I have been a believer since I was eight years old, and growing up in the evangelical church, I’ve heard of so many people baffled by the Holy Spirit. In some ways, he’s seen as an afterthought to the trinity — a bonus entity in the Godhead.
But that’s not at all who the Holy Spirit is; he is an equal part of the trinity. But how do we discern what’s coming from the Holy Spirit and what’s just our own thoughts bouncing around in our heads?
The answer to that question is Scripture, according to Anne Graham Lotz, author of the new book, “Jesus In Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion.”
In just a matter of a few years, Lotz’s life has been turned upside down. In 2015, her husband Danny died. In February 2018, her father, the beloved Rev. Billy Graham, passed away, and in August of that same year, Lotz was diagnosed with breast cancer. Looking back, though, Lotz said she doesn’t see brokenness and despair: she sees God’s faithfulness through the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
“For me,” Lotz told Faithwire, “[the Holy Spirit] speaks to me through God’s Word.”
In the book, Lotz writes that her devotional the morning after her diagnosis — a result, she said, the Holy Spirit prepared her for — was from Job 42:12, which reads, “The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.” She went on to explain she felt an inexplicable peace, giving her the confidence that God “would use [cancer] to lead me to my heritage — where He wanted me to be.”
Over the course of her months-long treatment, Lotz said she began to see her time at the hospital as a “mission” opportunity, both for those she encountered as well as those who have been watching and praying for her from afar.
While her journey toward healing didn’t necessarily teach her anything new about the Holy Spirit, Lotz said her time battling cancer has deepened her relationship with the Lord.
“The Holy Spirit, if I can put it this way, is emotionally involved in my life,” she said. “When I do the right thing, he rejoices. When I do the wrong thing, he grieves, because he wants the best for me, and he wants me to fulfill my potential. That was, and still is, a very precious thought.”
And in fact, the Holy Spirit was deeply involved in Lotz’s entire fight against cancer, and she wanted people to be able to see her journey as it unfolded, so she made the choice to be very transparent not only with her family but also on social media.
She felt the Holy Spirit telling her, through James 5:16, to share her struggles openly. The passage says, “Pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
“We never know for sure; we walk by faith,” Lotz said. “That verse from James just seemed to leap up as if God was saying, ‘Anne, you have to ask other people to pray for you,’ and so I did.”
Part of the reason she has spoken so openly, too, is because it’s important, as believers, to share our testimonies — to let people into the dark recesses of our lives just as we invite them into our bright mountaintops moments. In order for people to see “Jesus in me, I’ve got to let them see me,” Lotz explained. “The good and the bad, the struggles and the victories.”
Lotz’s experience with the Holy Spirit during her fight wasn’t just as bookends. She had to learn to rely on him in the middle, when she was weary and lonely and in the time when the well of hope that fueled her felt as if it was running dry.
There was a moment, when she had endured five rounds of chemotherapy, that Lotz felt confident she had been healed and was exhausted by her treatment and ready to cut it short. But then the Holy Spirit spoke to her, this time through one of her daughters.
Ready to skip her last two sessions, Lotz called on God to give her a sign, because she didn’t want to end her treatment just based on “an impression” — she wanted a clear signal from Scripture.
“A couple hours after I prayed that prayer,” Lotz said, “my youngest daughter came by and she was sharing with me what her lesson was going to be for her women’s Bible study that she was teaching, and it was from 2 Kings 5.”
The Old Testament passage tells the story of Naaman, a Syrian general who turned to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. The man of God told Naaman to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed.
Begrudgingly, Naaman ultimately did as Elisha told him, and he was made well.
“I had seven chemo treatments — I had two more to go and that would be seven,” Lotz said. “That verse almost had my name on it: ‘Anne, you dip seven times in the Jordan, you go through chemo seven times, and I’ll heal you,’ so I did.”
“I believe I’m healed and I know that there’s a greater healing than a physical healing, and that’s the resurrection,” she continued. “So if the Lord takes me home, I’m OK with that. … But if I stay here, I want to have more fruitful service.”
Lotz completed her final infusion last week. Please continue to pray for her as the healing process continues. You can learn more about Lotz’s new book, “Jesus In Me,” here.