I know I have said many times I do not believe in coincidences. I do, however, believe in God-incidences. I believe we go through trials and tribulations in our lives for many different reasons, and I do wholeheartedly believe that sometimes that reason is another person. Someone needs to watch us go through something, or we need that experience in order to help someone else.
Don’t misunderstand my words — I do NOT wish to experience bad things to help others. And I am not glad I have gone through what I have gone through, but I have been able to pull some good out of it.
I have met some incredible people on my journey through divorce, many of whom I would not otherwise have met. There have been some amazing people who have helped me along the way, and others that I have helped.
I also believe God puts us in the exact place we are needed, at an exact moment in time when we can have the most impact.
For instance, I have a little story to tell you…
I was not raised in the church. I began going to church when I was married and a mom of a soon-to-be high schooler. So I was very nervous when I first began. Having never been to church, I had no idea what to expect. I started at a church that was just right for me, kind of big so I could be a fly on the wall when I wanted or needed to be , and also many people to help me when I needed or wanted it. As I grew more comfortable with attending church, I looked for more ways to be involved and meet people. I volunteered in children’s ministry for many, many years. And my then husband and I signed up for “CLASS 101– Getting to Know Your Church.” In this class, we met a nice couple that invited us to attend their “Friends Group.” The couple explained it was along the lines of bible study with a small group of couples. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous to go the first time. Remember, I did not know the Bible. I hardly even knew any children’s Bible stories! I was terrified they would ask me to read all those words I couldn’t pronounce, or answer a question that I had no idea what they would be talking about, or the biggest one, PRAY and pray out loud. I had no idea how to pray, not even to myself inside my head where only I and GOD could hear.
Now, fast forward about 4 years. I am a member of the church I mentioned above; I still belong to that “Friends Group;” I still volunteer in children’s ministry; and I am still terrified of praying out loud in front of anyone.
A good friend of mine and my boss at a job I once had has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She has asked for prayer. I pray for her daily (to myself, inside my head.) I add to our prayer list at church, and of course, our Friends Group are all praying for her. A Pastor from our church contacts my friend and offers to anoint her with oil. It is all set up; there are about 10 or so of us in attendance. As prayers are said, you squeeze the person’s hand next to you, letting them know you are done and they can begin. If you don’t want to pray, you simply squeeze the hand of the person on the other side of you so they can begin. It is the same process we use in our Friends Group, so I am very familiar. The prayers being said for my friend are so endearing. There are tears being shed. As I feel a squeeze to my right hand, my left hand prepares to squeeze the hand it is holding, only there is a hesitation and instead of a squeeze, words start coming out of my mouth. Not in my head, but audibly out of my mouth!
First time for everything, right?
Fast forward another 13 years. I am still a member and regular attender at the same church. We now call our weekly groups “Life Groups,” and although I no longer regularly volunteer in children’s ministry, I am very involved with our church. I am still very self-conscious and uncomfortable praying out loud in front of anyone. I have done it, at our dinner table, out to dinner with friends, a one-on-one with someone, and yes, even occasionally in our Life Group. There are those who pray, and it just flows right from God out their mouth, it sounds amazing; and then there is me!
I have been told I am way too critical of myself.
All of that to give you a bit of background to tell you this story. Our church offers every week for you to pray with a prayer partner immediately following the service. Elders, Pastors and Prayer Partners line up in the front of the worship center and you can go up and seek prayer or share a praise. A few times a year, this is offered during the service, the same procedure, only the worship team is on stage singing and the worship center is full. The leaders of our first ever Friends Group are Prayer Partners (amazing prayer warriors) and I see them up there often praying with people. Occasionally, there is an overwhelming response, and there are lines of people waiting to pray with someone. In these cases, some staff will be asked to come up and pray with people to help ease the wait for those in line. This has happened numerous times to my now-husband, as he is on staff at our church. I am always very proud that he does this, something I would be so very uncomfortable doing.
Well, God works in such amazing amazing ways. As I started this blog well over a year ago now, God has guided many of my posts. I know that he has placed me in the path of several people when they needed a lifeline. Well HE was at it again this past weekend. As we sat in a packed house at church, this was a week that prayer was being offered during the service. Lines formed down each of the aisles as we sang our praises along with the worship band. Along the front of the stage, there were 10-12 Elders, Pastors and Prayer Partners. Well into the second song, the lines are still running 8 to 10 deep. So I see the assistant to our Head Pastor motioning my husband. I nudge him a little and point to the assistant and he begins to step from our row to head to the front. As he is moving, the assistant is still motioning and now she is pointing at, as I look all around, me. Me, me? Who, me? Yes, she shakes her head and gives us the signal meaning both of you come up here. YIKES, is she crazy?!
I am beyond nervous, but feel I can just stand and listen as my hubby prays for whomever the assistant sends to us. Oh no, you guessed it, she separates us and sends us each a person!
Uh, what to do, what to do.
It is loud as we are right by the stage, but I reached out and take the woman’s hand as she approaches me, she leans close and tells me what’s on her heart and what she would like prayer for. And this is how I know it is a God-incident. Without going into detail, she needs prayer for something I have experienced, something I blog about, something I mentor others through. I hold her hand and hug her shoulder as she begins to cry, and I know as I open my mouth what will come out, not anything I know or can say, but 100% of what God wants her to hear.
As the words flow, she cries and hugs tighter. As we finish, she ends with a tight hug, a small smile, and walks away into the crowd. As I look in the direction of the assistant, the lines are gone and I am excused back to my seat. Was I praying that long, you say? No, but God only needed me for that one person at that one moment. Amazing!
Will I volunteer the next time? Uh, probably not; still don’t think it is my calling. But I do know that if God needs me for that one person, for that one moment, you bet I will be there.
Can I pray for you? Something troubling you? Send me a note and I will lift in prayer. It might not be eloquent or beautiful but it will certainly be heartfelt.
photo credit: Jimmy Wright