Terry had serious throat cancer. He pastored a small church in rural Montana. The community of people who loved him prayed hard and fasted long. We encouraged him in every way we knew how. One by one, medical answers came up empty. Still, we sought God’s healing power.

But Terry died anyway. He was only 39.

I cried a flood tears. My heart ached for his family. But some tears also revealed my disappointment with God. Why would He take such a wonderful man? We needed Terry here. God is able to heal—but in this case, He didn’t. I asked God for understanding. Over the course of Terry’s decline I saw four dramatic symbolic pictures.

In the wake of Terry’s death, God made sense of them.

Grounding is taking up our crossThe morning after his diagnosis, I saw a clear image of an ornate cross. Terry was willing to carry his cross with all the bodily suffering and spiritual shaking it brought.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 Grounding for future gloryThe second picture occurred at a prayer meeting for Terry. In the vision, a dark cloud cover split open, beaming glorious light over our entire town. This image could symbolize heaven touching earth in a dramatic way. Think of the Transfiguration or Jacob’s ladder, with angels ascending and descending. But the image was far away, signaling something future for our city.

Grounding gives the foundation for our crownThe third image came as we met at Terry’s house for what would be the last time. I saw a giant jeweled crown swirling in the sky. It floated down and landed around a beautiful green tree. His heavenly reward was ready to encompass his earthly life.

I sensed his time was up, but said nothing. At that stage, faith ran high for his healing, and any doubters were frowned upon. He died two weeks later.

Grounding prepares the next generation to go furtherAs friends and family gathered around his lifeless body to pray, a short scene materialized on the screen of my mind. In it Terry hiked across a desert, making footprints where no one had been for a long time—if ever. I could only see his cowboy boots pressing into the sand, step after step. He slowed down and then stopped. All at once, his body floated out of his boots like a spirit. Obviously he had died. But was there more to understand?

That night, I learned that right after that last prayer meeting Terry told his sons he probably wouldn’t make it. Still, he challenged them: Don’t lose heart! Somewhere, somehow, and sometime soon, God’s going to release healing in answer to prayer. Keep going, keep asking, and believe it’s possible!

After that, the fourth picture made sense. Terry’s faith and our efforts to save his life had pushed us all into new territory—footprints in a wilderness. Deserts represent seasons of searching, fasting, wandering and contending. Faith is tested, and we learn to overcome. Though Terry’s earthly time had ended, his boots remained to be filled by another.

Without grounding we are not ready for glorySome thought we didn’t pray enough or have sufficient faith, but I felt we did everything possible. Perhaps we weren’t ready for such a miracle. Some in our group discerned the danger of spiritual pride lurking in our midst. If Terry had been healed, would we have thought it was about us?

“Look what we did!”

Power always has a ready foothold for pride.

Dag Hammarskjold wrote, “There is a pride of faith, more unforgiveable and dangerous than the pride of the intellect. It reveals a split personality in which faith is ‘observed’ and appraised, thus negating that unity born of a dying-unto-self, which is the definition of faith.” (From his book, Markings)

Grounding brings unityI marveled at the dedication of all who interceded on Terry’s behalf. There’s no tone of judgment here. However, when signs. miracles, and wonders start to happen, it’s a weighty thing. It’s tempting to touch the glory. 

Who can God trust?

Yet God is developing His people to handle supernatural power, along with other spiritual gifts. Jesus said we’d do “greater things.” In preparation for that, we must be exercised in hearing God’s voice. That way, we will only do what the Father is doing. We’ll rise up to go when He says, “Go!” and accept His timing when He says, “Wait.” Otherwise, it’s all too easy to set up our own agendas, making God in our image and lighting our own fires. There is an enormous difference.

Grounding of faith, brings healingI’ve experienced miraculous healing in my own body twice. My husband has seen profound miracles in Africa—the kind where the blind see and the deaf hear. Iris Ministries in Mozambique has seen all sorts of signs and wonders, even raising people from the dead. Many believe we are on the threshold of unprecedented times—the turning point of Daniel 7:22 where the Kingdom of God manifests on earth.

Grounding of crosses to bearThere will be crosses to bear, and some like Terry will get their crowns early. But an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in greater measure is coming. In the meantime, we must keep walking in the desert, pressing forward, praying for the sick, and asking for miracles—even when nothing seems to happen. 

By rehearsing for the fulfillment, we are in fact being grounded for the weight of glory when it comes. Will we be ready for all that God might do in our lifetime?


  1. Thank you for this Susan. It brought me around to where I want to be… I just moved into a house I’ve been working on for years that has recently distracted me. But having recently come back from an outreach to Iranians in March I’m able to return in my heart to that feeling after reading your post. This is the most important thing in my life — that I will be an active participant with God. Pray for me, that my vision will form and keep my intention here (in the feeling of this post) where I want it to be.

    • Tricia…so good to hear. Living “present” or in other words, being present right where God has you, attentive to the Spirit, often starts with intentionality but continues like breathing though there are always surprises alone the way. I think we live in a highly distracting culture and it’s easy to “lose the plot” of Kingdom things. Check in with God often…ask Him what He’s thinking…practice listening prayer.

  2. Thank you for this well-written walk down memory lane and refocusing of my thoughts. I read this yesterday before Deputy Mason’s funeral and was encouraged to remember our journey, as well as, the hope set before us. “I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, Wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:13-14

    • Crystal, yes, we must look for the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Lynn Kinnaman :

    Always powerful… Thank you Susan