In 2012 right after I finished competing at the USA’s, I took a little break from training. But I did not take a break from being active. We had a volley ball night at church and of course I played. It was fun and our team ended up winning the whole tournament (No thanks to me, I was just on a great team).
Afterwards we were playing basketball and I was trying to see if at my size I was still able to dunk a basketball. Obviously with my newly added size I was not able to. The rim was a tough defender it was my biggest defensive opponent, it kept blocking me. Unfortunately my body was not used to explosive movements and movements that really stretched me out. I went up for my last attempt, got blocked by the rim and felt a very awkward pull in my stomach right above my belly button.
I immediately thought I had a hernia but didn’t believe it so I didn’t tell anyone and I went home. The next day I showed my workout partner at the gym, and there was a golf ball sized circle right above my belly button. I did not have any pain. I didn’t really talk about it because I don’t bring a lot of attention to my injuries, because it’s just an excuse in my mind to not train as hard or to be in shape. I went on to show 4 or 5 other people including my mom who told me I need to get surgery on it. I believed it could get healed by God, and was eagerly praying for it.
I was also looking, doing my research, and finding out costs for the right doctor to do my surgery. This was all a backup plan while I was desperately praying to get healed. Now I wasn’t praying to get healed because I was scared of surgery, it was because I knew God is great and powerful and he could do anything, plus I did not want to take time off from the gym (which I never did).
But While I was praying for healing, getting hands laid on me and asking others to pray, I was trying to act extremely “Christian”, self-righteous, and legalistic. I was honestly thinking if “I am extra good, maybe God will heal me” “If I am good enough God will love me more and show me favor”. This is all terrible thinking. But isn’t it how we think? We think we can earn God’s favor and love more than usual by our actions? Well, let me finish the story.
A couple weeks after getting the hernia, and my streak of being a super good, legalistic, play by the rules, model Christian, I was having a terrible day. This resulted in a not so Christian behavior and attitude with a blow up argument with someone who was very close to me. I was so mad, I remember going to sleep furious, and I whispered a halfhearted prayer about my hernia being healed. I woke the next morning and looked in the mirror and flexed, looked at my stomach and realized my hernia was gone. It was healed, a miracle just happened. All I could do was just start laughing uncontrollable with how ridiculous it was, and I immediately sent out texts to people who knew about my situation as a testimony to God’s healing power.
As I was showering right after, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and say “Steven, I love you and I healed you not because you were good, but solely because I am good, and I love you. You can’t do anything more or anything less to earn my love”. I stood there in shock realizing what I was trying to do. Earns God love and favor? His love was displayed on the cross, God furiously loves us and sinners just as equally, and if anything happens it is not because we are good it is only because he is good. How refreshing is that? Now I am not saying go out, commit all the sin you want and ignore truth and righteousness (Read Romans 6:1-2). I am saying God loves you no matter what. God is Love.
Stop getting so wrapped up in legalism and trying so hard, just rest in the fact that God loves you, and you already are blessed. He can do miracles, but it’s not because you are good, it’s for him to show off his power, glory, increase your faith, and use it as a testimony to others. For him, not for you. It’s not about you, it’s about him. Take the focus off your life, it’s about God!
Some say I never had a hernia, but many people saw it. Some say it just popped back in. If that were the case with the way I lift, it would have popped back out. Also, if it was still there it would have been visible when I stepped on stage for my last bodybuilding show. Believe it or not… That’s fine by Me. But my God is a God of miracles and we all need more faith, and maybe things like this would happen more often if we did have more faith. But here is the take home message. God loves you no matter what.
-Conquer the Flesh