Have you ever been aboard a ship on a rough sea?
Have you ever been aboard a ship on a rough sea? If so you will know how it feels to be staggering about with little control of your movements and your co-ordination rather unreliable. That is a sensation from which I suffered very frequently for many years, though on terra firma and not at sea. I hasten to add that it did not result from an over-indulgence in alcohol either! For 18 years I had multiple sclerosis. I was one of the lucky ones, the form which attacked me was slow moving and allowed me to continue to live a relatively normal life for much of that time.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system so can affect any part of the body at any time. Mostly, on a daily basis, I suffered from lack of co-ordination; dizzy spells of varying intensity; occasional slurring and muddling of speech; cramps and spasms.
To these were added various other symptoms whenever I suffered an exacerbation. Gradually the effects of the disease became more marked and impinged more and more on my life and functions.
Over a period of time the strength in my arms waned and I could no longer write on a blackboard so was obliged to use an overhead projector instead. I could no longer risk going off on walks with the dog alone because I might find myself devoid of all energy and strength and unable to get home unaided. On one occasion, a year before I was healed, I lost my sight for eight weeks. That was the most terrifying experience I've ever had.
One of the hardest things to live with was the uncertainty that such a disease brings. No-one could tell me how the disease would progress and I never knew from day to day how it would affect me in either the short or long term. Symptoms, such as the blindness, might go away again, they might remain or become worse.
The letter of James quoted at the beginning of the service, reminds us that when we are sick we should call the elders of the church to pray for us and anoint us in the name of the Lord. He tells us that the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. In my need I turned to my church family for this help.
The prayer of Christian friends and family, together with receiving the laying on of hands, and my own faith in God's love and mercy, kept me going through some very dark and uncertain times. I was fortunate in that I never felt that I had to face this awful disease alone. Besides my family and friends I also had the comfort and support of our Lord's presence and love.
Mother Julian of Norwich wrote these words:
As long as Christ could suffer - he did suffer and he sorrowed for us. And now that he is risen and can suffer no more - he suffers with us.
Again and again I would find myself struggling to stay on my feet, and to get through a working day. I received healing time and again, through the laying on of hands, anointing and through prayer. Although over all those years I was not cured of the disease as I longed to be, I know beyond any shadow of doubt that our Lord did heal me, that each time healing was asked for it was received.
I am certain that whenever we pray to for healing, whether for ourselves or another, that prayer is answered. It isn't always noticeable physically, but there is healing. Our Lord knows what we need most and recognises something that we often forget. We are body, mind and spirit. He deals with what most needs to be healed. Our physical bodies, so important to us, are in fact the least important of all.
I know that over those years he healed me in many ways which opened the door for the final healing of the disease. He healed me of sin; of bad habits; of hang-ups; of resentments and past hurts; and of my failure to forgive my father.
He taught me in my darkest times of how completely I could rely on him and of how much he loved me. Finally, in his time, and in accordance with his purpose, when I finally accepted his call to the ordained ministry and bent my will in obedience to his, he healed me completely of Multiple Sclerosis.
This happened at a Healing weekend in Jan 1992 led by Peter Hancock UK Warden OSL. I struggled to be there but I did in God's strength. The next day ALL traces of the MS had disappeared.
Then followed my Ordination a long journey, selection panels etc.
Since then I have been Curate N. Devon, set up 3 Chapters for the OSL over those years from 1992 - 2003. Then I moved to become vicar of Burton in Lonsdale & Thornton in Lonsdale and finally Mission Priest in Bingley, and now OSL UK warden.
Praise the Lord…