Healing Line

Healing Line

The Heart Knows

by Linda Strickland
Apr/May/Jun 2013

In St. Luke's account of the events that immediately followed the Resurrection, he tells us about an encounter involving Jesus and two of His disciples. On their way to Emmaus, the two men were walking and talking about everything that had just occurred. I can just imagine that their conversation was not a casual one, as they were most likely in a state of shock, confusion and grief. When Jesus walked up and asked them what they were discussing they didn't recognize Him. Assuming He was an uninformed visitor to Jerusalem, they began telling Him the unbelievable story of how Jesus had been arrested and then crucified. They went on to express their concerns saying, "We had hoped He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of His followers were at His tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said that His body was missing, and they saw angels who told them Jesus is alive!" (Luke 24:21–23)

They walked and talked for some time, and when evening approached they invited Jesus to stay with them. As they sat down to eat together, the scripture tells us, "As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment He disappeared! They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us while He talked with us?" (Luke 24:30–32).

Even before their eyes were opened, their hearts felt what their eyes could not see, and knew what their minds could not understand.

In Holy Scripture, references to the heart as a physical organ are few and unspecific; however, the word heart is often used to describe the dynamic forces that make us human and unique. Deuteronomy 6:5 gives us this commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." The words heart, soul and strength represent the intellect, the will, the emotions, the spirituality and the physical being — all that a person is and can do for God.

According to biblical usage, the heart is the source from which emotions flow; feelings that range from love, joy and peace to anger, envy and hate. The heart feels, remembers and desires. It has the ability to ponder, discern, seek and choose; and though typically associated with the brain, we can think with our hearts. We are also told that the heart can become sick, proud, hard and obstinate. The heart is where our relationship with God is most expressed — He looks at our hearts, listens to our hearts, and speaks to us through our hearts. It is through the eyes of our heart that we can truly see and know God.

One day I received a phone call from a man who attended a Christian Healing Ministries conference and while there had experienced healing. He told me that although he was highly educated and intelligent, he was having trouble 'wrapping his brain around' what had happened to him. He said he was calling with the hope that I could help him understand.

We talked for quite a while, but nothing I said seemed to be helpful to him. I finally asked if he would be willing to wrap his heart around what had happened. He unenthusiastically said he would try, so before we hung up I prayed with him, asking the Holy Spirit to speak truth to him. A few months later I saw him at another event and immediately knew something had changed. There was such a noticeable transformation in him that his face looked physically different. Before, he always looked serious and somber, but the man who stood before me was smiling and even looked child–like. With great excitement he told me that God had opened the eyes of his heart, and he was now certain that all that had happened to him was true. He said that his heart knew he was healed on a level that was beyond his understanding.

In his book, Healing, Francis MacNutt says, "As I experience the paradoxes of the healing ministry, I become more and more aware of the mystery involved. Those who want simple answers and absolute clarity are bound to be disappointed."

For many of us, including Jesus' disciples, the eighteen inch trip from your head to your heart can be a long journey! Throughout the Gospels we are told that during the three years that they were together, Jesus' disciples struggled with some of His teachings. As a matter of fact, in the Gospel of John we are told that many of Jesus' early disciples deserted Him because "His teachings were hard." (John 6:66) After these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them if they were going to leave Him as well, to which Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68–69)

While the faithful ones who remained with Jesus still did not understand all of the things He told them, particularly concerning His impending crucifixion and resurrection, they stayed because their hearts trusted Him and were connected to Him. This kind of acceptance without explanation requires extraordinary faith, and demands a conscious choice to follow your heart! Although their loyalties would be tested and they would make many mistakes, empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, these very same men became an unstoppable force that turned the world upside down with the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ.

While in seminary my husband had a professor who told his students that, as priests, they should try to connect with the 'minds' of people when teaching about Jesus. My husband disagreed, saying that he believes if you have the heart of a person their mind is likely to follow, but if all you have is their mind they just become religious. Even when the mind cannot understand, the heart fuels the faith to believe and trust!

Recently Francis and I were having a discussion about this kind of faith; faith that originates in one's heart and (seemingly) overrides the intellect. He told me that although he realizes many people struggle in this area, he does not. Believing what seems unbelievable, or being willing to do something simply because God asks him to, is essential in his line of work. He said, "Every time we pray, especially in the area of healing, it takes faith because what we are praying for hasn't happened yet. Since we cannot prove the supernatural, because it is invisible, we always need the gift of faith to believe the great mysteries of Christianity."

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 1:18–20 )

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Apr/May/June 2013