Of course, one of the recurrent themes in the book of Acts has to do with the power of the Holy Spirit. In our reading for today, we came across these verses.... “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. . . . As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.” Perhaps if we recovered more of the power of the Holy Spirit in our own day then more people would be attracted to the church.
C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman, the woman who became Lewis’s wife, had such an unusual relationship that a movie was made about them called Shadowlands. Davidman was a secular American Jewish woman who was led to faith in Christ partly through reading Lewis’s books. She wrote to Lewis in England thanking him for his books and a pen friendship began. Then in 1952, as her marriage to Bill Gresham was falling apart, Joy decided to travel to England for a break and to meet her spiritual mentor, Lewis. Joy subsequently divorced her husband, who was a compulsive adulterer, and moved with her two boys to England. Joy and Lewis met frequently and their friendship deepened. Then in 1956 the British Home Office refused to renew Joy’s visa; they were ready to deport her back to America. At that point C. S. Lewis agreed to marry Joy in a civil ceremony, extending to her and her boys his British citizenship. The two were married in law but continued to live apart as friends. Later that same year, Joy was diagnosed with cancer and it was at that point, as the sword of Damocles hung over Joy’s head, that Jack Lewis realized he was in love with Joy Davidman. Joy was only expected to live for a matter of days or weeks; her body was riddled with cancer. But Jack wanted to marry her in an ecclesiastical ceremony nonetheless. The problem was that the Anglican Church at that time did not approve of the remarriage of divorcees under any circumstances. The Bishop of Oxford could not approve of the marriage, though he was sympathetic. So C. S. Lewis called on a former student of his, Peter Bide, and asked if he would perform the marriage ceremony. Bide agreed, and the two were married at Joy’s hospital bedside. Now it was known that Peter Bide had, in the past, prayed for various people and witnessed some miraculous healing. So Lewis asked Bide if he would lay hands on his wife. Bide did. And Joy Lewis, whose body was shot through with cancer, who wasn’t expected to live but a couple of days, recovered. The cancer went into remission and she lived another three years. Jack and Joy went on honeymoon together to Ireland and, in the last months of Joy’s life, took a dream trip to Greece together.
Years later, when Bide was asked about his healing gift, he said, “the Lord Jesus Christ sometimes chooses to heal people when I pray for them.” What a wonderful, humble way to put it! Perhaps if we prayed more for people, expecting the Lord to heal and perform miracles, we would see more of the power of the Holy Spirit in the church today.