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Searching for God

Even back then I was searching for hard evidence of God as an alternative to faith. And one day I found it—on television, of all places. While randomly flipping a dial, I came across a mass healing service being conducted by Kathryn Kuhlman. I watched for a few minutes as she brought various people up on the stage and interviewed them. Each one told an amazing story of supernatural healing. Cancer, heart conditions, paralysis—it was like a medical encyclopedia up there.

As I watched Kuhlman’s program, my doubts gradually melted away. At last I had found something real and tangible. Kuhlman asked a musician to sing her favorite song, “He Touched Me. That’s what I needed, I thought; a touch, a personal touch from God. She held out that promise, and I lunged for it.

Three weeks later when Kathryn Kuhlman came to a neighboring state, I skipped classes and traveled half a day to attend one of her meetings. The atmosphere was unbelievably charged—soft organ music in the background; the murmuring sound of people praying aloud, some in strange tongues; and every few minutes a happy interruption when someone would stand and claim, “I’m healed!”

One person especially make an impression, a man from Milwaukee who had been carried into the meeting on a stretcher. When he walked—yes, walked—onstage, we all cheered wildly. He told us he was a physician, and I was even more impressed. He had incurable lung cancer, he said, and was told he had six months to live. But now, tonight, he believed God had healed him. He was walking for the first time in months. He felt great. Praise God! I wrote down the man’s name and practically floated out of that meeting. I had never known such certainty of faith before. My search was over; I had seen proof of a living God in those people on the stage. If he could work tangible miracles in them, then surely he had something wonderful in store for me. I wanted contact with the man of faith I had seen at the meeting, so much so that exactly one week later I phoned Directory Assistance in Milwaukee

and got the physician’s number. When I dialed it, a woman answered the phone.

“May I please speak to Dr. S_____,” I said.

Long silence.

“Who are you?” she said at last.

I figured she was just screening calls from patients or something. I gave my name and told her I admired Dr. S_____ and had wanted to talk to him ever since the Kathryn Kuhlman meeting. I had been very moved by his story, I said.

Another long silence.

Then she spoke in a flat voice, pronouncing each word slowly. “My...husband...is...dead.” Just that one sentence, nothing more, and she hung up.

I can’t tell you how that devastated me. I was wasted. I half-staggered into the next room, where my sister was sitting.

“Richard, what’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you all right?”

No, I was not all right. But I couldn’t talk about it. I was crying. My mother and sister tried to pry some explanation out of me. But what could I tell them? For me, the certainty I had staked my life on had died with that phone call. A flame had flared bright for one fine, shining week and then gone dark, like a dying star.

Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey, Zondervan, pp. 38-40