Healing: one step or twelve steps. Does it really matter? September 23, 2011Posted by Hampton Morgan in Healing.
My, how long healing and recovery can take!
After rupturing my patellar tendon in mid-April, it took the surgeon less than 45 minutes to suture it back together, along with the four ligaments that were also torn. The initial recovery lasted seven weeks, after which the surgeon cleared me for physical therapy. During those seven weeks my leg was kept straight by a brace and I was not permitted to bend my knee at all.
Five months after the accident I am still coming to terms with how severely muscles can atrophy when they are not used. The calf and quadriceps muscles of the affected leg were visibly smaller. And when I began to use them again, they were simply not up to the task of stabilizing my knee and allowing me to walk in anything like a normal way. Physical therapy has been arduous, to say the least. And progress seems agonizing slow. Anyone watching can readily see that I do not yet walk normally, though I think that goal grows closer by the week.
All of this causes me to wonder about those stories in the Gospels and in the Acts where lame people are reported to be instantaneously and seemingly completely healed. So much so that in one of the stories Jesus says, “Take up your bed and walk.” And in the other, the healed man goes “walking and leaping and praising God.” Surely the muscles of these lame men were atrophied to the extreme. Yet they walk or run immediately after the unknown causes of their lameness are healed. As healing goes, I would call that a double healing. The instantaneously restored atrophied muscles strikes me as extraordinary as the healing of the organic causes of the lameness.
I have gone through more than 35 physical therapy sessions and am still not back to normal. Some of the clients in the women’s substance abuse facility where I work have been through dozens of AA meetings and one-on-one counseling sessions. And they still are not ready for re-entry. I minister to prison inmates who are surely not ready for a fruitful return to society even after attending nearly every religious class or service the prison offers. This leads me to conclude that healing and recovery just take time.
A few years back I listened to a teaching on healing given by Bill Johnson, a pastor in Redding, California. His message was that all of Jesus’ healings were “one-step” healings. He said that this should be our goal as well. At one point he said something like, “If it takes 12 steps [an obvious reference to AA's "Twelve Step" model], that’s ok; but your goal should be to heal, like Jesus, in one step.”
I have thought about this a great deal lately. At one point in my life I think I would have readily agreed with him because that seems to be exactly what the Bible reports Jesus as doing. But my experiences over the past several years in dealing with a variety of dysfunctions and emotional and spiritual wounds — not to mention my own long and difficult recovery from a patellar tendon rupture — cause me to wonder why an instantaneous or one-step healing is any more divine or desirable than a healing over time. Moreover, I have to wonder if some things could be healed in a single step, even by Jesus himself.
Members of the church of which we are part prayed for my healing several times. I consider their prayers to have been answered. Compared to my condition on the morning of April 16 I am very much better. And the healing continues.
One of the clients where I work came to us about two years ago, wrung out from substance abuse. Through ups and downs, fits and starts, the patience of her counselor, and the support of her peers, she is standing at the threshold of re-entry. She has been and is being healed, but not in a single step.
Does it really matter if it’s a single step? She would say no. My leg, almost completely well, would also say no.