Spiritual Neuropathy – Barbara Parker


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Did you ever observe something so beautiful, unusual or amazing that you wished you had a camera handy to capture the moment? I have—so many times I’ve missed the perfect shot. But on this morning the camera was right there in my hand at the exact moment when my infant son discovered his hand for the first time, and his look of utter amazement was caught on film. Eventually, he found all of his fingers—and his toes too—and sticking them in his mouth; playing with them; or later, learning to count them became a fun game.

Now, many years later, I stared at my own fingers and toes, wondering how they could look so absolutely normal when the feeling in them had been so decimated by chemotherapy. I’d been warned that peripheral neuropathy was a side effect that I should expect and, at first, it didn’t seem too bad—it just felt kind of numb and tingly like a shot a Novocain wearing off after a dental appointment; weird but not really painful. But it was progressive, and as the weeks of treatment wore on the neuropathy grew worse in both my hands and my feet…

…It’s so hard to write—the numbness in my fingers, my hand—the shakiness—I’m surprised it’s readable—every word is sloppy and about to go out of the lines like a child just learning to print. And my feet! Just walking across a smooth, soft carpet feels like I’m walking on icy, sharp rocks or glass; even just sitting with my feet up, they are numb and yet cold at the same time. How is that possible?

And I realized once again the truth of the promise of Romans 8:28 that, in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose for I realized that once again the LORD had a spiritual parallel he wanted me to think about. Neuropathy results from damage to the nerves—it’s like a short circuit in the body’s wiring, and the ability of the affected parts to receive accurate information is distorted—it’s all about perception. Just because my extremities felt cold didn’t alter the fact that it was a hot, summer day and the temperature was well into the nineties; just because my fingers could barely feel the pen I held didn’t mean it wasn’t there; and just because my feet felt like I was moving across needles and pins didn’t change the fact that the floor was smooth and free of any such irritants. Our perceptions of God can be just as distorted.

The worst misconceptions are those of the unbeliever—those who see God as an angry and vindictive deity; those who believe that Jesus was just a good man, a great teacher or even a prophet, but definitely not the Son of God; those who either believe there is no God at all or that we are all little gods; or, perhaps the most tragic, those who believe in God but who see themselves as so bad that they refuse his love, thinking that they cannot be forgiven. The unbeliever typifies the words of Isaiah, as referenced by the Apostle Paul when, in Rome, he said that the Holy Spirit had spoken truthfully to their forefathers when he said, “Go to this people and say, ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” (Acts 28:26-27)

But believers get it wrong too. Even Jesus’ disciples, who one would think should have had it all together since they got to sit right there at his feet and learn from the Master, didn’t always get it. Even after they observed the miracle of the feeding of four thousand people, they turned right around and misunderstood Jesus’ warning to them about the yeast (or dangerous teachings) of the Pharisees, thinking he was chastising them for not bringing more than one loaf of bread onto the boat they were traveling in. To me, Jesus’ response seemed disappointed but patient. Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:17-21) Nowadays, some of us, like the Pharisees of old, attach rules to our religion and require those who wish to be a part of our denomination to adhere to them. Some of us become so dogmatic about our pet doctrines that all relationship with others who don’t believe the same way is cut off. Many of us believe that the work of the Holy Spirit was confined to the book of Acts and miss out on all the he has for us today. And, sadly, many of us simply do not recognize who we are in Christ—we do not see ourselves as royalty, as sons and daughters of the Most High King. We suffer from spiritual neuropathy.

Fortunately, while the physical reality of peripheral neuropathy is often a chronic malady that may never go away completely, there is a definite cure for the spiritual version. Jesus himself promised it before he went to the cross as he comforted his disciples saying, “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:26-27) So I, like the Apostle Paul, declare that I do not come with eloquence or superior wisdom; or with wise and persuasive words. My only message is the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ, for I rest in the confidence of knowing him and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I too speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…[and] we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned… [for] we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2: 7-10, 12-14,16b)

The things of the Spirit of God—the ability to hear his voice clearly, to sense his presence, to experience dreams and visions, to witness and experience miracles and signs and wonders—are meant to be a part of the everyday, normal Christian life. So my prayer is, “Sharpen my spiritual senses Lord, and let me have the mind of Christ. Please do not allow my spirit to ever become numb to your presence and accept a distorted view of who you are. Protect me from spiritual neuropathy.”


About Barbara Parker

Barbara Parker, the founder of Standing in Faith Ministries, endeavors to serve others by sharing the faith lessons God has taught her through the everyday trials of life. She is a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; and she worked for many years as a registered nurse and as a real estate broker. A survivor of breast cancer and several other major illnesses, Barbara holds the unshakable belief that God is big enough for any problem that life throws at you. It is this faith that enabled her when she worked as a hospice nurse, providing comfort to the dying and their loved ones. It is this faith that she writes and speaks about. Barbara graduated from the Los Angeles County Hospital School of Nursing and holds a BS in Health Science (Summa Cum Laude) from Chapman University, a Certificate in Fundraising from Loyola Marymount University, and a Certificate in Grant Writing from the Grantsmanship Center of Los Angeles. A Christian since childhood, she pretty-much grew up in church and has served in a variety of ministry roles including music, teaching, administration and counseling. She completed several post-graduate-level courses in Theology, trained as a church counselor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and completed a variety of schools and workshops with Aslan’s Place and other ministries. Barbara is a prayer minister endorsed by Aslan’s Place, where she often participates as a team member in ministry across the USA and abroad. She participates in a network of home churches, worshiping and developing relationships in a small group setting. Barbara is the author/editor/publisher of Pug Parables, I’m Still Standing and Richard’s Story which are available at Barbara's Store. She also has a DVD series, Unraveling the Mystery of Dream Interpretation, available at Aslan's Place. Barbara speaks to groups of any size, sharing her testimony and teaching others how to stand in faith. She is passionate about the fact that Christians can overcome every difficult circumstance through an intimate relationship with God in all three of his persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Barbara can be reached through her website www.standinginfaith.org