So you’ve got a really good mate. She’s had it tough for years now – alcoholism, depression and now anorexia. Recently things have come to a head and they’ve taken her to the Mater to stop her dying. They’re keeping her alive, but the future looks bleak. You don’t know where to turn – but at this stage, you’ll try anything.
Then you hear about this guy. He’s a preacher of some kind – but more to the point, word is that he’s also got healing powers, magic fingers. Now, you’re no mug. If it was for you, you wouldn’t give him the time of day. But what’s the alternative? We’ve tried it all. Acupuncture, counselling, Prozac, AA, brain softening and goji berries. This is all that’s left.
So you make a few calls. Turns out he’s in town this Friday – not far from the hospital. She’s not supposed to have any visitors, but there’s a few of you on the case. Sure enough, a shedload of Green and Blacks choccy for the receptionist, ciggies for security and you’re good to go.
Friday arrives and the bloke turns up as planned. Not sure what we were expecting, but to tell the truth, he’s pretty ordinary. Jeans and sweater. Bible. Bit tired round the eyes. He’d better be worth it.
Funny thing is, he looked at all of us before going over to her. Put his hand on her head, gentle, and sighed. That’s it – bring on the magic, preacher. Or some sort of encouragement – goodness knows she’s been through enough.
He opens his mouth and talks to her at last. We’re all leaning forward now, despite ourselves.
Then he speaks. ‘Friend’ he says, bold as brass, ‘your sins are forgiven’.
You could’ve heard a pin drop. What the…?
What’s he talking about – sin? She’s a skeleton. She can’t walk, she can’t talk, she won’t eat. She needs healing, comfort, a miracle. Not some bleedin’ Holy Joe bandying round the ‘F’ word.
She doesn’t need her sins forgiven. And even if she did, who does this guy think he is – God? Forgiveness of sins? Easy to say mate, easy to say. Show us the money. Or just go.
But it’s like he’s a mind- reader. Proper Derren Brown. He’s looking at you and it’s like a rabbit in the headlights.
‘What’s easier?’ he asks, ‘to say you’re healed or to forgive sins? But so you know who I am, I tell you, be healed’.
Be healed? Be healed! You close your mouth. I’ll give him something to get healed for. And, choking back the anger and disappointment, you show him the door.
Another waste of time.
But…what if, in the next few days, your friend started sitting up? And smiling. And talking. Something’s changed – a week ago she couldn’t drink a sip of water. Now she’s eating. It’s not possible – it’s a, a miracle.
And as the resentment fades, it’s replaced by something else. Something bigger – like when you stand in front of a mountain and it seems so big and you feel small and sort of funny in your stomach.
He did what he said he would. He healed her. That makes him pretty special. Smart, too. But what if he was right about the other stuff as well?
He said what she needed most, wasn’t the physical stuff at all. It was forgiveness for sins. And it was easier to get rid of the sickness than the sin – after all, you can see someone being healed, but you can see inside them. Now, any right thinking person would call him a nutter. Except that he wasn’t. And he did what he said – wouldn’t take money or anything.
So it got me thinking. I’ve had my fair share of bad luck – family problems and dodgy back – gives me no end of grief. If you’d asked me a week ago what I needed, I’d have said fix the pain, no question. But now.. Well, put it like this, if this Jesus bloke was here now and offered me the choice – forgiveness for all the stuff I’ve ever done bad, wiping it all clean or a new body… I reckon I’d take the forgiveness.
Call me mad, but seems to me there’s some things even the docs can’t fix.