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(This takes place at a tiny Church in Oakland where renewal had just recently broken out.)
A small group of people walked in late, near the end of the sermon. They sat directly behind us and one of the women greeted me as she sat down. (She looked familiar to me, but I could not place where I knew her from.) Cindy and I were still pretty drunk and were trying to keep from laughing too loud. As Cindy and I quited down, God really hit the lady behind us. She started laughing and laughing. It was fun watching/hearing her. They took the offering and she said out loud (to no one in particular) "I've never had this much fun giving to the Lord before." I was immediately reminded of the verse, "God loves a cheerful giver." I had once heard a sermon that taught that the word "cheerful" was really more accruately translated as "hillarious". The woman certainly seemed to fit that description and it was fun to watch God blessing her as she gave.
They invited anyone who wanted ministry prayer to come forward. Cindy and I wasted no time making our way to the front. Neither did the joyful lady behind us. (I was later to learn that her name was Eilene). Cindy and I were standing side by side and a lady came up to us and asked which of us wanted to be prayed for first. I had a strong sense that Cindy was to go first and gave her a gentle shove. Either Cindy was off balance or the shove was not nearly as gentle as I thought/intended. Anyhow, Cindy practically went flying into the woman's arms. "Opps!" I thought.
The woman wanted me to act as catcher. But I felt that on day 35 of a long fast I was too physically weak to catch people. So I said I could not catch. The pastor was on the stage, about to pray for a teenage boy. He came down to act as Cindy's catcher, then turned to me and offered to pray for me. I was more than happy to have him pray for me. There was not room where we were standing, so he moved me way over the the far right side of the altar. He started to pray for me and then God was all over me.
God's joy just really hit me, springing up from within me like a well. I could feel His power and His victory all over me. I had a strong sense of God focusing His attention on me, and of Him being pleased with me. He was pleased, not because of anything I had done, but because I was His little girl and He loved me. I was overcome with His joy and went down laughing. His pleasure flooded my senses. I became very aware that He had been indwelling me and working in me and transforming me and conforming me to the image of Christ all of these years. I realized that He is to get credit for all of the good changes He has worked in my life. I realized that He was not done, that there were areas of my life He still needed to transform. But He had certainly taken me a long way. He was the One who did it all. It was not possible for me to change myself or to make myself holy. But His indwelling Holy Spirit has been doing this good work in me all along. I had the sense of God, as an artist, backing up and taking a good look at the piece He was currently working on (me in this case) and being pleased with His good work. I had a sense of God being proud of what He had accomplished so far in my life. I had a sense that all credit and glory must go to Him because He is the one doing the good work. Then my spirit was flooded at joy in being His piece of art, of feeling His pride and delight in His good work in me. I was overcome with joy and it burst out of me as laughter. My spirit was literally delighting in His spirit. I was so overcome with His goodness, His faithfulness. I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I could trust Him to complete that good work that He had started in me. I was strongly reminded of Jesus' words in John 14:16-17: "And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth." I was also reminded of Jesus saying "I am the vine and you are the branches -- apart from me, you can do nothing." and His promise "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you."
He totally saturated my senses for a while. I was lost in His goodness and in His delight. The Holy Spirit was assuring me that He was doing a good work in my life, transforming me to be like Christ. I was not to try and work it up on my own, but to let Him to do His good work. He assured me that He would complete the good work He stared in me. He assured me that He knew exactly what He was doing and that He was not behind schedule. He assured me that He was pleased with the good work He had already done in me. My spirit responding by bursting forth into prayer -- I invited the Lordship of Jesus Christ into every area of my life. I thanked the Father for loving me and drawing me to Himself. I told the Holy Spirit that I wanted to be someone who He enjoyed living inside and invited Him to do His good work in me. I told Him I'd try to work with Him as best as I could and try not to grieve Him and asked Him to convict me whenever I started resisting His work within me. I was so full of joy and just wanted to be in the center of His will. I was so full of confidence in God and in His ability to transform me and to do a good work within me. While all of this was going on, I as laughing and laughing and laughing. The more I laughted, the more I sensed His presense on me. The more I laughed, the more I was confident of His Holy Spirit's ability to transform my nature and conform me to the image of Christ. The more I laughed, the more I was aware of His delight in the good work He had already accomplished in me.
How could anyone get near a wonderful God like that and not love Him with all of their heart, all of their soul and all of their spirit? God is so good and so awesome. I found myself wanting to honor Him with every fiber of my being. I found myself renewing my commitment to obey and honor Him. I found myself inviting Him to change the desires of my heart to line up with the desires of His heart.
I was reminded of Jesus saying in John 4 that the fields are white (ripe) harvest but that there are not enough laborers. I found myself saying, "here I am, Lord. Send me. Use me to advance Your kingdom, to further your plans and purposes." Then I was so overcome by His joy that I could hardly stand it. I was also overwhelmed by His love for me. I broke into worship, then back into laughter. It came to the point where even my laughter became an act of worship. Would not not possibly worship this wonderful and awesome God?
Eventually I became aware of the woman laying next to me. She was laughing about the same as I was laughing. We were both filled to overflowing wiht the joy of the Lord. That woman was Eilene, the lady who had arrived late and sat behind me. God told me to take her hand, that He wanted to do a joint work in both of us. I reached over and took her hand. About then, we made eye contact. I could see the Lord reflecting out of her eyes and susposed that she saw the same in my eyes. We were both overcome with His joy and burst into laughter again. When I finally caught my breath, I said aloud -- "Lord, please come and touch us again. We want more of You. We want Your lordship in our life."
The wave of power that hit us was incredible. We both started shaing and laughing. God's power just washed over us. It julted through our bodies, but it brought an even greater increase of His joy.
Eilene burst out into prayer, worhshipping God and inviting His Lordship in every area of our lives. I found myself praying along and agreeing with her prayers. When she finished, I found myself praying out loud, "Holy Spirit, we want to be people You enjoy living in. We want to obey You when we hear Your voice. We don't want to grieve you, we want tender hearts before you. Please change us to be people who You truely enjoy living in."
Eilene started laughing and said, "I've never heard it put quite that way before, but yes, Lord, please do it. I want to delight you and serve You."
We had quite a time of intercession, prayer, worship and laughing. Somewhere during all of this, Cindy sat up and watched us for a minute or two. The she said, "I'm coming over to where you guys are, I want in on this action." She crawled over to us and took my right hand. I was still holding Eilene's hand in my left hand. Eilene and I prayed that God would fill Cindy to overflowing and she was instantly drunk. Cindy started laughing and laughing, just like we were. Then Cindy would try to sit up and would end up falling down in some funny position or another. She kept doing this over and over as she responded in delight to the Lord's touch. It would have been humorous to watch even if we were NOT drunk in the spirit. Since Eilene and I were already overflowing with joy and bursting with laugher, Cindy's antics were incredibly and joyfully amusing. We had been awesomely touched and blessed before Cindy joined us, but somehow it got even better when she came. There was something about watching each other delight in the Lord that increased each of our own delight. At one point, I felt that I could not possibly get fuller or happier; that I was filled beyond capacity.
Then God spoke to me and asked me to notice how this joy of His bonded His children together in Love. Here were three women from three different Churches all of which had distinctly different tradtions. Yet we were bonded together as one in Him. And we were laying on the floor of a fourth Church, with it's own culture and traditions. Yes, the laughter seemed to be bonding us together as one in Him. I shared this with Cindy and Eilene. They responded by breaking into worship. How could I but join in their worship? God was so incredible. Then a wave of His power hit all three of us at the same time. It was so overcoming. We all cried out and started shaking in unison. God kept coming on us with wave after wave of power. As each wave died down, the joy would start up and we'd be lauging again. Sometimes the wave would start first with Eilene then hit me and then hit Cindy -- sort of a ripple effect. Some times it would it all three of us at exactly the same time. I was overcome by His power and His love. I was bursting with His joy. I was filled with an intense sense of love for Cindy and Eilene and sense of unity with them. God's expereince was richer and fuller because we were sharing it together. He delights in binding His kids together in Love. I had a very strong sense of our heavenly "Daddy" coming and playing with His kids, just like a human daddy will sometimes tackle his little kids and tickle them, then swing them up on his shoulders for a ride, then toss them in the air and catch them, the tickle them some more. It was an awesome experience, and it lasted for quite a while.
From time to time, people from the church would come over and pray for us and bless us and ask God to give us more. At one point either Eilene or Cindy (I can't remember which) said, "If He gives us any more, we'll all be dead. There's no way our bodies could possibly handle more than He's already given us." I nodded viggerously because I had been thinking the exact same thing.
At one point, the fullness in us overflowed us. The pastor had come over and was asking God to give us more. God was overflowing our banks and it just turned into ministry prayer. All three of us spontaneously started praying for the pastor. He was down (no catcher) instantly and shaking under the power. We spent the next half hour or so praying for people around us. God kept showing up in power and touching and meeting the people we were praying for. We seemed to branch out and all pray for different people. God was all over the place. His presense and power were incredible.
At one point I noticed Eilene praying for a woman and crawled over to her. I joined in the prayer and God really touched/blessed the woman. Then my hand started to get really hot and tingly and I recoginzed this as a healing anointing. I told Eilene that I felt a healing anointing on me and asked her if this woman (a friend of hers) needed a physical healing. Eilene responded, "No, but I do. Pray for me." She explained that she had a chronic and painful back problem -- a herniated disk in her lower back. She said that she'd been in constant pain for years and has traction thearopy twice a week for this condition. I put my hand on her back and asked God to come with His healing anointing. Then I was strongly reminded that when Jesus had prayed for healings, those prayers were usually more in the form of a command. So I "commanded" the back to be well in Jesus' name.
All of the sudden, there was a great deal of heat. Eilene could feel it in her back and I could feel it in my hand. I am not sure if my hand actually got hot or if I just felt heat radiating off of Eilene's back as God touched her. Anyhow, I was more of an observer in God's grace than anything else -- He is the one who was doing the healing and I was mostly just watching Him do His good work. Since I was not totally sure what to do, I just left my hand on her back until the heat disipated.
Eilene became quite excited as the heat started. She was saying things like, "Oh my gosh! God is really touching me" .... "I can feel a deep warm explosion of heat. It's so hot that I can't feel the pain any more, just the heat" ... "You know, I am becoming deeply impressed with how much He loves me. He really does love me. He is so good!" ... "I think God might really be healing me...".
About 10 minutes later, the heat disipated. Eilene started grin and cry simultaneously. "The pain is gone." She said. I suggested she move around and see if it was really gone. She started squirming around, moving her back and looked sort of like a child with a new toy. "It feels like the knife has been taken out of my back!" she said. "I can't believe I'm moving like this --no pain!!!"
Eilene plans to keep her next physical theorapy appointment, and to ask the theorapist to examine her. She would like a medical verification of this healing. She can hardly wait to see what her theorapist makes of all this and plans to share Jesus and the good news of the gospel with her theorapist. I hope to see Eilene again next week and hope to have a full report.
Eilene is a somewhat conservative woman in her early 50s. She became so excited at what the Lord had done that she started dancing, right there in Church. The pastor came over and she told him what happened. Soon the whole place was rejoicing with her. Eilene is not sure which was the greater miracle -- that God miraculously healed her back or that He gave her a deep and personal revelation of His love for her. Eilene has always felt like God is obligated to love her but that He probably doesn't like her very much. Now she feels much more secure in His love for her. She has a fresh spark in her walk with Him.
I stand in awe of God's goodness and His healing power. This was truely an incredible experience watching Him come and heal and touch His children. I get the sense that He would like to do a lot more of this, that it should be sort of normal for Christians to invite Him to come and touch and heal people and that He would like to come and do so. He is very good!
I was so touched and so blessed and so ministered to. I am delighted that as I became full to overflowing, that it flowed out as ministry and that God used me to powerfully impact others, just as He had been powerfully impacting me. All I can say is "More Lord! Give me more of You. Use me more for Your plans and purposes."
God is so good! It is so exciting being His!
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