So, this life in the Spirit is a work of God. His appearance in our lives may come in expected places, others–not so much. I had been schooled by people who believed that all signs and wonders ended at the close of the Apostolic age. In college, the people that I knew that were Pentecostal, or the new word (late 70’s) Charismatic, seemed to be kind of flaky in their walk with Jesus. They were up and down and not very credible in their approach. God was at work in my life in ways that were clear and significant. But I didn’t attribute them to the work of the Holy Spirit.
I worked at a camp in northern Ontario for four summers in the 80’s. In the the third summer, I was behind a bench in some sort of tickle contest with a camper. Sitting on the bench was someone pounding her feet into the floor, fast and hard. My hand got under her foot and my thumb got kicked backward straight into my wrist, in a direction thumbs are never supposed to go. Before I got it away from the stomping heel, my thumb had been hit a few times. My palm swelled like I was holding a baseball from a hemotoma. I couldn’t move my thumb back and forth more than a tenth of an inch, even a month later. The camp doctor said that I would need physical therapy. That wasn’t going to happen, without insurance and in transition.
I flew into Chicago and a friend met me. I spent the night catching up with her and her husband and she was to drive me to the Greyhound station the next morning. We got out of their apartment later than I was comfortable with, and I missed my bus. As we sat at the bus station, drinking coffee and killing an hour, I told Patti my thumb story, showing her how I still couldn’t move it. The next bus would head to Milwaukee and then to Madison and to my parents and would put me home about six hours later than the first bus would have.
When I got settled into my seat, headed in the wrong direction, I thought “I might as well get out my Bible. I’ve got time to spare.” Within a minute the guy behind me popped his head up and began to get into a conversation about the Bible “You reading a Bible?” I invited him to my seat, not knowing what he was up to. Here he was a Lutheran pastor from Statton Island, NY and God was doing all kinds of healings in his church related to the Holy Spirit. I began to debate him about the Holy Spirit, flipping back and forth in my Bible. He just started telling stories of how God used him to see people healed.
I stopped debating and just listened, while a debate battled in my head. “Just listen,” I told myself. And then a question crept up in the back of my brain, “Could God heal…” “Stop!” I told myself. “Don’t put God in a box, telling Him He has to heal my thumb.” All of the sudden, while the guy was talking, it was as though a knife was pulled from the joint between my thumb and first finger. I started moving my thumb back and forth, snapping my fingers and pushing down on the previously painful joint. It was healed.
Before I could even tell the guy what happened, he got up and said, “This is my stop. It was nice talking to you.” And he was gone. And I sat there with a healed thumb. Me, who thought that God doesn’t do things like that anymore. I was 25 and God had a lot more to show me about this life in the Spirit. Now He had my attention.