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

But Terry died anyway. He was only 39.

I cried a flood tears. My heart broke for his family. But honestly—some tears 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.

Celtic GreenThe 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? And like a seed that falls into the ground, Terry’s life and death would produce something greater.

Crepuscular rays of sunlight shine onto fields in DorsetThe second picture occurred at a prayer meeting for Terry. In the vision, a dark cloud cover opened up and beams of glorious light  saturated our entire town. This image symbolizes a portal, or a “thin” place where heaven touches earth in a dramatic way. Think of the Transfiguration or Jacob’s ladder, with angels ascending and descending. But from my vantage point the image seemed far away, signaling something future for our city.

Golden royal 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.

Waterfall tree


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.

As friends and family gathered around his lifeless body to pray, a short scene materialized on the screen of my mind. In it Terry was hiking 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 glean from this fourth vision?

Dollarphotoclub_50621605That night I learned from Terry’s wife that near the end, he’d told his sons he might not 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, he instructed. 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.

6915c61f-3c97-4621-9125-afae7bd6c9b1Some 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)

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

Who can God trust?

Nonetheless, 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, as Jesus said. We’ll rise up to go when He says, “Go!” We’ll 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.

UOF Pics December 1I’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, including raising 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.

There 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 prepared for the weight of glory when it comes.

Will we be ready for all that God might do in our lifetime?


  1. Praying for miracles is probably the hardest thing for me. How do you pray? God if it be your will. Asking without waver. We have been praying for a man in our Church he needs a lung transplant. We have prayed and prayed. The miracle is that he continues to live after far beyond the time frame medicine gave him. But he continues to suffer. I had a dream about this man I saw him standing with a beam of light coming out of his chest when we were praying for him. The word dispatched came to mind and then I did not feel the need to pray any more. I still wonder what that dream means. Our small group still praying for him.

    • Debbie, I so feel for you and your church as you stand with this man. There are mysteries and will always be mysteries. But as Terry’s wife said—we prayed and prayed until he died. We even prayed after he died. But then we had to release him and leave the outcome to God. It is right to pray and ask. We don’t “have” sometimes, because we don’t ask. But ultimately it’s God’s deal and I think it spiritual maturity not failure to believe God is good, even when someone dies.

  2. rehearsal time is time well spent, not only that, but absolutely necessary to the performance of doing the “faith-walk”. a new dance! come on baby, let’s do “the faith=walk”!

    stride on out, purposeful and strong in faith. work it.

    thanks, suze

    suzee B

  3. Love getting these every Sunday morning – puts me in the right frame of mind for Sunday worship. Especially love this one. In light of Lent, Easter, and Redemption/Resurrection thoughts, I will go back and read this again and again. I feel like we take a word like death or eternity and we understand in the way that we see in a glass darkly…but there is always MORE than what we see on the surface. It seems like God has blessed you with a gift to see beneath.

    • Marilyn! Thank you for your kind comments! My experience of hearing God’s voice was truly tested over Terry’s death. I wondered at what I was seeing with the four pictures/scenes, but that’s one good reason to write things down. Sometimes it’s years later that God weaves it all together to make sense of it. But I treasure His words to me and I want to understand. I know He sees my desire to engage with Him.

  4. Wow, Susan, that post is deep. Thank you. I loved your allusion to 2 Cor. 4:17: Our light affliction is working for us a far more exceeding and “eternal weight of glory.” And I just can’t resist complimenting you again on your polished writing. Here’s my favorite sentence of yours this time: “It’s tempting to touch the glory.” That it is. And God says He will not share His glory with another. Luv & blessings, marilyn

  5. Yes, Gods way is not our way. My father died of cancer. He so wanted prayer for healing. But he tried to force Gods hand. I do not know why God does some miraculous things for some, and not for others. I have seen christians judge others for ‘lack of faith’ when prayer is not answered the way THEY WANT IT TO BE. I have been so guilty of this, to my shame, myself.(How dangerous it is to do this. How we need to learn not to judge, but to leave it with God.!)

    I had a brain tumour. A certain christian wanted me to not have an operation but to believe ‘in faith’ that God would heal me. I fact, God told me in an audible voice, that I was sick, but was not going to die, just before the doctor came and told me. So I KNEW God knew.
    I chose to trust God would heal me via a surgeon. This choice was HIS grace, as where I was spiritually at the time, it could have been really dodgy!!
    God made people, he made herbs for medicine. He gave doctors wisdom and calling. And VIA that outlet, HE healed me. Through them. I can honestly say, had I left it, and listen to the christian saying ‘just believe, I would be dead. NOT because God can’t. But because He doesn’t always. WHY? I have no idea. I knew I had his peace. I knew I might die. But His presence, for that time, was so strong, I was not afraid.

    God gives us what we NEED at the time we need it. This really sucks. We want it BEFORE! Well, I do! And knowing God knows, we have to trust, IS enough – even though we want more. And that is hard. Faith IS trust. And bad things happen. We do not know why. I still have a huge issue with this. I fail to trust. I analyze everything to work it out. But somehow, what ever is not given in this life WILL be given in the next. I do not understand why some get it and some do not. But I just have to grit my teeth, stamp my feet, shout at God, then just cry and let Him be Him.
    I have had milroy’s disease all my life. I was born with it. Had mountains of prayer. God has never healed it. I have and sometimes still do, hated God for that. But He hasn’t done it. And I do not believe He is going too. NOT because of lack of faith. But because of some reason He knows and I do not. I still have times I have to make peace with this.
    BUT I know that what ever God allows, He does it for a reason. And I would rather accept and embrace His reason than choose to ignore it. Maybe I will only be healed in heaven. Again, its a journey, I have good times with this and bad ones. BUT I am learning, as Bessie Ten Boom said ‘Stay in the centre of Gods will, it is the only place to be’ (or something like that!!) And, as in the words of Paul,” His strenght is made perfect in my weakness” – and if that is the reason, bring it on!
    Spiritual pride is something that so scares me, because I am so afraid that I have it in myself. I cry out to God to help me not to have it. And I hope in His mercy, he will teach me humility and help me keep in humility forever. Somehow, Humility is so amazing. We think it such a weak thing and pride so strong. But actually, it is the other way around. Pride is weak and brittle. Humility is glorious and strong. Because humility is allowing God to use you like clay, humility means you can be MOULDED in to HIS image. Pride molds us into our own image, but being made by our own hands, it is twisted, weak and perverse. And hard and brittle and breakable, because it comes from our limited life. Humility is strong because it comes from God, His spirit and the living water. So it is alive, whereas pride is dead.I have to say, the more I learn about who God is, the more amazing I find Him! How He turns everything on its head is soooo cool!