Many of us pray for healing every day. Some of us are healed by the medical interventions developed from God’s original creation of molecules, radiation, gravity and more. Some of us continue to suffer and pray, asking “How long must I wait, God“. And a few of us receive miraculous healings of serious conditions or death.
Just such an experience is recounted by my friend, Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Ehrlich in his book The Long Road to Eternity available on Amazon. The following is an excerpt.
In June of 1996 I attended the Annual Conference meeting of the Wyoming Annual Conference that was being held partially at the Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton and partly at the campus of the University of Scranton. Little did I know that a minister’s meeting would be the site of one of the greatest miracles of my life.
Pentecost had been several weeks before and the sermon I wrote for that Pentecost had inspired me to take up a new spiritual discipline: for the several weeks between Pentecost and Annual Conference I had been using a daily spiritual exercise aimed at helping me to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
[You can find a description of this exercise at “How You Can be Filled with the Holy Spirit.”]
In the opening session of the Annual Conference, it was tradition, after a few preliminary remarks, to stand and sing together the old Methodist hymn that John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) supposedly used in opening his annual conference meetings: “And Are We Yet Alive.” I was sitting near the back of the huge room which was the campus gymnasium. As I stood to sing, I was thinking how wonderful it was to be with my clergy brothers and sisters: the only ones who truly know how difficult it is to serve as a pastor.
As we began singing, I suddenly could see the Holy Spirit sweeping back and forth across the sea of heads in front of me. It looked like what I had seen it in my upper room at Fire Island – beautiful, golden, shimmering, and transparent except that now instead of a slow steady cloud descending and filling the room, it was washing back and forth just over everyone’s head about a foot high like a little wave.
(The Fire Island experience can be read at Her Rejection Forced My Forgiveness)
I watched it for only a few seconds when suddenly, as everyone continued to sing, the Holy Spirit swept towards me and up over my head and then it came down on me with such power that it knocked me to my seat. I sat back in my chair as the Spirit washed over me; it was the same feeling of water that I experienced when God saved my sister. But now, instead of washing through me and lifting off again and drifting away, this time the Spirit did not leave. It felt like a heavy physical presence. If you have ever been in a swimming pool, lake, or ocean with all your clothes on, you remember how your clothes sort of stick to you when you get out; that is how it felt. But instead of wet clothing, it felt like an inch deep layer of water was sloshing over my whole body.
(You can read how God saved Pastor Tim’s sister at A Miraculous Intervention by Accident)
Though I had never experienced this before I sensed immediately that this was the living water of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was speaking about in John (7:36-39):
“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said, “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him…)”
So, this was the physical presence of the living water of the Holy Spirit resting on me. But it was also a spiritual presence within creating a sense of overflowing joy. I sat enraptured, amazed at the sense of water around my body. Then I became self-conscious – everyone around me was standing and singing. Not wanting anyone to think I was ill; I stood and rejoined the singing; what else was I to do?
As the singing came to an end there was a message on the bottom of the big screen that the words to the music and the conference announcements were given on; “Tim Ehrlich go to the information table.” A call had come in for me: Annalee Bell, who I didn’t know, but whose daughter and her husband attended my Gouldsboro church, was dying from lung cancer. She was unconscious at Moses Taylor hospital. The doctors had just told the family that Annalee’s death was imminent, and they had all gathered in her room and were hoping I could come and pray with them and her before she died.
The hospital was a short distance from the Conference. Driving there, I was still within a layer of the living waters. Walked down the hall to her room, I felt a bit like a walking water balloon as the water sloshing back and forth around me with each step. Closer to the room, I started quieting laughing because I knew what was about to happen.
I entered the room and found over a dozen family members. Annalee was unconscious and her breathing was labored. She had what I have heard too many times – the “death rattle;” a sort of gurgling sound with each breath. It meant her lungs were filling with fluid and she was slowly suffocating. After making very quick customary greetings, we gathered around her bed forming a circle and held hands. I held someone’s hand with my right hand and with my left hand I held Annalee’s hand. As I began to pray, I could feel the living waters running down my arm into Annalee. I continued to hold her hand and pray until I felt the water had all emptied from me into her.
After a short time, I said goodbye to the family and left to get back to the Conference. Two hours later the conference broke for lunch and I went back to Annalee’s hospital room. Most of the crowd of family members was still there and Annalee’s breathing was much better. There was no more death rattle in her breathing, and she was stirring and appeared semi-conscious. I called her name, and she opened her eyes and looked at me.
I told her who I was and asked if she wanted me to pray for her. She nodded and again we circled up and prayed for her. There was no living water still in me, but I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and within our circle of hands as we prayed. Again, I returned to Conference.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20)
After the last session of the Conference in the late afternoon I drove back to her hospital room once again. This time I found her fully conscious, sitting up in bed eating something off a tray table and watching TV; only two family members were still in her room and they were incredulous at her condition.
The next evening, I visited after the last conference session and this time I found her about to be discharged to go home. Annalee had lung cancer; I visited her at her home a few weeks later and she was back to smoking cigarettes. She lived several more years.
Annalee’s miracle presents a curious theological question: she never attended church before or even after her miraculous recovery; she resumed smoking immediately as if spurning God’s miraculous work in her; and in general, she seemed perpetually cross and negative. So, I often wondered – why her? As far as I can tell there was no special thing about her that would make her a likely recipient of a miracle. I believe that her daughter Pat was probably the one the miracle was intended for.
Pat was a wonderful Christian. The same year that her mom almost died her husband contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease and passed within a few months, so perhaps God provided that miracle to help Pat get through the death of her husband. In any case I have put this experience in the category of: God is sometimes mysterious in His actions, and we must trust that He knows what He is doing.
Other accounts of miraculous healings can be read at:
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Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”(John 7:38)
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (Matt 5:45-46)
As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
They were all filled with awe and praised God. (Luke 7:12-15)