Years ago, I used to steal. I did it, really, for the following reasons. First, I did not have a perfect heart. Deep inside of me, I felt like people owed me. I felt like the world owed me. So whenever I stole something, I felt entirely justified. I had no guilt conscience at all! I was not a big time thief. I did not rob banks. However, once, when I was buying a bathing suit, I remember taking two bathing suits with me into the change room, and, I returned one of them, and wore the other home! I had just stolen something like a 15 dollar bathing suit. Many years later, I became very convicted, so I wrote a cheque for 150 dollars, and put it in an envelope, and sent it to the store with a letter, confessing my crime. But was it really that “big of a deal”? It was, because my heart was bothered by it. But after I sent the cheque, and the letter, my heart felt much better. But did I really “pay for the crime” by putting that money in an envelope, and sending it to the store, with my letter? No. I did not pay for the crime. I merely confessed to the crime, and attempted to make restitution by giving something that would indicate I was truly sorry for what I had done. You see, there is really nothing that can pay for a crime like that. Everything we do in order to pay for a crime is really a form of restitution. It can never repay the crime in full. Why not?
Imagine you stole 1000 dollars from a poor woman. That is all she had to pay for medical bills for her son, because he was sick. But since you stole the 1000 dollars, she is now helpless, and cannot afford to pay for those medical bills. Ten years passes, and you suddenly feel convicted that you need to “make things right,” so you double, or triple, or even quadruple the amount (because of compound interest and because of your convictions). Let’s say you even send her a cheque for 5000 dollars. Will that cheque — no matter how large it is, “make things right”? Never in a million years. It’s too late, because her son died, because she could not afford to pay those medical bills, because you stole the money!
Your theft today has impact on the life of another tomorrow. The effect may be slight, or it might be severe. You really have no way of telling to what extent your theft will matter. You just don’t know. But God knows. Yes, God knows the extent to which your theft today affects another person tomorrow. He knows exactly how it affects them. But one thing is for sure, your repayment, or your attempt at repayment, does not actually pay for the crime. It can never pay for the crime. You can never ensure that all that you do, really “makes up” for the crime. In many cases, and I would probably say in most cases, you will never be able to truly “make up” for the damage you have caused. Does this mean you should not try to somehow “repay” what you did? Well, you should. You should try to “make it right” if at all possible. But it does not mean you can ever truly repay it.
You are humbling yourself. You are being responsible. You are owning up to your responsibility when you make restitution for your wrongs. You are not actually paying what you owe because you do not have the power to bring back to life that woman’s dead son, whom you deprived, because of your theft. And there are many sins like that. There are many sins that, once you have committed them, you can never really “turn back the clock” and truly make right. You should try to make them right, but deep down, you are making restitution (an attempt at repayment), but you are not actually paying for the crime.
There is someone, however, who actually did pay for that crime, and that is Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid what was actually owed for my sin, and for your sin. At the cross, punishment was put upon him. It was just punishment. The problem is that he did not even deserve to pay it! I did, and you did! But him? He was innocent. The Bible says that “he bore the sin of many” (please read Isaiah 53:12). So as he hung there on that cross, punishment was being put upon him. It was the punishment deserved for stealing bathing suits, and every other sin that has ever been, and ever will be, committed.
I did not only steal a bathing suit. Sometimes, I stole from my employer, who was a very nice man. This man trusted me, and gave me plenty of opportunities, but when I was working at his audio-visual store many years ago, I stole some cassette tapes from him. I also stole a microphone. One day, I called him up and asked to meet with him for lunch. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and I showed him what I had stolen and returned what I still had, and gave him some money. He said, “You don’t have to do that.” I said, “No, but I have to.” So I gave him the money. It was not very much, but it was the thought that mattered. God saw it all. Again, my conscience was freed. I had confessed to my wrongdoing. It was an important gesture, but what was the real benefit? Was the real benefit for my employer? Partly. It would help him to feel blessed, and it would help to restore our relationship. It was a form of building trust. It was really more important than that. There is something very important about being trustworthy, because even God is looking at you. It was not just my former employer who was impacted. God was.
It was years later that I was diagnosed with a very terrible disease. This disease is so terrible you would never want to touch it in a million years. I had an inflamed wrist, and inflamed jaw, and inflamed foot, my entire rib cage was affected, my neck was practically paralized, I had to take shorter breaths because of the pain, my groin was inflamed, some of my vertebrae were inflamed, and other parts of my body, still, were affected. I was in excruciating pain. I could not sleep properly. For about a year I had to crawl to the washroom. What is worse, the doctors said there was no cure. They said my spine would fuse together like a bamboo pole, so I had better sleep in a very straight position, so that I was not hunched over all of my life! This was the “hope” the doctors gave me, and the “specialist” that I saw described this spinal-fusion as being “healing.” What? That did not sound like healing to me!
When I read the Bible, I found out that when Jesus healed people (and he healed many), he never made them worse but better! What a tremendous difference between man’s healing and God’s healing! I prayed to God, and I said, “God, will you help me?” God answered in a variety of very clear ways, too numerous to mention in this short booklet. But suffice to say that my voice was heard by God, and God answered me very clearly, and very powerfully. The answer did not come in a day!
God can easily heal in a split-second, but there also some important lessons to learn. And what was more important, the healing, or the lessons? As much as you may not want to hear this, I will tell you the truth: the lessons were more important. In the Bible, many people were healed by Jesus very quickly. But there was one problem. This healing did not produce sanctification or purity in the heart. When Jesus said a few hard things, all these people who were healed by him suddenly deserted him! You can read about this in John 6:66 and the larger context. They all deserted him except his 12 disciples! Why not the twelve? They knew him better than that (except Judas who was a traitor).
My situation was very critical, and I was studying at a theological school at the time, but no one there really knew what to do. The church I was with did not know what to do, either. They said, “Follow the doctors!” But the doctors said, “There is no hope. Your spine will fuse!” So what was I to do? My friend David had a better idea. He said, “Danny, I know a man who prays for people and they get better.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Yes.” So I met with him. He prayed for me, but I felt nothing happen! But the next morning, I did! The next morning, as I was reading the Bible, God spoke to me! The words were “spirit-to-spirit.” I heard them! He said he was going to pour out his mercy on me. Why?
Slowly but surely, God “pulled back the curtains” and showed me exactly what was behind this disease. I saw it all. It was very ugly. The issue was my heart. Due to my background, and because of issues that even related to my ancestors, I had some very serious heart trouble! I did not even know it! The unfolding or explaining, if you will, took time. It took more time than I would have liked, but there were not very many people helping me, and many people in the church were absolutely clueless as to the answer, so I had to learn a lot of it “the hard way” — through a lot of trial and error. Yes, when you are not being led properly, and when there are few people to help you, God even works through trial and error.
It is not that I stumbled upon the answer. God showed me the answer very clearly. But he presented it to me somewhat as a puzzle that had to be properly assembled, and understood, in light of his word (the Bible). I had to make sense of all of it. One of the most amazing things he wanted to show me was how all of the supernatural giftings worked. These had been denied in the church, and even the theological school that I had been studying at! No wonder they did not have the answers!
Slowly, God “peeled back the onion,” as it were. Layer upon layer came off, so that, finally, I was able to see the “root” of the problem. And the root was ugly! It was like an apple that had worms inside. Would you eat an apple like that? Well, my heart was gravely affected in ways that I did not know. But someone greater than all of the problems of the world combined was standing in my midst. And his name was Jesus.
Through a process of time, the Lord showed me what was in my heart, and healed my broken heart. And when he did that, the disease left, because it no longer had a firm root in me. For the disease was related to my heart. I’m not saying all diseases are, but mine certainly was. And that is why the doctors had no cure for it, because they deal with the physical and not the spiritual. I do appreciate doctors, but there are some things they cannot do. But in those areas where they do not do them, God does them.
But the question still remains, why? Why did God do all that he did? Well, do you remember what happened when I became convicted of my sin, in stealing that bathing suit? And what about the items I stole from my employer? And there were definitely “many more things” like this that I had to “make right” before the Lord, because it is ultimately the Lord whom we are serving.
Look what the Bible says.
“but you have ignored all my counsel, and wanted none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your disaster. I will mock when calamity overtakes you; when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when your disaster comes on like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come on you. Then will they call on me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me; because they hated knowledge, and didn’t choose the fear of Yahweh.” (Proverbs 1:25-29)
What is the lesson? Fear God and obey him. When he calls, do what he says. In my case, he called me to repent, and give back the money for the bathing suit I stole. He also called me to repent, and give back the items I stole, and some money, to my former employer. I listened, and in my time of need, God also listened to me. But if I had not listened? Then it is certain I would not be healed today. But I am healed today. I have been healed for over ten years, and I am completely pain-free. I can move normally. It is “all better.” Life is good. I eat anything I want. And there is no pain. But I still have to do the “normal things” like exercise and eat well. I’m not superman. I’m a normal man. But I don’t have that disease anymore! Neither do I worry about it returning, for I have addressed all of these issues, and I understand them completely. There is no fear, only joy, because God has made me well. For he really is a good God!
One day, after God had done his healing work in me, he gave me a dream. In the dream, I saw the ark of the covenant blazing with fire outside a house. Then, the ark of the covenant took off, just like a bullet, or a missile, and it circled back and came right into the house! The house exploded in flames, but, like the ark of the covenant, was not destroyed by the fire. Then, Jesus himself took me on a walk inside that house, in the midst of the blazing fire. We went from room to room, and, except for the intense, blazing, fire, each room was empty! What was Jesus showing me? Each room represented a different area of my heart that God had healed. I was now free! The fire represents God’s purifying (or sanctifying) work, which he desires to do in all of his children. Although I am not perfect, the intention of the dream was to show me that God had removed all of the issues that were allowing that disease to take hold of me. It was the fire of his covenant that lit me on fire. The word “covenant” means “promise,” and God’s promises are, “You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.