In my previous article, I wrote how Jesus wants to bring healing to our inner hurts and when the Lord does this He often takes us back to the point when we were first hurt. Jesus did this for Peter through a charcoal fire and the Lord did it for me through three pelicans.
In the summer of 2018 I was at a church senior camp, enjoying all the fun a “senior” can get away with – kayaking, swimming, climbing a climbing wall and practicing karate, as well as tormenting people with a water gun!
In the midst of this, I had no idea what God had in mind to complete my healing. Although I had experienced significant healing in the 90’s, there was more to be done.
One day at camp the movie “I Can Only Imagine” was going to be shown. It’s a fantastic must-see movie about the life of Bart Miller and what led to his writing the song. I had not seen it yet, so was looking forward to spending the afternoon watching it. We watched the first half, and then the power went out, so the plan was to watch the rest after the evening service. I had really enjoyed the first half and was looking forward to seeing the rest of it.
Before the service, a few of us were on the beach, and surprisingly there were groups of pelicans floating around, which was an unusual occurrence on that part of the lake. Then I noticed three pelicans in a row close together way out in the lake – it was a significant memory trigger for me. I looked up to God – what was He saying? This was a heavenly heads up for what was coming!
To explain, I need to go back in time. Many years ago when our kids were young we did a road trip to visit my parents near Lake of the Woods. We were camping at a nearby campground and spending time with them and other family members during the day. There had been tensions in our relationships, and I knew it might be a difficult visit.
During a conversation after dinner, my mom started to say inflammatory things about a member of the family who was not there, and as no-one was challenging her (that was not something done lightly) and some were joining in, it continued to grow. Doing my best to show respect to my mom, I said I knew those things were not true, and I said what in fact was true in the situations being referred to.
At that point an ice wall went up and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. My rank in the family tree dropped somewhere below a hobbit hole (and never changed).
We soon left to return to our campground, my wife got our kids off to bed and I needed a swim – I was vibrating – I needed to unwind. I knew I had crossed the floor and could not come back. The sun was just going down, I had the beach to myself, and I floated around, feeling the stress levels drop blow the red line.
There was a fog slowly drifting out into the lake from a nearby stream. I was enjoying this bucolic scene when I saw three slow-moving forms slowly pass me by. I was transfixed by this strange sight until they cleared the fog and continued out into the lake – three pelicans swimming slowly in a row. Wow – I felt like God had provided all this for me! It was His way of saying, “relax, it’s okay – I have your back.”
Back to camp, summer of 2018, I was looking to God for what He was saying to me with the “sign of the pelicans.” So, the evening service took place, and then we stayed for the second half of the movie. As the movie played, I sank lower and lower in my seat, and felt sick – I felt like I was being used for target practice. I wanted to leave but I could not.
In the movie, Bart slowly rebuilds his relationship with his abusive father. While his father dies of cancer, Bart is by his side – a great testament to God’s redemptive grace! But while I watched, I was hearing condemnation – what about you, you loser – you never got the chance to melt that ice wall – you don’t have a redemptive story – you’re a failure.
The enemy was tormenting me until the movie was done. It finished, and I was an emotional wreck. My friend sitting next to me asked what was wrong and I reacted saying that that was the worst movie I had ever seen! He was concerned that I should not be left alone – but it was almost midnight, so I went back to my lakeside cabin.
It was a full moon over the lake and there was a soft warm breeze. I walked out on the dock and collapsed at the end of it and cried my guts out. I couldn’t remember feeling so empty and crushed. For years I had tried to be the good son, but lived walking on egg shells with my parents. I felt in my adult years that I never belonged in the family, was always the outsider, even after my parents passed away. I had forgiven them and done everything I felt that God wanted me to do, but I felt like I had failed.
Later I realized that during this time of pouring out to God on the dock, God was allowing the old wound to be opened up. God was telling me to look inside. I was crying and saying, “I can’t”; I was terrified that the old wound would be still infected with poison. The thought that after doing all I could and it still not being good enough was too much to bear. I was finished. I staggered off to my cabin.
As I got ready for bed I remember thinking I would never get to sleep (sleep often did not come easily even on a good day.) I crawled into bed, closed my eyes, and the next thing I knew the sun was up! After what had been a great night’s sleep, I got up and I remember feeling clean on the inside. I was still confused but I felt free of the pain of my past. Satan tested Jesus and could find nothing in Him. I was tested and because of God’s grace in me the enemy attack failed to find anything in me. I’m free! I’m clean!
At breakfast, a couple mentioned that it was a great movie last night, and my confusing response was, “It was the worst best movie I ever saw!” I shared the gist of my story with them. I realized as I shared that I was not just talking to them but prophesying to myself. A comparison came to me as I was sharing that my friend, a hard core runner could relate to.
While running you badly hurt your knee with unbearable pain. You get looked after by a great doctor who brings your knee 100% better. The doctor tells you you’re good to go, you’re free! Off come all splints and crutches. But you are so afraid because of the memory of your injury that you don’t accept your healing. You want to hobble home, put your splint on and take no chances. But the doctor’s response to this unbelief is…”RUN!!!”
As I shared this with this couple, I found I was yelling “RUN” to myself – You’re free of the fear of the past – Run free!!
I left camp with a much clearer picture of what had happened to me – I was free! When I got home, I asked God for a word to confirm what had happened. A couple of days later God put John 8:36 into my heart. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
I’m now over sixty and it’s been a very long road to freedom. Our infirmities can cripple us for a lifetime but they don’t have to. Let Jesus heal you, rise up and walk, then run! You’re free!
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