We are made for stories. I’m convinced of it.
We can hear bullet point sermons and explanations of who God is and how he loves us, but until we hear someone’s story and see a life truly transformed, we don’t fully see our God.
But when we see the crazy, demon-possessed, nudist who lived in the graveyard fully sane, peaceful, speaking of what Jesus did for him, we can’t help but see something more about Jesus than before. He has authority over demons and is beyond kind to the people no one knows what to do with.
When we see the hopeless, bankrupt, shamed, bleeding woman touch Jesus’ coat, we can’t help but see a better glimpse of the compassion and power of our God.
When we see a prostitute show up at a ritzy dinner party, with a heart hungry to worship and serve, we can’t help but see Jesus’ heart for the broken and shamed. He loves the repentant sinner.
Reading Surprised by the Healer was a book I couldn’t put down. Nine brave women share their stories of who they were and how Jesus has done the work of a healer and made their scars beautiful.
Each word slices to my heart as I let it linger there, giving it room to breathe, thinking on the pain these women have experienced, the lies they have believed. the sins that have been committed against them and by them. Tears streamed down my face as I read. I couldn’t help it. There seems to be no better response to hearing such powerful stories of healing. Only Jesus could do these things.
I want to tell you all of these stories. I want to cry with you over the miracle of wholeness out of brokenness. I want to show you the Jesus behind these women.
The Jesus who makes forgiving the woman your husband ran off with and being REAL friends possible.
The Jesus who can take actual, physical abuse marks and scars and turn them into a reminder of hope.
The Jesus who doesn’t always heal us in the ways we want, but in the ways we need.
The Jesus who can turn the ugliness of cancer and turn it into a way to heal an angry, bitter heart.
The Jesus who can turn a marriage of duty into a marriage of delight.
This is our Jesus. This is our God.
What is so incredible about the Healer is that He is never taken by surprise. He is able to create a victory out of even the most broken of lives. (137)
As I read these powerful, vulnerable stories, I was reminded at how I don’t always experience Jesus like this. But I want to.
People can be exposed to Jesus but not be changed by Him. You may have spent decades sitting in church, attending spiritual retreats, and reading Christian books without encountering the dunamis [power] of the Healer. It’s not enough to have a polite relationship with Jesus Christ. His healing power comes when we allow his presence to invade our life. (115)
Read this shocking statement: God doesn’t need your help to fix your marriage (or your child or your job or your anything.) He doesn’t even need your help to heal you. He only needs one thing: your surrender. (118)
How deeply this strikes my heart. To experience Jesus this life-changing, powerful, impossible way, I have to open up my hands to whatever he would have for me. I have to surrender myself to whatever he might put in or take out. I have to trust that he knows what I need and is telling a story that is bigger than me.
How often I think I can do part and God can do part. How easily I believe the lie that I can create healing and wholeness apart from the Lord. He does it all. He doesn’t need my help. In fact, I’m pretty sure I get in the way when I am trying to help, instead of submitting my stubborn, sinful heart to him.
As I read in Joshua this week, I was struck by how many times it says it is the Lord winning the battle, the Lord who does the fighting, the Lord who triumphed. I so easily forget that it is the Lord who is the hero. He is the hero, not me. He is the one who loves me and chooses to include me in the story he’s telling. If there is anything good or triumphant about my life, it is because he did it, not me.
Not one of their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:44-45
For it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. Joshua 23:3b
This is the God we serve, the one who fights for us.
This is Jesus, who can be trusted with our stubborn, selfish hearts.
This Healer who takes our needy, broken lives and utterly transforms them.
*I HIGHLY recommend this book. Surprised by the Healer shares the stories of nine courageous women, followed by the words of authors Dr. Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow, pointing the reader back to Jesus.
I may not relate to the specifics in each woman’s story, but I cannot deny the need in my own heart to be transformed and healed by the Lord. These stories are masterfully told, sharing the depth of pain in order to demonstrate the depth of healing. But like any look into the face of sin and suffering, it is not easy to see. Even when graphic language is left out and they are tastefully told, what is shared as part of these stories can be heartbreaking to read. Yet, I think my heart needs these stories. I need to see Jesus for who he is. I caught glimpses of the character of my God from these women’s stories that I simply can’t see from my own story. While these stories are told from the perspective of women, the power of our God is certainly not limited to gender. I would recommend this to any follower of Jesus who wants to be changed by him. A wholehearted 5/5 for me.
Moody Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of “Surprised by the Healer,” in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255