Freedom Friday: Why I Still Wear my LIVESTRONG Bracelet and Listen to the Song “Healer”

My dad gave me a LIVESTRONG bracelet to wear as I ran my 2nd 5K in 2008.

I had raised over $1000 for cancer research and was super excited to run. This was my first race to run for those who can’t run themselves. I’ve worn it for every race since.

My dad had been wearing one for a long time and supported the LIVESTRONG foundation in other ways. He identified with Lance Armstrong’s own battle with cancer and his decision to live life to the fullest as long as he is able.

Lance Armstrong admitted to doping shortly after my father died of cancer.

I still wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet.

Running the Baltimore Marathon in Oct. 2013, LIVESTRONG bracelet on

Running the Baltimore Marathon in Oct. 2013, LIVESTRONG bracelet on

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Michael Guglielmucci composed the song “Healer” in late 2006 after announcing he was dying of cancer. This song was a popular choice at the church we attended in Boston prior to moving to Virginia. I cried through many choruses, declaring, “I believe You’re my healer, I believe You are all I need,” all the while recognizing that God didn’t appear to be healing my father. I sang with passion, “You walk with me through fire; You heal all my disease. I trust in You – I trust in You,” knowing that trust is a choice to believe in God’s character, to rely on His goodness, to ask for His eyes to see clearly when nothing seems to be making sense.

At some point in the last year, I was told about the history of the song which had surfaced in 2008. Michael Guglielmucci had faked his illness, an attempt to create a diversion from a 16-year battle with pornography addiction.

I still sing the song “Healer.”

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We often lack true grace in our society. I’m not talking about sloppy or cheap grace – the counterfeit that allows us to continue in our sin when God beckons us to live in freedom.

I’m talking about real grace.

The kind of grace that Jesus extended to the woman caught in adultery, recounted in John 8 – grace that extends a hand when you’re down, helps you up, and then commands you to “Go and sin no more.”

The kind of grace that Jesus talked about when He said to forgive “seventy times seven” times.

The kind of grace that hung from a cross so that we could have a chance at the abundant life of freedom we were created to live.

How many second chances has Jesus given you?

What about third? Fourth? Fifth? One hundredth?

We need to learn about true grace. We want justice; we don’t want to forgive. We laugh at others’ failures in hopes that somehow, it shows us in a better light. We try to negotiate when forgiveness is appropriate, as if Jesus’s words weren’t clear. We don’t extend to others the grace we expect for ourselves.

I wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet (I don’t wear the original one my dad give me; I now wear his) as a reminder to live a life of goodness, one of my father’s aspirations. I wear it, reminded of a man named Lance Armstrong who had imperfections, but chose to do much good with the influence he had gained. Yes, he made some big mistakes and then he lied about them. Is that unforgivable? I wear this bracelet so that I remember to not lose heart when life gets hard. I wear it as a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

I sing the song “Healer” because Michael Guglielmucci knew God could heal him of his pornography addiction. He knew it so deeply in his soul that he wrote a song about it. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I don’t believe God heals us in a bubble (James 5:16), that healing generally happens in the context of community. I pray now he has found the healing he needs. I sing the song because the words aren’t any less true just because Michael Guglielmucci was lying about having cancer when he wrote that song; the truth contained in the song has not changed because the writer’s lies were exposed. I sing “Healer” because I¬†desperately believe in its sentiment.

For nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Extend grace to someone this week, even if they don’t deserve it. Especially if they don’t deserve it. That is what the cross did for you and me. Forgive someone. Ask God to search your heart and show you your own graceless attitudes.

Lord, help us to be more like You.

 

2 thoughts on “Freedom Friday: Why I Still Wear my LIVESTRONG Bracelet and Listen to the Song “Healer”

  1. Fantastic article and I whole-heartedly agree. Grace will never lead us to sin, but it will certainly lead us out of it if we follow it.

    Not to be cynical, but lets be real, Guglielmucci’s situation is indicative of a common problem with many pastors in the church. Putting a facade up to hide their sexual sin. Not excusing what he did, but as Jesus said, “What one generation does in private, will be made public in the next.” I believe it is time we get real about dealing with the skeletons in our closet, and let Christ sanctify unto Himself a pure church, unspotted from the world.

    I still sing the song, because I know what it is like to be bound by pornography and yet you want to serve God. It is indeed truth, biblically accurate, and I am convinced the Holy Spirit uses it to minister to others and reveal His nature to people through that song. How difficult it is to live in that way, but until I knew the involvement of grace in my life to free me from it, no amount of behavior modification could set me free. It wasn’t until I knew the power of Christ’s sacrifice, and BELIEVED that it alone was truly enough, that I knew what it was to walk in freedom- and this was after I had been saved for many years.

    I’d love to see the church respond biblically and restore him with the Spirit of love and mercy. Fulfilling the scripture that states so clearly, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Gal 6:1-2. His burden is to become our burden, not quarantined or hidden away, but to become a testimony of the goodness of God and an example of Christ’s work in our lives.

    Could the world think the church a joke if we did what Paul had instructed? I couldn’t see how they would contest the evidence of Christ at work in such a situation.

    • Great, comment, Allen. Yes, it’s time the church took God at His Word. That means practicing confession (James 5:16) as well as restoring those who have sinned. That’s one reason I choose to, like Paul, boast in my weaknesses – so, prayerfully, others might feel safe to share their own struggles.

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