had passed, and autumn was creeping in with its crisp mornings and a nip in the air at night. The light, bright days were gone; darker nights had taken over.

It was an ordinary Sunday evening and here I was in a new church wondering what had happened in the past two weeks. Busy trying to process why I had lost my job, church and community so abruptly had led me to this place. Mind racing and heart aching I had come to place to connect with God in some way and find some inner stability. I wasn’t looking for answers; I was seeking God because I knew that I was spiralling down into the familiar pit of anxiety and depression. That place where all of life looks dark and bleak and despite clawing at the sides of the pit there is no easy way out. It was not a place I wanted to slide into, but right now all my efforts to stay out were failing.

This sort of charismatic church was familiar to me. The repetitive songs went over my head and the sermon totally bypassed me, but there was comfort in knowing how it all played out. As I mentally prepared myself for the final song and a quick exit, the minister talked about how God had given him the gift of healing and this evening there was the opportunity to be prayed for. His words jolted me out of the overly familiar routine.

Why not I thought? I have nothing to lose and it can do no harm.

I stood in the queue gazing around the building with its stone walls and stained glass windows at odds with the purple lighting and upbeat on trend worship band, swarming with students. It was so different to the kind of church I had made home for the past 18 months. A small traditional church, where, as someone in my late 40s, I was the youngster. As I waited at the back of the line I was heard a voice. Startled I turned around. No one was there. But I had distinctly heard the words, “your physical symptoms are caused by a broken heart”. I knew it was God speaking to me but the words were so clear that it felt they were spoken by someone standing next to me.

There have been times in my life when I doubted God was speaking to me, but this was one of those times that was loud and clear. Not an audible voice, but an inner one as I had heard before at significant moments in my life. It was definitely God, but the words didn't make sense. “Your physical symptoms are caused by a broken heart.”

What did that mean?

Physically I was trying to recover from twelve years of living with chronic fatigue syndrome (a.k.a M.E.) and my recent emotional breakdown had left me reeling.

I reached the front of the prayer line and a young woman called Sophie beckoned me over. Still puzzling over the words, I internally debated whether to tell her. We didn’t know each other. What did I have to lose? Her reply took me by surprise. She explained that she had been in the middle of a concert and the lead singer had paused, pointed at her and said, “you have broken heart and God is going to heal it now”. And he did.

Reassured that I wasn't completely crazy she began to pray for my broken heart. There was no magical instantaneous healing like in Sophie’s personal story but something began to change especially when she randomly asked God for the “fear of not being believed” to be broken off me. At those words I inwardly froze. She had prayed for the thing that had troubled me the most but hadn’t mentioned to her: my story not being taken seriously by others.

It was as if in a moment God had heard and validated what I had been through. It was God saying he had seen and cared, even when I was dismissed by people.

I had entered the church on an ordinary Sunday evening and left with hope that healing was possible but no way of knowing how. It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried before to get healed, sorted or fixed. I had been on this journey of healing for over a decade and I thought I had made progress. But here was new revelation where God was inviting me on a treasure hunt to find answers.


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