HOW MY FAMILY AND I EXPERIENCED JEHOVAH RAPHA
After working in Texas for a year where we experienced Jehovah Rapha to some extent, Jim discovered the church was in arrears the equivalent of his salary. We knew we had a decision to make. God had given us this promise:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”—Jeremiah 29:11-14
Maybe this was the time God would lead us back home, but where was home? It could be Oklahoma or Kansas. In obedience to God in doing the right thing for the church, Jim resigned. While I was typing his resignation, he received a phone call from an Oklahoma church to come in view of a call for pastor. After turning in the resignation, the church called back and withdrew its offer—due to lack of experience. Nevertheless, we could hear our Shepherd calling us further north.
In faith, we made arrangements to move, holding to another promise:
“So do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,’ declares the Lord. “I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile . . . I am with you and will save you,” declares the Lord . . . . “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.”–Jeremiah 30:10-11, 17
Two weeks later, Jim received a phone call from Kansas, asking him to lead his sister and brother-in-law’s church services for three Sundays and two Wednesday evenings. It was an interim for the interim pastor position. At first, I thought I should stay behind with the children, but the Lord showed me Proverbs 24:27, “[Put first things first.] Prepare your work outside, and get it ready for yourself in the field, and afterward build your house and establish a home” (Amplified).
My parents took Kurt and Francy and settled them in school while one-year-old Matthew stayed with us. After the month in Kansas, we traveled back to Texas to move.
Jehovah Rapha and our baby
That night, Matthew grew very irritable, pulled at his ears, and cried constantly. Jim and I prayed for him as we sat in the porch swing. I continued to rock him, and through my own tears, kept repeating the Word out loud, “By Your stripes, Lord Jesus, Matthew has been healed; You redeemed him from the curse of the law because You were made a curse for him on that tree.”
After what seemed forever, which was only about ten minutes, Matthew suddenly settled down and was his happy self again. Jehovah Rapha had arrived. The same thing had happened with Matthew when he was about one week old. He was fussy, but I didn’t know why. I prayed for him all night long. Later, when examined by a doctor, he said, “This child’s ears burst at one time.” They had healed; he could always hear and never had any trouble with them again.
After moving to Kansas where Jim’s sister and family lived, Jim found a construction job. We still could not say, “We know where we have come from and where we are going.” We continued to seek the Lord’s guidance. When we thought maybe we should go into business and open a Christian bookstore, I was invited to a Successful Living home party where Christian books were the product. Wow! I thought. I’d never heard of this before.
Successful Living’s mission was to take the bookstore to the people, since only ten percent of Christians take the initiative to seek out a bookstore. I signed up as an independent dealer/ distributor, got my kit that contained a few books and put them on the shelf.
Jehovah Rapha and my friend Jack
Jumping ahead a few years when I was in full swing as a book distributor, Jack D. called me every once in awhile. I special ordered any book he desired. Paralyzed from his neck down with multiple sclerosis, he called me because I delivered to his house. Jack’s friends plastered Scriptures over every inch of ceiling and walls. He trusted God would raise him from his bed with complete healing.
Jack hired young people to care for him around the clock. Many read his inspirational books to him. His front door was left open so they could come and go unhindered. He had a couple televisions stolen from him, but Jack kept forgiving and influencing them for good. He was a joy to be around and his faith in God was unshakable. Friends picked him up for church, taking pains to see he got out of the house to worship His God.
I, for one, agreed with Jack, that God was going to heal him. I discovered a great book by Reginald Cherry, M.D., The Bible Cure. I just knew there would be something in there that would help Jack, if “I would just have enough faith.” Surprisingly to me, Jack said, “You know what spoke to me in that book? It was the chapter about ‘Facing the Ultimate Cure—Death and Beyond.’”
Within two months, Jack was dead. He died of cancer. I learned to try to look at the big picture, remembering God’s thoughts and ways are higher than mine, and that we must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God—in a balanced approach. Jack left behind a legacy of faith and love to his unsaved daughters who had to take down every Scripture from the ceiling and walls. To those who worked for him, and to all who knew him—God would give the increase.
Jehovah Rapha and our son
From this experience with Jack, I learned to pray about how to pray when confronted with a friend’s problem. At times, I’d forget, but I never felt it was wrong to believe for the miracle, just to keep in mind that God has His individualized pathway of healing for that person. My philosophy was tested when our son, Kurt, called six months after he married. “Mom, doctors say my aortic valve needs to be replaced.” I didn’t take him seriously; he was always joking about everything. But, he wasn’t this time.
I wanted to ask God for a creative divine miracle, but I stopped, and asked “Lord, how do you want me to pray for Kurt?”
Immediately, God spoke to my heart, if being able to replace an aortic valve with a new human valve is not a creative, divine miracle, I don’t know what one is.
Nine years later, Kurt called with the same message, “Mom, the doctor says my aortic valve needs to be replaced again; it’s worn out.”
“Lord, how do I pray for Kurt this time?” The reply: If a mechanical valve that’s been perfected in the last nine years is not a miracle, I don’t know what one is.
Kurt and his wife Davi had just moved to a city with a great heart hospital two miles from their home in Arkansas. Kurt came through surgery fine, but afterwards, his lungs did not readily operate. He was still on the ventilator three days after surgery. I called friends for backup prayer. At 4:00 a.m., I was telling Kurt about the prayer of authority my friend Jo prayed for him with me over the telephone—repeating her words, “We speak to these lungs, in the name of Jesus, to the fluid to be cleared; to the heart to heal.”
At just that moment, three nurses ran into the room, “What’s going on?” “Nothing, we were just praying,” I said.
“Then, why don’t you pray again.”
I continued to pray, claiming Matthew 18:19 that where two or three are gathered in His name, Jesus is in the midst, and repeating the prayer I’d just prayed.
The head nurse said, “Jehovah Rapha is here,” and then she admitted, “The monitor sounded. We are going to do an X-ray, and see what’s going on.” Another nurse told us about having her hearing restored through a new surgery. We had a praise meeting right there.
The X-ray revealed a wire may have been pulled out of place. The next morning, Kurt was off the ventilator and breathing on his own. Whether or not the wire had anything to do with the fluid, we don’t know, but Jehovah-Rapha was definitely there.
Jehovah Rapha and my past
Backtracking a few years when Kurt was about twelve, Francy ten and Matthew five, their little brother Hank was born—right in the middle of income tax season while I was working for a CPA. He called me two weeks after the birth offering to pay for my sitter if I would come back to work. I could hardly stand it mentally and physically, but I did. After April 15, I was hired to stay on. One day, the accountant called me in to his office and said, “Ann, you are an air-head; one day you do great work, the next make mistakes. I’ve recommended you as secretary for my church.”
What did he expect from a new mother getting no sleep? Who does he think he is, pushing me off to his church so he can get rid of me? I was devastated.
About the same time, Kurt and Francy made comments to me, “Earth to mom! Earth to mom!”
I felt absolutely worthless, like I could never do anything right. Why did I have to be made this way? That’s when my eyes caught the title of a book on the shelf, Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer. She had read Tim LaHaye’s book, Spirit Controlled Temperament, about the four temperaments, which originated with Hippocrates four-hundred years before Christ was born.
Florence felt the author secretly knew her and her husband, and decided to do more research. The result is her book that describes the strengths and weaknesses of: The Sanguine (The Talker), the Melancholy (The Thinker), the Phlegmatic (The Watcher), and the Choleric (The Doer).
When I read that the Phlegmatic had her head in the clouds much of the time, I knew that was me. But, I also saw that one fourth of the population had to be just like me, and that this personality also had strengths. Slowly, I began to see that Jesus personified a perfect balance of all the temperaments, and that should be my goal, to trust Him to make my weaknesses His strengths, for He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Understanding the personalities not only helped build self-esteem, (or god-esteem), but helped me to understand my husband and children. We bought a camper so we could teach the kids while enjoying togetherness outdoors. When Francy discovered she scored just like me, she cried and said, “Mom, I don’t want to be like you!”
“Then don’t be content to be a watcher, get involved in your life,” I told her, and she did. She picked up a viola at a friend’s house, could play it, took private lessons, and was chosen for the Wichita Youth Symphony. She ran cross country in middle school and high school track meets and now competes several times a year in marathons—after having two sons of her own.
Even then, I did not realize how much more I needed to change to find healing from my past in order to help my marriage survive and to be the support my children would need in the years to come.
Jehovah Rapha, our marriage and life
After about fifteen years of marriage and having learned to accentuate the positive rather than the negative, our marriage was still like a roller coaster ride. Things would go along just great, and then all of a sudden, the peace was sabotaged. Since first seeking the Lord together, marital intimacy seemed out of reach, again and again.
For three great years, I was secretary of that accountant’s church; then, finally eased into the inspirational book business/ministry, holding book parties and placing and servicing family reading centers in grocery stores. I was always on the look-out for a great selling book to put on my racks, when a whole case arrived on my doorstep that I hadn’t ordered—Love is a Choice, written by Christian psychologists, Hemflet, Minirith and Meier. The ordering distributor knew something I didn’t, so I began to order it. It sold out every time.
Jim discovered the book after our worst and almost fatal argument. We were at the bottom of a downward spiral. He went out to my storeroom filled with books on all four walls, picked up this book and read it through. “Ann, I want you to read this book, and we are going to discuss it chapter by chapter.”
“But, I’ve tried. I can’t get into it, and I don’t see how it applies to me, anyway!”
I was to learn it all applied to me; it applied to both of us in similar, yet different ways. Codependency is a word used traditionally to describe children of alcoholics who had not received nurturing and love in childhood. When they entered a marriage relationship, they were unable to give what they had not received. Their hearts were like half-filled love tanks, straining to borrow from their partner to replace what was missing. The couple sought happiness in the other person, not realizing it was something only God could fulfill. Alcoholism is not the only culprit; co-dependency, originating from abuse of children, can be passive in nature—from any lack of nurturing.
During an all-night “discussion,” my Choleric leader husband, with the Lord’s help, opened my eyes to be able to face my past, and to see how it was affecting me. I never talked. I didn’t know how to talk, struggling to express myself in any circumstance. On the other hand, Jim found it very easy to find words. At any confrontation I would leave, never facing anything head-on. Another book helped me see I was just as “guilty”—of anger. I was just holding it in, seeking to punish Jim by not talking to him. But, why did I have so much trouble with this?
My father never talked. At a family reunion late in his life, he spoke to the whole extended family, sharing how he, his twin brother and four other siblings were brought up to “be seen and not heard.” In a chapter he wrote when he was eighty-two years old, and published in a compilation book, His Forever: Stories of Real People Finding Jesus, he wrote, “‘You’ve got to smell like a man!’ These are some of the few words my father ever spoke to me.”
And, so the cycle went. My parents were very loving. I was so blessed to have them as my parents; they taught me about God. Their priority was teaching children in Vacation Bible Schools, at summer camps, and in our church’s Girl’s Auxiliary. Mother taught the Bible to her junior high class faithfully. They overcame many things they lacked and both became published authors, yet both lacked nurturing themselves as children. Mother had thirty nannies after her mother died of Scarlet Fever. When I asked my father about a character in the novel he wrote, he admitted, “She never heard the words, I love you; that was me.”
Before learning all this from my father, I realized I had a self-esteem problem and that I didn’t like myself, and until I did, no one else would either. I made a list of things I had been too timid to do, or not allowed to do as a child. One by one, I did them with my children; simple things like going to the circus. I’d been too timid to raise my hand in third grade when asked if there was someone who had not yet performed a duty that would allow the class to go to the circus. I was the only one who couldn’t go.
Facing these things changed my life. Helping my father with his book and getting it published helped build our relationship. Since then, I’ve been able to relate to my Heavenly Father.
Slowly, inch by inch, I’m still learning to confront in love, to be a helpmate rather than just a pleaser, [learned from another book: Pleasers] to face every situation, to talk to my husband and with my children and grandchildren. I’ve learned God created us (and instituted marriage), not to make us happy (only God can do that), but to make us holy. Healing is a life-long journey; life should be a healing journey leading to absolute wholeness.
 James Stuart Bell and Jeanette Gardner Littleton, His Forever: Stories of Real People Finding Jesus (Avon Massachusetts: Adams Media, 2006) pg. 175.