Oct 4, 2009

Set Free

She sat in a chair crying. Her tank-top revealed two arms covered with large bruises. We were called after she came to a clinic looking for help. When she mentioned that she cut her wrist intentionally, the receptionist called 911.

She poured out her heart to us over the next half hour, relating her long battle against alcoholism and drug addiction. She then turned to prostitution. It was the only way she could get money for the things she needed. Her life had become one long nightmare of abuse, neglect, addiction and numerous attempts to kill herself. “I’ve tried to kill myself so many times I can’t count them anymore.”

As I walked through the clinic door, I felt the presence of God arrive. That meant He had a strategy. I was no longer the lead paramedic, but His partner; trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. I sensed it was going to be an evangelistic assignment.

There are many models of personal evangelism used in the church; some lead a new convert in saying the sinner’s prayer, some explain the 4 spiritual laws, the ‘Romans road’ or the ‘good test’. I seldom use these approaches. They seem rigid and tend to assume a great deal about the person, which may not be true.

I see every encounter as unique. I prefer to let each relationship develop naturally, without a predetermined direction or goal, unless God has given me His strategy in advance. I let the Holy Spirit guide me in the right direction, set the pace and determine the issues.

Sometimes all I do is buy my new friend a cup of coffee and interpret a dream or give them a prophetic word. With others I might answer a few questions they have about God. Sometimes it’s a prayer for healing and a hug. I never really know where an encounter will lead.

When I’m with people who don’t have a relationship with God, I try to approach the situation with only one thing in mind; I know God loves them and want to give them one positive experience with Him. It may be the only one they ever have. I believe I owe that to everyone I meet.

As I listened to her story, I tried to gauge where she was at spiritually. In my mind I ran through a list of questions; How much did she know about God? How desperate was she for change? How did she feel about Jesus? Did she have any negative church experiences? Has God been speaking to her through dreams? Did she want to be delivered of demonic oppression?

In the ambulance, I could tell she was desperate and ready for a serious discussion about God. I told her there was only one thing that could change her life permanently. She beat me to the punch line and blurted out "It's God, isn't it?". In her spirit she knew what the solution was.

Most people in this place have serious identity problems. I spoke to her about the fact that she was created in God’s image, that she wasn’t created an addict or a prostitute and that God would restore her completely to the beautiful woman of strength and virtue she was meant to be. I hammered this topic for quite a while. I find it helpful to speak positively, lovingly and authoritatively against the negative things people believe and to declare the great things God says about them. It seems to break yokes of bondage.

Before we took her inside the hospital she said she wanted to have the new life that I'd told her about – and she wanted it now. I felt it was time to lead her in a simple prayer. This wasn't a time to remind her of her sinfulness. She knew how horrible her life had been. I didn't want to make it worse. We asked Jesus to come into her life and permanently change her in every way. We asked Him to remove her craving for drugs and alcohol and for the new, eternal life that He promised everyone who follows him.

It was a very special moment I’ll never forget. She became very peaceful and relaxed as we transferred her to the emergency room bed. She couldn’t stop thanking me for helping her. I love the way God opens doors.

Will she live free of these things in the future? I can't say. That's a limitation I live with. My influence is small, my time with a patient is short, and I seldom know what will happen years from now. I'm a sower of the seed - one who doesn't know what the harvest will look like.

Our nation is in a tight spot right now in regard to caring for people like my patient. A major problem in our society is the ineffectiveness of our mental health treatment. Most patients are in a revolving – door lifestyle that never ‘cures’ their condition. All we can offer them is medication – and if they stop taking it, they’re back through the revolving door again.

Most people with severe addictions and mental illness are unable to work and have no insurance other than what the government provides. And our government is fast running out of money.

What’s the answer?

Jesus. He's always been the answer. He is the great physician.

When Jesus heals, He doesn’t ask for an insurance card or a deductible. Prescription plans aren’t needed, only divine appointments, and the great physician is always available – He never takes vacations.

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