Healing Touch

there were storms during that week, bundles of
anger released onto the earth, showers of mercy,
hail balls dropping like pearls onto the ocean.

the earth cried for mercy, creation longing for redemption

i was partially struck by the natural disasters occurring
across the globe (e.g. the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia).

in the spirit of the season, i was off to spend time
with loved ones to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

one of my housemates at the time had kindly offered to drop me
at the airport on Friday evening, after both of our long days at work.

he was on his way to a Christmas party with his connect group from church,
and as we were driving, i asked him about this connect group.

what followed was an extended conversation about “sozo”.

sozo, as he explained, is a method of healing and praying.

there can be agreements we have made in the past,
where we believe lies about ourselves and God.

sozo, he tells me, addresses the healing needed in these places,
these parts of ourselves that are wounded –
where strongholds need to be broken in Jesus’ name.

in the moment, while he was speaking, this made sense to me;
the terms and concepts he referred to were not foreign to me.

my grandparents and parents were a part of healing ministries while i was growing up.
there were extended afternoons where the adults spent time praying in the big living room
while the kids ran around the Adelaide hillside, exploring the paddocks, chasing the cows,
playing games of hide-and-seek, pretending the dog was a horse, etc.

i remember even having my own healing session, where the adults prayed for me.

most of the time, i was in my childhood years of craving adventures.

other times, i embraced my child-like curiosity and asked questions,
wanting to know about spirits and prayer and warfare,
wanting to understand the spiritual dimension to the world i was exploring.

my parents had told me about strongholds and the power of Jesus’ name,
and i knew that there were spiritual gifts of prophesy and visions and speaking in tongues.

so i was open and receptive when my new housemate started speaking about the work of the Spirit;
how God had shown him places in his past where he had believed lies about his relationship
with his earthly father, and therefore had been projecting these onto our heavenly Father.

as he said, these are strongholds that need to be broken:

“you can pray and ask the Spirit to show you those areas where healing is needed,
and forgive those people who have hurt you, and ask the Spirit to show you
the truth in the Word, and believe that, instead of the lies and false agreements”

a couple days after our conversation in the car, i was reminded
of the sozo conversation while praying for the new year.

i was struck by how the Lord kept bringing me back to healing

so i googled sozo and the first thing that appeared was the video 
my housemate watched with his connect group from Bethel Redding Church.

in this video they explain the concept more,
how it is “an individual time of prayer and deliverance
where you look at the wounds in your life and the lies you believe,
the things that have “hindered you from walking fully”
in the Lord, and in his call and purpose on your life.

the spiritualised nature of this sozo
raises a question and need for discernment,
but what i like is that they speak of the Spirit as ACTIVE
and are committed to the kind of ministry described in the book of Acts,
where there is miracles and intercession and prayer and healings
in the early church, all of which are still possible today.

i also like the importance on listening
and paying attention to the Lord.

however, i was cautious, as the comments thread
raised flags about this sozo practice as demonic.

as with anything spiritual,
videos or comments threads
aren’t places of answer.

i needed to turn
to the Word:

sozo is a Greek word
mentioned 110 times
in the new testament

the definition is
made whole”

but in some translations,
the translators chose “saved”
or in other circumstances “healed”
or in other cases “delivered”

when Jesus uses the word:

“he’s handing you a complete package;
that there’s more to salvation,
there’s more to healing, and
there’s more to deliverance”

this interpretation is that sozo is an opportunity, a gift from the Lord
“to have the complete package of being made whole”
that there isn’t seperate components to healing or salvation or deliverance

this perspective is quite amazing really, because surely it is no coincidence
that healing and salvation and deliverance are used interchangeably in the bible.

might this tell us something about Jesus’ mission and our Father’s heart?

might this reveal to us where wholeness is found?

at the time of learning this
a stubborn spirit in me arose

“i don’t need healing”

yet, i realise my foolishness, my pride,
as Jesus’ himself reminds us that it is not the
healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

if we believe ourselves to be healthy and whole,
living without brokenness, then we are living a lie.

in an age of wellness and self-manifested happiness,
there is nothing more dangerous than ignoring the truth:
the world we live in is wrought with suffering, evil, and fear.

you will note some of this post
was written four years ago
but am i only sharing and sense-making
the true depths of “sozo” now.

that is because my spirit is
less righteous and stubborn.

i have broken down by grief and suffering,
acutely aware of the need for wholeness,
the necessity of soul-level healing to live truly free
spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

i’ll be the first now
to raise my hand for healing.

when we all are confronted
by the depths of this world
and the depths of ourselves:

there is no place to turn.

we cannot look inside ourselves.
we cannot look to others for healing.

our souls ache
for answers and healing
and hope and truth.

so here i am, finally willing
and open to embrace “sozo’

it is my word for this year:

of living each day with a full heart
of directing energy meaningfully
of spending energy resourcefully
of breathing beauty in the busy
of intentional loving, listening, leading
of ego-free mystery-humbled thinking
of spirit-filled conversations
of investing deeply but wisely
of inviting therapy into trauma
of embracing wounds as gifts
of deliverance from chains
of redemptive relationships
of soul-breathing and breakthrough
of sacred suffering
of scars sealed with light
of wholeness and holiness

of sozo.

when i was first introduced to this concept four years ago
my reaction was to consider to similar movements of healings, miracles, revival.

as a stubborn soul, i’d rather err on the side of discernment and testing
then blindly accept false teaching or heresy.

walking with friends through sickness and chronic illnesses, i couldn’t help but wrestle:
was street healings real? why would God heal randoms on the street and not my friends?
was people falling over during worship really giving glory to God?

we know God is able to perform wonders and miracles and signs;
we know God is able to do what is impossible to man.

in Acts believers receive the power of God through the gift of the Spirit (1:8)
with this gift comes: speaking in tongues (2:4), prophesy, visions, dreams (2:17-18),
devotion to teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer (2:42), awe, signs and wonders (2:43),
sacrifice, joy and generosity (2:45-46), performing miracles (3:6-10), giving testimony (4:33),
wisdom (6:3,10), preaching the good news (8:12), good works and acts of charity (9:36)

filled with the Spirit, believers boldly:
preached in the name of Jesus (3:6,16; 8:12; 9:27)
and lived out the calling to be witnesses (1:8).

yet what we also see in Acts is a deep commitment of the believers to the Word:
examining the Scriptures to see if these things were so (17:11)
being fervent in Spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus (18:25)
some boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God (19:8)

the work of the Spirit is not merely an outward display,
but an internal refinement and expression of truth.

while we may see external works
(healings, miracles and revivals)
we live by faith not by sight
so we can be assured that
even when we do not see
the work of the Spirit, that
in fact, that is when
the Spirit is at work in us.

we may not see the internal work
but that is where the true healing,
miraculous, soul-reviving operation occurs

the outwards working of this internal working
is the expression of our faith,
as we walk in the blessing of a the Way:
turning from wickedness (3:26)
turning from darkness to light (26:18)
turning to God (26:20)

when we turn, we are transformed
when we turn, we live in the light, in the truth, in the way
when we turn, we receive forgiveness, the gospel of grace
when we turn, we are sanctified by faith

ultimately we walk differently:
we walk in love (eph. 5:2)
we walk as children of light (5:18)
we walk as wise (5:15)
we walk in a manner worthy of our calling (4:1-3):

in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love,
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.

so we are to walk with wisdom, filled with the Spirit.

it felt necessary to emphasise this internal vs external expression of the work of God:
in a year where the ‘Asbury” revival/university/movement has broken out, drawing attention to spiritual awakening
highlighting the need for authentic worship and adoration and glory to be given to God

as an outsider to this Ashbury movement, it appears to have been
a beautiful expression of fellowship, unity, worship.

my only reason for drawing attention to this movement, is to remind us:
that just because we may not be in the room where God is working
when it comes to these “revivals” like Ashbury
does not mean we are missing out on what God is doing

God works powerfully in us and around us
God is not limited by borders or bodies or time

whether revival is here or there,
whether healing is here or there,
God is here and now and forever

He is eternal and sozo, his plan for healing and salvation, is for all

we live in an age
where it is more and more crucial
to understand and discern:

all that claims to be true
all that claims to heal and deliver
all that claims to redeem and revive
all the claims to be of God.

what claims to be
may very well be
of the Spirit and of God.

but in equal measure
what claims to be
may very well be
distorted and deceived
by the flesh and world.

proceed with caution
is my phrase for this age.

it is okay if you
cannot proclaim
“it is well”
with your soul
when you are
digesting the darkness
and turning over
the un-truths of this age.

it is okay to question
and deconstruct
what claims to be true
when you are confronted
by brokenness and ego.

there is an abundance of
“cult celebrity christians”
“social media saved souls”

when we are called
to be Jesus’ hands and feet
we are called
to enter into this world
to be vessels of truth, hope, love.

we are called to speak life
to speak against false teaching
to stand against the powers
and principalities that rule this world.

this is a generation that needs sozo
the soul deliverance, healing, salvation.

this is an age for entering into the absence:
the absence of noise, the presence of stillness.

earlier this year i finished 1984
and was struck at the depiction of power.

there is no big-brother christian-god
waiting to lord over us our
sin, wrongdoing, “thought-crimes”.

there is no un-writing of history,
no un-doing of purpose,
no exploitation of power.

to be known and loved by God,
is to be filled by his Spirit.

to be called
to be gifted
to be equipped.

to be a life-breathed being,
called to wholeness in Him.

there is nothing that can seperate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

there is no condemnation
for those who are in Christ.

we have no need to:

fear questions,
fear brokenness,
fear natural disaster,
fear evil and power,
fear wrongdoing and sin,
fear doubt and denial.

we are under
the law of grace
the ministry of the Spirit;
not the ministry
of condemnation and death.
(read 2 corinthians 3)

if we hold onto
the stronghold of fear,
if we allow the chains
of the unknown
to grip us,
if we allow uncertainty
to control us,
we will be enslaved.

we need to embrace
the egdes and tensions,
the extensions and denials of self,
that true salvation,
deliverance, and
healing requires.

to be whole,
we must acknowledge,
the holes.

the flaws in self,
the flaws in system.

and greater still:
the fullness of Spirit

what i wrestled with after learning about sozo and looking into the miraculous healings
shared by ministries across the world, e.g. Heidi Baker in Mozambique, Katie Davis in Tanzania,
is why we don’t see more healings, more miracles, more deliverance.

i wrestled with why prayers were not being answered, when i would pray with conviction and faith
that the Lord would heal a friend from sickness, or deliver them from certain circumstances.

in Acts, we see the laying of hands as an expression of such prayer.

we see Jesus’ healing touch in the gospels, where a woman knew how great his power was,
his power to heal, that she went with a fingerprint of faith to his robe to receive healing.

where is such power today?
where is deliverance from darkness?
where is freedom for the oppressed?

at the time, i spoke to my mama bear about this. she told me how healing can occur
in many different ways and that there are different types of healings (physical, emotional, spiritual).

another question i had was regarding the street healing approach of bethel ministries.
at the time i was so concerned with false prophets, misinterpreting the Word.

i did not have the assurance in faith that i have now;
i had been afraid would be led astray,
i had not trusted that my Great Shepherd knows
how to lead and keep a watch over his sheep.

i was forever trapped in this fear;
because my whole world was being tipped upside down.

i was being exposed to articles and comments and threads
that would derail me, discourage me, deter me.

all these ‘household name’ christians i had grown up with and admired
were being accused of heresy, of being false prophets.

it was confronting, confusing.
and the author of confusion? the enemy.

don’t get me wrong; heresy is real, deception is real,
scripture can be misquoted and taken out of context,
doctrinal beliefs can be distorted, and theology can be untested.

the risk with sozo lies in the limits of theological imagination:

many theologians will argue that divine imagination is a pillar of faith,
it enables us to begin to comprehend the invisible God,
it dwells between the divine realm and the physical realm,

but it is necessary
to the cultivate and discipline
the imagination.

some argue the prime task of theology is
the imaginative construction of the doctrine of God.

the caution we need here is to ensure our own
imaginative constructions don’t contradict the Word of God.

in order to be led by the Spirit, we need to be able to
discern the Spirit, and the work of God in the world.

we need to be able to connect scripture with culture.

when i wrestled with this,
i was questioning my own discernment.
(discernment was my word of the year for last year)

if there was in fact a doctrinal deception or distortion occurring,
why was i unable to see it? was i blind in my faith?

i started to fear whether i was even filled with the Spirit,
when i did not feel equipped to discern other spirits.

discernment is a gift of the Spirit

we are to be discerning
we cannot rely on the discernment of others
we must test all we encounter against the word of God
we must weigh up what we are presented with.

i am at the point in my faith journey now
where i trust that God will guide me to truth.

i need to trust that He will provide me with everything i need
to discern, to live, to be transformed, to teach, to write, to heal, etc.

rather than living in fear,
i am called to live by faith.

on this journey of sozo
i jumped into another rabbit hole:

‘if someone doesn’t know the Lord,
how can they receive healing?’

but when i asked such a question,
i was placing a human limitation onto God,

our knowledge of God
is not correlated to
his knowledge of us.

sometimes healing can come first,
or another sign or wonder,
that leads to believing in Jesus.

wholeness is found in Him
wholeness is not limited
to those who have found Him

He finds us – wherever we are,
whether we are whole or broken.

He knows us – whether or not we know him,
and whether or not we believe or deny Him.

He is mighty to save
his healing power knows no bounds

who are we to place limits of what can be redeemed?

if we believe nothing can be done to change our past or hurts
let us proclaim this truth, that Jesus can redeem
a persons past, and heal the hurt and trauma.

when Jesus performed miracles
there was always a redemption of belief
that accompanied any healing

we see this healing touch
woven throughout Mark:

“Jesus heals a deaf man” (7:31-37)
“Jesus heals the sick in Gennesaret” (6:53-56)
“Jesus heals a woman and jabirus’s daughter” (5:21-43)
“Jesus heals a man with a demon” (5:1-20)
“Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit” (1:21-28)
“Jesus heals many” (29-34)
“Jesus cleanses a leper” (1:40-45)
“Jesus heals a paralytic” (2:1-11)

there is a clear connection
between healing and health:
when we are whole, we are well.

Jesus cares about the state of our souls
there is power in his touch, in his teaching.

there is hope for our souls,
for he is the anchor for our souls.

it is well with our souls:
when we are physically, emotionally, spiritually well;
when we are secured in him who offers us “sozo”
healing, deliverance and salvation for our soul.

when we are in him,
abiding and remaining
in his steadfast love;
our souls are anchored
grounded, secured:

h e a l e d

in medical terms,
healing often looks like returning a patient
to a previous state and condition of health.

but in spiritual terms,
healing is the condition of being whole;
it is not about treating symptom or cause
but about transforming the whole.

my healing journey this year
has involved lots of tears and fears;
it has required bringing wounds into the light,
that they may be ministered to.

when Jesus touches our life,
by his power and strength there is courage:
to face the hurts, the darkness,
to speak to therapists,
to give vulnerability to voice.

as i read the book of John with my partner,
we observed how Jesus shows compassion in his acts of healing
he shows no discrepancy, no bias.

one moment, he is healing a woman
with multiple ‘husbands’/partners,
and the next moment, the son of an ‘official’

he shows no prejudice
to their past, their present

he can redeem
past, present, future

will you allow him to redeem you?


end note: the start of this blog is content circa 2019, hence the references to natural disasters globally at the time

end end note: well done for reaching the end of this rambling,
i haven’t posted much lately so this is a bit of a catch-all contemplation!

Respond from the Heart