Mark 9:14-28:  *And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.  And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him [Jesus], were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.  And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”  And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and *they were not able.”  And he answered them, “O *faithless generation, *how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it *convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But *if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, *“If you can! *All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out * and said, “I believe; *help my unbelief!”  And when Jesus saw that *a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, *“You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”  And after crying out and *convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus *took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when he had *entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
One of the things I have noticed as we are going through this process is that I don’t worry about the outcome. [You can read the original series of posts from 2014 starting here.] At this point, it appears that God will heal me completely and that I will walk again. There have been enough worrisome things happen to us that I might fret a little about what is next or what we will do. But, instead I find a peace that passes understanding and the assurance that comes from knowing that God holds the future. He has already determined what will happen and my responsibility is to follow His leading and cooperate.
This conclusion is not based on some blinding revelation from God but, rather, on the years I have spent building a foundation of prayer, Bible study, and studying God’s character. I believe in an unchanging God who loves me unconditionally and who will work all things together for my good because I am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-30). All of the truth that I have stored up is now ready to use and God has the raw material to build this situation into the outcome that He desires. I could not imagine coming into this situation unprepared. I would be overwhelmed with questions about why bad things happen to good people, why it feels like God is punishing me, and what would have happened if I died. I will talk about all of those topics over the next days and weeks.
When you go on a vacation, you probably plan for it months in advance. A journey like I am on starts in a heartbeat. You must always be ready. I chose the scripture for the opening because it highlights that important point. Mark tells us that Jesus told the disciples that they could not cast out the unclean spirit because this kind only comes out with prayer. But, as you read, Jesus did not pray, he simply commanded it to leave. The disciples couldn’t command the spirit to leave and apparently did not think to pray. Jesus, as the Son of God, clearly had authority to simply banish the spirit. But, Jesus was also a man of prayer. This event was the day after the transfiguration. Jesus was undoubtedly up early and in prayer about his day. He was ready when he encountered the boy with the unclean spirit. The spirit came out with prayer because Jesus had gone into the situation with prayer.
My goal is to live in a state of readiness. I don’t know what I will encounter, but I know that there will be trials and temptations along the way. And, sometimes, there are experiences like I have had that are completely unforeseeable. On June 12, I never would have expected to be where I am today. Without the years I spent in prayer, Bible study, and learning about God, I never would have been ready. This has been the greatest physical challenge I have ever faced. The spiritual battle has been ferocious, there is an adversary, and for some reason he does not want me well. But, I am trusting the grace and mercy of my unchanging God to lead me through this process and bring me out stronger and better because of it.
What should you be doing? I will talk in my next post about my approach to daily Bible study and a simple outline for jump-starting your prayer life. Think of it as preparing your “life’s journey emergence suitcase.” You want it filled with prayer, Bible and a firm knowledge of who God is. Sometimes you will pull things out of it as you need them and sometimes you may be called to live out of it for a while. Either way, you want it to be ready.