I had a really amazing weekend, and it was more than my book being published and purchased (by actual people who may even read it!).
I got to witness God at work.
Weeks, even a couple months ago, I began to feel worried that I wasn’t really a Christian. I John 5 says that the Spirit testifies that we have received eternal life in God’s son, Jesus. All throughout the New Testament it says that the Holy Spirit works within us to fulfill God’s purpose and make us more Christ-like. My pastor at church gave a sermon a while back about how these changes in our lives are one piece of evidence that those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers belong to God. But I wasn’t seeing that evidence in my life, and it made me worried. I couldn’t see any changes when I looked back, I just saw the same effed-up girl who fails over and over and over to do the right thing and be even a halfway decent person.
That began to change on Thursday. Well, Wednesday night, really. I had already planned not to go to small group on Thursday, because I didn’t feel like it, because I didn’t want to. But on Wednesday night, I sensed God telling me that I was supposed to go. Since God was watching and he’s bigger than me (and also loves me and wants the best for me), I went.
I’m so glad I did. There weren’t many of us there, but it was a good talking and bonding time, and to pray for each other and for me to ask them to pray for my loneliness issues. My friend Courtney has been dealing with a physical injury since October, and as she was talking about it, another girl suggested she go to the Healing Prayer session that I guess our church hosts every Saturday morning, or every few Saturdays. I offered to accompany her for moral support, so we agreed that I’d pick her up on Saturday and we’d go to the prayer session together.
On Saturday, neither of us knew what to expect, but it wasn’t scary. We sat in the chairs they set out in the designated room, and people from the church’s prayer ministry walked around and asked if they could pray for people. I didn’t go with anything in mind—I mainly went just to help Courtney out, since it sucks to go to new, unusual stuff like that alone. But when one woman came up to me and asked if I wanted prayer, I asked her to pray for my depression and anxiety issues (and the resulting sleeplessness that either results from or causes it), specifying that I wasn’t dealing with it at that moment, but that it was an ongoing thing in my life. I told two more women the same thing.
(I knew that, as I was entering a new phase in my life [namely, Post-First-Novel-Publishing], I was likely going to be beset by doubt and anxiety and feelings of failure and self-loathing and all that other wonderful stuff that enters my head when it seems like I’ve got too much of a good thing going.)
To describe the exact effects that each of these women said over me is beyond my personal boundary for what I share here, but trust me that it was beautiful. They didn’t ask for specifics, and I didn’t offer any, but each prayer was just what I needed to receive and to hear: prayers to combat lies that get implanted in my head, prayers to be surrounded by encouraging people, prayers to give myself over to God and live in the knowledge that I belonged to him.
Sitting in a chair nearby, I saw that Courtney was also receiving prayer from other women in the ministry (there were men there too, but the prayers and prayer receivers were same-sex). Shortly before we left, we sat together and prayed for each other. (Difficult for me, as I equate praying aloud with public speaking, and thus am terrified of it.) There was no miraculous beam of light from the ceiling and Courtney wasn’t immediately healed, but both of us felt encouraged and loved and Spirit-filled, which must have been what we needed at the time.
In the car on the way back, Courtney and I talked about the series of events that led us to that moment, and apparently it all came down to Thursday night, when I decided to obey God and go to small group when I didn’t feel like it. Because otherwise Courtney wouldn’t have gone to the prayer session without my saying I’d go with her and drive, and I wouldn’t have been there even to hear about it in the first place.
It was God’s awesomeness at work in me, and not my own awesomeness, that made it happen. But I’m a broken, effed-up, horrible human being, and God still lets me share in his awesomeness. And that’s the greatest privilege of all.
In the end, not only did we get prayer, but God gave me specific moments to look back on and see the Spirit working in me. And it amuses me how creepy that may sound, but I have said before that God is kind of a creeper sometimes.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. ~Psalm 27:13-14