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Once upon a time, when I was not yet a teen, my family moved from the city to a new subdivision in a small fishing village. The village was quite insular and the locals didn’t take kindly to outsiders, even those who had just come from 20 miles away. But among the insular villagers were two teenage boys – identical twins – who had been adopted by an older couple in the village. Like us, the twins were “outsiders”, and maybe for that reason they had taken on the role of the village’s unofficial good-will ambassadors. Their job was to smile and wave at every car that drove by, whether or not they knew the car’s occupants.
We quickly learned that our job was to smile and wave back.
Down the ages, I can still see those two boys waving.
Paradoxically a greeting and a farewell, waving is the universal gesture for both hello and good-bye. We usually reserve our waves for people we know, but sometimes we spread them around to strangers, like candy flung from a parade float.
I was taught, as a child, to wave at trains and departing ships, whether or not I knew anyone on them. I still do it. Yes, I’m that random person standing on the overpass or the dock, waving and smiling my fool head off. That’s me; guilty as charged. Sometimes someone smiles and waves back at me, and for a second we connect without touching or even knowing each other.
I mention the waving thing because, as some of you may know, I’m currently living on a former farm in rural Nova Scotia. It has a 100-foot driveway that gets professionally plowed when it snows, but the plow driver doesn’t have sufficiently delicate equipment to plow out the mailbox at the end of the driveway. I have to clear that myself with a shovel, or the mailman won’t deliver the mail.
We got a lot of snow this winter, so I’ve been spending a lot of time at the end of the driveway fussing over the mailbox. While I’m down there, I’ve taken to waving at passing vehicles. I’m not sure how that started; maybe the drivers were waving at me first, like people in the country tend to do, but it’s now developed into a full-blown wave-a-thon. My initial shy wave-like-the-queen tight little hand quiver has blossomed into a NASCAR start-and-finish-line full-body shout-out, which rewards me not only with smiles and waves in return, but also the occasional honk.
I know none of these people who drive by, and none of them know me. And yet there we are, smiling and waving at each other like the best of friends. And for the briefest of seconds, we are.
I’m not sure what kind of biochemical reaction occurs when strangers wave to each other. Maybe on a scale of 1 to 10, it spikes briefly at 7 or higher on the pleasure scale, but there’s definitely a spike. Otherwise people wouldn’t do it. There’s probably also an electromagnetic connection, with the energy from the connecting bodies interacting through invisible waves. Of course, I’m only making this up (I’m not a science nerd), but yet I’m not entirely unconvinced that the biochemical response produced by the physical waving and smiling induces electromagnetic waves that literally reach out and invisibly touch each other. I’m not unconvinced that that is actually what is going on when I’m waving my fool arm off to strangers and they wave back.
Waving is a natural booster. (No needles required!)
When Jesus healed people’s illnesses, he reached out and touched them. Sometimes the touching was hands-on, and sometimes it was done from a distance, but it always involved the gesture of reaching out – the people who wanted healing reached out to Jesus, and Jesus responded by reaching out to them. The reaching out was a form of stylized waving, or is waving a form of stylized reaching out? I’m not sure which way it goes. It sounds like a conundrum along the lines of what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg? And like a conundrum, it’s not really meant to be solved, just mulled over.
I learned to wave at strangers long before I was born-again. It was handed down to me from my older relatives, like my wavy hair was handed down. It was inescapable. I can imagine my older relatives had learned to wave from their older relatives, just like all the strangers who wave at me likely learned to wave from their older relatives. Down the ages, we reach out in waves and briefly connect in waves, even just for a millisecond.
Sometimes that’s all it takes to heal someone’s day.
HEALING AND HEALTH
We read in scripture that when Jesus healed someone, he often warned them not to sin again. He tied their healing to forgiving their sin, and their restored health to their repentance. In other words, the illness was the physical manifestation of sin on the person’s soul.
There’s no reason to believe that this physical/spiritual connection doesn’t still exist today. Scripture clearly demonstrates that our physical health is a reflection of our spiritual health. In the same way, the state of a nation also reflects the spiritual health of its citizens. If you have a country full of people whose souls are heavy with sin, you have an unhealthy nation that’s plagued with all manner of ills, from the political to the social to the economic. The greater the collective burden of sin, the greater the nation’s problems.
Unfortunately, this spiritual fact flies in the face of today’s victim culture. The prevailing belief in the world is that other people randomly or systematically do bad things and you suffer for it. There’s no connection made between the bad things that you do and your suffering, so there’s no conception of your need to take personal responsibility to avoid present and future suffering. At the same time, paradoxically, the world has no problems connecting the dozen alcoholic drinks consumed last night with the hang-over today, or the extra sweets consumed over the Christmas holidays with tighter clothes in January. Those connections are clearly acknowledged by the world. Why, then, is there such a blind refusal to make the connection that sin leads to suffering, and that bad choices lead to a physically and emotionally unhealthy life?
When God purges sin from a soul, every degeneration goes with it, from the spiritual to the physical. When I was born-again, even the few white hairs I had at the time turned brown again for a while. I was brown-again (lol). There was a complete rejuvenation from the cellular level all the way up to the spiritual one. Such a thorough degree of healing can only come from God, through his Holy Spirit. This was the way Jesus healed during his ministry years, and this is the way he still heals supernaturally, through God’s Spirit.
There are few things sadder in life than to see people suffering because they refuse to accept the reason for their suffering. By refusing to accept the reason for their suffering, they not only prevent themselves from being healed, they ensure that their suffering will continue. They also live in fear that bad things can happen to them out of the blue at any time. Most of the world lives like this. I myself did for years, until I was finally healed through rebirth. I understand the mindset of people who live in constant fear and blame others for their problems; I just no longer share it.
As born-agains, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that our physical ills are separate from our spiritual state. The world operates under that delusion, but we shouldn’t. If we’re physically ill, we need to go to God for healing in the same way as we go to God for healing when we’re spiritually out of sorts, because the physical is the manifestation of the spiritual. In other words, our physical ailments, like our spiritual ones, also require our faith, our repentance, and God’s healing grace.
SPIRITUAL REBIRTH: Dr. God’s spiritual pain-killer
I’ve spent a lot of time around Christians over the past 20 years since my rebirth from atheism, and the one common feature I’ve noticed is how messed up most of them are. They are burdened by any number of problems, whether health problems, relationship problems, or financial problems. If they have children, their kids are (as my grandmother used to say) “holy terrors”; if they’re married, the marriage is on the rocks; if they have a house or car, they’re money pits always in need of repairs; and if they’re working, they hate their boss, their job, or both.
On the surface, though, everything is wine and roses. It’s as if Christians feel the need to project a sense that that they have it all together, even if behind the scenes they’re falling apart.
This is not the way to live your life on Earth or the way to get home to Heaven. Having no joy and no peace and stumbling from one crisis to another will lead you the opposite way of Heaven and make you very miserable along the way. I lived that kind of life as an atheist, and I see the same heaviness, joylessness, anxiety, confusion and PAIN that I felt as an unbeliever reflected in believers.
How can that be? How can people who claim to have faith in God and be followers of Jesus have lives that are so messed up and so full of pain? (more…)