The Quest for Wholeness

Dedicated to the memory of Mary, Constance and Ronald



I have come that men may have life, and have it in all its fullness.
              John 10:10
So shall we all at last attain to the unity inherent in our faith and our knowledge of the Son of God - to mature manhood, measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ.
              Ephesians 4:13


"One further warning, my son: the use of books is endless, and much study is wearisome." This observation, from Ecclesiastes 12:12, reminds me of the vast literature about the ministry of healing currently available and being augmented year by year. The Church's ministry of healing is now an integral part of its work, but in fact all worship has within it a healing potential.

To me, healing is the process whereby humanity is gradually restored to the divine image in which it was created so that we all can come to share in the very being of God. This vision may be simplistically impractical when we remember the unfortunate people born with severe physical and mental defects, to say nothing of the terrible family and communal circumstances in which many others are reared. While everything possible must be done to relieve suffering, the human condition contains within its core an innate nobility that is here to triumph over adversity and to assert its deeper divinity so emphatically as to work towards the lifting up of the entire world to eternal glory. It is a privilege as well as a responsibility to be born human, and full healing involves more than a surface amelioration of suffering, essential as this may be in the short term. In fact, the process of life is one of progressive healing, and we have ultimately to find the tools of health in the circumstances around us, unpromising as these often appear to be. Awareness of the present moment is the secret of the healing ministry. This is a sensitivity to the universal thrust of life, which may to some extent be identified with God in religious parlance, and to our fellow-creatures also.

What the world dismisses as a failure in healing may be a future instance of glowing success in a sufferer's life. What may seem to be an amazing healing of a diseased person could, on the other hand, be the means of his stultification if he becomes fanatically entrenched in a particular line of thought that can admit no other possibilities of truth.

Life is seldom comfortable for any length of time if we are doing our work properly. But its end is well worth while: to find freedom from material and psychological illusion, to enter into the depths of our own being, and to know the Divine Presence that will never leave us alone until we are fully ourselves in the heart of reality. It is there that we know God as he is.

All the cases recorded in this book are real, but the names of the people mentioned have been changed - with the exception of the three to whom the book is dedicated. Though I owe much to the witness of these three and am dedicated to their memory, I have not refrained from drawing attention to their failings as ministers of healing. When one speaks of departed friends, it is all too easy to embellish their images with an aura of infallibility and sanctity. In the same way, less scrupulous biographers can uncover less attractive aspects of their subjects in order to create a sensation. As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones". And Dostoevsky noted in The Brothers Karamazov, in relation to the unexpectedly early putrefaction of the body of the saintly Father Zosima and the scandal it evoked among the bystanders, that nothing is more pleasant than witnessing the humiliation of a good person - at least for the common run of humanity who always feel challenged by the apparent holiness of one of their number. The behaviour of most of those who witnessed the Crucifixion reinforces this observation.

I have tried to steer a middle course between these two extremes. It is important for us all to recognize that no one, other than Christ, has attained wholeness. The minister of healing works towards that end no less in helping others to health than in the course of his or her everyday life. It is one thing to have a healing gift, but another to be fully healed oneself.

  • Chapter 1
  • The Healing Experience
  • Chapter 2
  • The Call to Heal
  • Chapter 3
  • The Burden of Disclosure
  • Chapter 4
  • The Journey to Truth
  • Chapter 5
  • The Contribution of Faith
  • Chapter 6
  • The Intricacies of Prayer in Healing
  • Chapter 7
  • The Price of Healing
  • Chapter 8
  • There is a Time
  • Chapter 9
  • Maturity and Healing
  • Chapter 10
  • The Ministry of Love
  • Chapter 11
  • Fulfilment

    Copyright©1989 Martin Israel