Saturday, December 12, 2009

God hates recliners

A couple of interesting stories came to my attention lately

Tillmon Webb of South Carolina injured his knee and chose a very novel way of dealing with it – he sat down in his recliner and waited for God to heal him.  According to his wife: “He read his Bible daily, he spent his full focus on God and he was literally waiting and praying for a Job miracle. If anybody knows the Bible and knows Job, he really and fully believed that God was going to heal him just like he did Job, because he said he couldn't think of a better testimony to go out and to tell people.”  So then, wearing nothing but a blanket, the 33-year-old didn't move from that recliner for the next eight months.  He insisted that his wife not call for help but after 8 months she did finally call an ambulance.  Greenwood County authorities say they found Tillmon covered with sores, and that he appeared to weigh about 800 pounds. They say he was stuck to his chair, and they had to saw the recliner apart. They cut a large hole around the front door to get him out.  He died at the hospital.  You can read the entire story here.

For 3 months Estelle Walker holed herself and her 5 children up in a cabin and during this time she made no effort to find food for any of them.  Instead of looking for a job or even asking for help she instead chose to wait on God to provide food for them. By the time police were at last summoned by neighbours, investigators found the children so malnourished they had difficulty talking.  You can read the full story here

In 2000 a young man noticed a bump on his neck.  Instead of going to the doctor he instead chose to spend the next eight years of his life in various prayer lines, prayer circles and spent a substantial amount of money on various “healing resources” from international Word of Faith ministries while the bump kept getting larger.  That young man was me.  Luckily my story had a happier ending than the previous two because I eventually got out of the prayer line and into the doctors office and it turned out I did it in the nick of time – by that time the tumor had started to squeeze my arteries and I was in immanent danger of a stroke.  Here is a picture taken around my 30th birthday which finally frightened me enough to take action:


 See as much as I would like to point at these people and call them names, I can’t because I am guilty of the same thing they are.  We all depended on a miracle when we didn’t need a miracle.  Tillmon Webb just had a torn ACL, hardly a lethal injury!  Estelle Walker was a qualified teacher who could easily have earned money for food and failing that she could have asked friends, family, her ex husband or anyone at one of the two churches within walking distance of the cabin for help.  All I had to do was just go see a doctor.  So why didn’t we?  Why the steadfast search for a miracle when the miracle clearly wasn’t coming – or needed?  I don't know about the other two but I'm normally a reasonably intelligent person.  How could I be so monumentally stupid then?  We were all holding the idiot ball, no point in pretending otherwise.  Whatever else we may have been we certainly acted like gullible retards.  However I do feel that the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement should shoulder a share of the blame here.  I don’t know about Mr Webb and Mrs Walker, but I know that the churches I grew up in, the books I read and the televangelists I watched all taught that we should expect the continual miraculous working of God in our lives.  More damning however is the common Pentecostal/Charismatic teaching that you should ignore circumstances, push past your common sense and close your eyes to the warning signs and just keep on believing for your miraculous breakthrough no matter how unlikely it looks.  To do anything else is to lack faith and if you don’t have enough faith you can forget about your miracle.  If you had spent any time in the Charismatic movement, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Practical solutions are bad, faith in unnecessarily miracles are good. 

What stings the most is that this wasn’t just bad thinking, it was all bad theology too.  This is a religious idea with no backing in the Bible.  Yes, the Bible does say to trust in God but yet if you read the Bible you will see that the people in it still planted crops for food and still built walls and watchtowers to protect their cities (something I blogged about previously).  I bet you if you sat me or Tillmon or Estelle down and asked us about why evil exists we would have all explained the importance of free will and making the right decisions to you.  Likewise if you asked us about salvation we would have told you how important it is to make the right decisions because what you do has great impact on your life.  Yet when we had to make a choice to make a much needed impact on our lives we chose to do nothing instead.  How did we miss something so obvious?

Taking responsibility for your actions and their consequences isn’t just common sense, it’s Biblical too.  In the parable of the talents, Jesus doesn’t praise the servant who hid his talent, He praised the one who took what he had and worked with it.  The servant who hid his money didn’t get rewarded with a miraculous increase, no only those who earned an increase received it.  Then (as Tim recently reminded me) there is arguably one of the best Biblical examples of taking responsibility – Nehemiah.  Nehemiah didn’t receive an angelic visitation, he didn’t hear the voice of God and no prophet came to give him a word.  Instead he saw that there was something that needed doing, he realized he was able to do it and he then went ahead and did it.  When things started going wrong he didn’t quit either.  He didn’t try to back out by claiming that what he was doing must not be the will of God somehow.  Instead he got creative and he worked harder and he succeeded.  Now that is an example worth following!

Lack of critical thinking skills, gullibility and bad theology are bad enough when they are on their own, when you combine them you set the stage for disaster.  Moral of the story, God hates recliners.  That personal responsibility you’ve heard so much about?  Take some.  You want something to happen, get off your lazy ass and do your best to make it happen.  Alternatively, you could just sit back and wait for God to take responsibility for something you should be taking responsibility for yourself.   I have to warn you though, it will be a really really really long wait!


RandomSue said...

Wow! Well said. I have been challenged on this lately myself. Not waiting for a miracle really but just waiting for life to happen rather than making life for me and my family happen (with in reason). Anyway, this was a good read. I have known too many people that should have got off their butts and taken action rather than waiting for something that would never come.

Plucky said...

Reminds me of my mom GRHSS . . . She sat in her recliner for quite awhile before she died . . .

Good post Eugene . . .

Eugene said...

Thanks guys!

Sue - Good luck with that! I know that's something I still struggle with personally and you are right, its not even just a religious thing. Just sitting around waiting for that lucky break to happen or hoping for a lotto win instead of finding a job is no different.

Tim - Your mom's story is a really sad one especially because - just like mine and these others - it was all so incredibly unnecessary!!

I wish I knew what carries the most blame here. Is it the innate brokenness inside of people that makes us look for easy, magical answers instead of facing the scary things that will need hard work and effort? Or is it that broken part of certain denominations that teach that magical solutions are not only real and freely available to all but that it's in fact an insult to God to seek anything else? Or is it just the worst overlap ever?

digapigmy said...

blame it on the rain
yeah yeah

GumbyTheCat said...

Merry Christmas Eugene!