Tacos, Margaritas & Torn Biceps
- a history or background created for a fictional character in a motion picture or television program.
My newest partner and I have been working together for about six months. He’s ten years younger than me, single and not affiliated with any particular religion that I know of. Although he believes in God, he’s never been taught any specific beliefs about who God is or what He’s like. My partner has led a colorful life, working different jobs, including some connection to the pornography industry, spending time in jail for petty crimes and drifting aimlessly through life, until six years ago when he became an EMT.The uniform seems to have done something to reform his self-image. He used to see himself as a trouble-maker but today, he sees himself as a contributor to the good of society. And that’s a leap for a guy who has a massive problem with an orphan spirit and a deeply rooted sense of rejection and inadequacy. My partner is adopted. His parents did the best they could to raise him, but I’m guessing they didn’t have the tools to give him the right identity. So God arranged for me to be his mentor for a while. And that’s kinda what my life has been like lately — trying to teach a forty-something year old guy about who God made him to be.
The Orphan Spirit
If you’re not familiar with the term orphan spirit, I’ll give you a brief description of what it is and why it’s such a problem. A few years ago, I had a dream where Bill And Benny Johnson discerned that the orphan spirit was the greatest problem in the church today. Like all evil spirits, the orphan spirit works in our lives through lies and deception. An evil spirit has the ability to influence you only to the degree that you believe its lies. If you reject its lies — it is powerless against you. If you accept its lies — it will be able to influence you in some way.
The particular lie that the orphan spirit sells is the idea that you’re on your own; that no one is going to take care of you, nurture you or provide for your needs. It denies that God is a loving Father and that He is able to provide for your needs. When you meet someone who acts as if they must provide for themselves, and never expects anyone to help them — you’ve found someone who is living under the influence of an orphan spirit. And that describes my partner to a tee.
My partner has a habit of complaining about the price of just about everything. If he can get a re-fill on soda at one gas station for a dollar, he complains when he goes to another gas station and has to pay 50 cents more. If a bag of chips is $1.59 at one place and $2.00 somewhere else, he’ll whine about having to pay too much. I found it amusing at first, but after a while, it hit me that here’s a guy who is living paycheck to paycheck, in a job that pays a little more than minimum wage and he’s just trying to stay out of debt. When you’ve had to pay your own way for everything you’ve ever had, money can become a big deal. It dawned on me one day that no one had ever shown him what real generosity looks like. So I figured it was up to me to teach him something about it.
We have a ritual of stopping at the Circle K to get coffee in the morning. A couple of weeks after we began working together, I began paying for his coffee or soda. He liked that and he allowed me to do it for a while with no complaints. Then I started buying him breakfast or lunch once in a while. He didn’t complain about that either. I could tell he was grateful. Then one day, he got to the counter before me and paid for my coffee. I thanked him and we left. I didn’t make a big deal of it, outwardly, but on the inside, I was glowing. My plan was working.
As the weeks went on, the buying-for-your-partner thing escalated and he was now buying me lunch too. And he did it with a smile on his face. It wasn’t like he was doing it to prove a point or doing it grudgingly. I could tell that he sincerely liked showing generosity toward me. Something was changing inside of him.
About two months ago, my partner hurt himself while lifting a heavy patient. Some of the people we transport weigh between 500 and 600 pounds (200 – 300 kilos). The first injury appeared to be a partially torn right bicep. Every time he flexed his forearm, he had a sharp pain in his upper arm. He’s a macho type of guy who doesn’t want to appear to be a sissy and he refused to see a doctor. But day after day, every time he lifted the gurney with a heavy patient, I could see his pain.
I have to admit – I had a real problem wanting to pray with him for healing. He’s heard a few patients thank me for praying with them when we dropped them off at the hospital, but he has no clue what I’ve been doing for the last five years and I’d prefer to keep it that way. Now that might sound strange to some of you, so let me explain where I’m coming from.
I have a lot of friends who read this blog and many of them are friends on Facebook, but almost none are co-workers. If you work with me, your chances of connecting with me on a social network is just about zero. I’m pretty deliberate about keeping my online life and my workplace life separate. It’s not that I don’t pray with co-workers — I’ve actually seen many of them healed, but almost none of them know about “Praying Medic”. Most people who have seen me heal someone at work think I’m just another Christian who happens to know something about healing. They don’t know the things you know about me. God has allowed me to remain anonymous on the internet and at work and I’m happy keeping things that way – at least for now. So I’m trying not to blow my cover, but how was I supposed to keep a lid on things when my partner has a torn bicep and he refuses to see a doctor?
One day, while we were at a hospital I got up the nerve to ask if I could try to get him healed. He said, “sure.” So I placed my hand on his upper arm, commanded it to be healed and asked if he felt anything. He sensed a little tingling and warmth, so I commanded it to be healed a couple more times. The next day he didn’t notice any difference in the level of pain. It seemed like nothing had changed. As the weeks passed it seemed as though maybe his arm was getting better — little by little , but there was nothing dramatic happening.
The week that I returned from vacation, we transported a lot of larger than average patients. I went home several nights that week with back pain and had to lay on an ice pack. On one of these transports, my partner injured his other arm. He had the same symptoms again – pain in his upper arm when he flexed at the elbow. But this time it seemed worse. It looked like he tore his left bicep, but he also couldn’t raise his arm or extend it straight out without having severe pain. One of the common symptoms of a torn rotator cuff is pain at the top of the shoulder when trying to raise your arm. So I wondered if he didn’t also have a partially torn rotator cuff. There was no way to tell, because he still refused to be seen by a doctor.
My partner seems to have been treated harshly over the years whenever he said or did something wrong. I noticed that when he took us to a wrong address he was a lot harder on himself than I would have been. To me, it’s no big deal when you start a new job to make a few mistakes. But he beat himself up verbally when he messed up and I sensed it was because of how people had treated him in the past. I decided to give him a lot of grace for making mistakes, which isn’t always easy for me. One of my biggest pet peeves is professional incompetence.
I’ve always had a problem dealing with people who earn a lot of money and can’t do their job competently. I’ve worked with a lot of nurses and medics over the years who I wouldn’t trust to baby sit a dog, much less take care of a sick relative. So I had to ask God to give me more than the usual amount of patience with him as he learned the ropes. I bit my tongue often when he took a wrong turn or said something that would have normally caused me to correct him. In fact — my correction of him was one of the biggest issues I had to deal with. There are things you have to know and things you must do to not hurt people in EMS, but a lot of the things we say and do are not important enough to warrant correction. And most of his mistakes were little ones that didn’t really matter, so I let most of them slide.
We have what I call a little resort in our backyard. When my wife asked me to move to Arizona, the only condition I insisted on was having a swimming pool. The majority of our backyard is taken up by a massive, free-form diving pool, surrounded by potted flowers and palm trees, making it a great place to relax after work. In the summer we often make tacos and margaritas and enjoy them as we watch the sunset from our lounge chairs next to the pool. When my partner asked what I had planned after a long day at work, I’d often tell him I was going home, making tacos and margaritas, and sitting by the pool. I did it often enough that it became a running joke between us.
The day he injured his left arm, it just happened that we had a repairman coming to fix our furnace, which decided to stop working a few days before the first cold spell of the year. Because we only have one car, and my wife had to be home while the repairman was fixing the furnace, I had to ask my partner to give me a ride home. When I asked if he could give me a ride, he said he would under one condition: we had to make tacos and margaritas for him. I called my wife. She said she’d be happy to get things started.
When I got home, there was a chopped onion sauteing in my favorite frying pan. I added some minced garlic and the rest of the stuff for the tacos, then put some crushed ice in the blender and made a pitcher of margaritas. The dinner was great. We talked about the day we had at work and how he injured his arm. I thought to myself as we talked that it would be the perfect time to get him healed.
As we sat at the table, sipping our drinks, I told my wife we ought to pray for him and see if we could get his arm healed. He was willing to let us give it a shot. I told him about some of the people we’d seen healed and my wife shared the story about the Kirby vacuum cleaner man. I like sharing a few testimonies before we get down to the business of healing. I feel like it creates faith in the person who needs healing, but it also reminds me of what God has done in the past and helps get rid of any unbelief I have.
My wife and I placed our hands on his left arm. She prayed in tongues, I commanded the pain to leave and spoke to the muscle, tendons, cartilage, and connective tissue, telling them to be healed. He said his upper arm suddenly felt numb. No tingling and no heat — just a weird numbness that wasn’t there before. He still felt some pain when he flexed his arm, so we kept praying. I commanded spirits of pain to leave and commanded the bicep to be healed. My wife kept praying in tongues. He noticed that the severity of pain decreased each time we prayed, so we kept praying for about 10 minutes.
At this point, I felt as if we’d made pretty decent progress and I believed the healing would continue during the night. He was grateful for the improvement we’d made, but he had to leave to take care of a little crisis involving a friend that came up during dinner. I thanked him for giving me a ride home and told him I’d see him in the morning at work.
The next day at work we had the usual number of calls. I didn’t notice anything different about the way he was lifting and he didn’t say anything to indicate he was healed. A couple of hours before the end of shift, he looked at me with a smile. He showed me that he could raise his arm up and flex it with almost no discomfort. He said he’d been trying to figure out all day a logical explanation about why his arm was feeling so much better. He wanted to rule out natural explanations before acknowledging a supernatural one.
He said, “I remembered I took a bunch of supplements yesterday morning and I thought maybe that was what happened.”
I asked if he thought that was the real reason why he felt better. “No. I did some research on the stuff I took and none of it would have made my arm better.”
He smiled and grew quiet. We both knew the real reason behind the healing.
It’s now a few days later and he still has good range of motion. He has a little pain when he puts his arm in a strange position like reaching behind the seat to put his seat belt on, but I’d put his healing at around 90%. Today he told me his right bicep is also nearly completely healed. It’s taken a long time, but the pain is mostly gone and he puts it at about the same stage of healing as the left one. I have no explanation as to why one bicep would take over a month to heal and the other one manifested healing in 24 hours.
I have a lot of time yet to spend with my partner. There are a lot more lessons for both of us to learn. One day I may get to explain to him the good news about Jesus. But I’m convinced it has to be on his time schedule and not mine. Today he told me he doesn’t mind people having their religious beliefs, but he doesn’t like it when people push their beliefs on others at work. I had to wait two years with one of my partners before he allowed me to share what I knew about God with him. But when I did – he listened intently for several hours and received everything I said. We’d built enough trust and respect over the years. He knew I had his best interest in mind and he knew I’d tell him the truth. Hopefully, my new partner will allow me to share the same things with him one day.
I’ll keep you posted on that.
In Defense of Margaritas
I know someone will leave a comment about the shameless way I put the use of alcohol on display in this post, and I hate having to explain this to one person at a time in reply to individual comments. So here’s the deal on the margaritas:
I used to drink pretty heavily when I was young, but not because I was an alcoholic. I drank because I have 7 brothers and some of them were alcoholics and I was influenced by their antics. I don’t have an addiction to alcohol. If I never had another margarita in my life, it would be no big deal. I opt for a bottle of ice water as my beverage of choice about as often as I choose something alcoholic.
I have two adult children and neither of them drink. They’ve pretty much decided never to drink because of all the horror stories I came home with about people being killed or arrested for the stupid things they did when they were drunk.
The bible says we should not be drunk with wine, and yet the man who wrote this admonition prescribed wine for a young pastor friend. The word reminds us to live sober, and yet the savior of the world hung out with drunks and was accused of being one himself. The bible says a lot of contradictory things about alcohol and you can pick the verses that support your views, but that doesn’t negate the verses that support an opposing view.
I understand better than most people the dangers of alcoholism. I’ve treated alcoholics and their families who have been devastated by its effects most of my life. If you have an addiction to alcohol — please realize that you have a weakness other people don’t have and you’re not at liberty to drink in the same way others are. Our individual liberties are not all the same. What one man has the freedom to do another man does not.
I don’t wish to stumble anyone with my liberty, and yet, it was for that very liberty that Christ came. He came to set us free. Don’t become enslaved to any form of bondage – either the abuse of alcohol or the abuse of religion, where righteousness is determined by what we put inside our bodies.
Thanks for listening.