Here is a simple kingdom mathematics problem:
What does going about a regular day + compassion + risk + failure + following the way of love in encouraging others + healings + date night for 15 year anniversary with a beautiful wife + Holy Spirit encounters + words of knowledge + deliverance from demons equal? Normal Christian living for ordinary people! The kingdom of God is at hand no matter what. We simply look, listen, and respond out of the commissioning of his call. All these things listed above happened yesterday. Here are some of the stories.
I want to not only share the powerful encounters of healing but also the risks and failures. Today was a combination of all that. I was at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen for a check-up when I saw a man come in who was in tremendous pain. He had just come from the ER and was trying to get an appointment so he could get some pain meds for his back. The pain could be seen in his stance and heard in his voice. I overheard the nurse tell him she didn’t think they could get him in. My heart was stirred with compassion for the man, and I jumped up thinking maybe I could try to help. They told him to sit down and just wait while they tried to work him in. I prayed, Lord, please don't let them call me back for my appointment just yet.
I walked to the gentleman and said, “Hey, could you come over here with me for a moment,” directing him to a hallway where we would have a little more privacy. “I know you’re in pain, and I might be able to help.” He asked who I was, and I replied that I'm a pastor. (Yes, I played the pastor card, which is very rare for me. I did it this time only because I felt he wouldn’t have responded otherwise.) “I want to pray for you. Let’s get this pain out of your body.”
As I prayed for him, nurses were walking past us with curious and uncertain stares. I continued praying, commanding the pain to go. I asked him if anything was happening, and he didn’t notice any difference. I prayed some more, and meanwhile a nurse came near and glared at us. I asked her, “Do you need me or him?”
“No, I need you. The doctor is ready to see you.”
“OK, I will be right there.”
“You need to come now or you might lose your appointment.”
“OK, I’m just trying to help this man. He’s in pain, and I’m praying for him.”
“Sir,” she replied with frustration, “the doctor will help him.”
“OK, give me just a second and I’ll be right there.” The nurse turned around and walked away, obviously put off. I went back to praying for the man one last time, and still no change in his pain. I could tell he needed to go sit down, and he thanked me, even hugging me.
I returned to where the nurse was stationed and apologized to her. “I’m sorry. I had to at least try and help that man.”
“Well,” she said with exasperation, “I don’t think you are going to get in now!” I told her that would be fine if necessary.
Just then another one of the nurses called me into my exam room. Before I followed her back, I went over to the first nurse, flashed a big smile, gently put my hand on her shoulder and said, “I’m sorry. Thank you so much for doing your job and trying to help me.”
I had stepped out in compassion and risked looking foolish and did in front of some discouraging onlookers. I saw no visible sign of healing in the man but he was touched by my compassion and attempts to help.
We are to follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1). We are to look, listen, and respond to heaven and to the needs if others. We might miss it, fail, and look foolish, but if we are too scared to fail we will never see the kingdom advance and people touched.
I would have loved for that man to have been totally healed on the spot for his sake and to declare another victory of darkness being pushed back, but that wasn't the case. This time, the darkness being pushed back was my own fear of failure and looking foolish while instead a boldness and compassionate love empowered my heart. The kingdom of God is still at hand no matter what.
Face it, the reason we are afraid to risk is because there is a very real chance we will fail and nothing will happen. So we need to just accept the fact that there will be failures. No one can bat 1000, and we gradually grow into every gifting and skill. While some would say that there’s no room for failure, in reality our failures can become our greatest learning moments.
We just love on people as we go, practice doing that better, and press in for more so more people can be touch by the goodness of God’s love!
The second encounter:
After leaving the doctor’s office downtown, I noticed a lady walking by the side of the road and my heart just felt drawn to her. I sensed a vague impression that she had some pain, and I thought maybe it was physical. I wondered how I could approach her. After all, a stranger downtown pulling up to a lady is always awkward and potentially dangerous. I pulled up next to her and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, but do you have pain in your neck or back or anywhere in your body?” She said she didn’t.
Wow, I thought to myself, failure number two! I realized that my perspective was cynical and decided to change my mind. Instead of becoming discouraged or cowering down, I continued. “Sometimes God gives me stuff for people. I couldn't tell if it was physical pain or emotional pain. I just felt God’s heart for you.”
“It’s emotional pain,” she said.
“Well, God wants you to know you are not forgotten. He knows what's going on in your life, and he loves you. He went out of his way to tell a strange guy driving by to stop you and tell you this.”
She lost it and began to weep. I kept telling her how much God loved her and he was near and that he was going to comfort her. The tears continued to flow as I asked if I could see her hand. She gave it to me and I prayed for more of the love of God on her as she kept weeping. I shared a few prophetic words the Lord gave me about her life and family, then I prayed more of the love and comfort of Jesus.
After a moment, I asked her if she was trying to get somewhere. She was heading to the downtown library, which was blocks away in this 100 degree weather. I told her that if she felt completely comfortable with it, I would be more than happy to give her a ride. “Oh yes, thank you! I will take you up on that offer.” As we drove to the library, she shared more of her life, and I kept speaking hope, love and encouragement into her life, telling her how much God loves her. She was weeping even more. She opened up more. “I was so mad at God. I thought he had left me. Now, I know he loves me and he’s not mad at me and hasn’t forgotten me.” We pulled up to the library, and as she stepped out of the car she said, “I just want to smile! I haven't wanted to smile in years! I don't think I can quit smiling! I can't wait to tell my family what happened today.” She was blown away by God’s gentle and powerful love that was seeking her out. As I left, I told her, “There’s a great church downtown called Frontline. They have a great community of people who would love to help you if ever need anything.”
I headed over to Frontline to see Matt Burrell and the other Frontline staff, just to say hi. I also met Matt’s friend, Erin, who was at the church volunteering on some projects. I thought I had a word of knowledge for her about a neck and back issue, but I was wrong. Missed it again! Just as I was fighting the discouragement, Matt told me that Mary, the church receptionist, was having pain like that. Just that moment, Mary walked around the corner into Matt's office, grunting in pain. I asked her what was wrong.
“My neck and back have been killing me,” she replied.
“Hey, could I pray for you a second?”
I interviewed her a little, and she said her pain was about at an eight level. It had been that way over a week. She said she was always in pain, whether she walks, sits, or bends. I grabbed Erin and said to her, “Hey, you’re going to help get Mary healed!” I told her to put her hand on Mary’s back and to tell the pain to go away. After this short prayer, Mary said the pain decreased to a level four. Erin and I continued to pray several times like this, and eventually all the pain was gone.
Mary was bending down, touching her toes, putting her hands flat on the ground in front of her, twisting, moving, and walking around. “No more pain! I really couldn’t do all this. There’s no more pain!”
The kingdom of God is at hand, even when you’re the church lady Much love to Mary!
Then I was off to meet my bride to celebrate our 15th anniversary. My wife looked smokin’ hot and I always look pretty good myself! We were off to a romantic dinner at a little Italian place Jeanine loves. It was a great dinner, complete with an anniversary serenade from the lounge singer. We were joking, laughing, and having a great time. Our plan was then to go to a movie, but before we left the restaurant I said, “Hey, they’re having a service at City Rescue Mission tonight. It has already started but do you want to stop by?” I hadn’t been to CRM in months, though I used to go weekly. I love praying for the people there because God’s love comes so powerfully on the truly broken people there. Jeanine said if that’s what I wanted to do, we could catch the later movie. I love my wife! She was willing to spend part of our 15-year anniversary date downtown at the homeless shelter praying for the sick. That’s romantic to my ears! (By the way, our very first date was to a healing revival meeting.)
As soon as we walked into the chapel service at CRM, I saw a friend of mine, Jordan, and started praying for him. Next thing I know, he's on the floor by the power of the Holy Spirit. A lady walked past me, and I felt an impression for healing for her back. I asked her if she had back pain, and she said with amazement, “How did you know that?!”
I replied, “God knows, and he wants to heal you.” I interviewed her about her pain, and she said it was a 7 out of 10.
After praying a short prayer, she exclaimed, “Wow! That really worked! There’s just a little pain left, maybe a 2.”
“Well, if it can go from a 7 to a 2, let’s see if it can go to a 0.” I prayed again, and the pain completely left. She was shocked and smiling big, saying, “Thank you, Jesus!”
My friend, Shane, who was leading the service, asked if I had any words of knowledge for healing. I did, so he brought me up on stage and I shared a few. A number of people responded, and I prayed and told the pain, sickness and infirmity to go. I asked for people to wave their hands if they knew they were completely healed, and several people reported instant healing. Then I invited anyone else who didn’t receive healing but needed it, or anyone who wanted any prayer to come forward for the team to pray with them. Shane’s crew along with Jeanine and I began praying for the many people who came forward.
There were lots of healings, Holy Spirit impartations, and deliverances happening. It was crazy fun! Kingdom of God stuff was breaking in all around. I could tell you story after story, but then this FB post would be a book and it’s already really long.
People just kept wanting prayer. Jeanine and I were the last ones there, and God was rocking people with his presence and power. Afterward, we headed over to hang out with the crew from the service at a restaurant downtown. Still more healing and deliverance stuff was happening. Eventually, Jeanine and I headed out to a late movie. It was a great way to end a heaven-on-earth day! There was no better way to spend our anniversary.
Remember the kingdom of God is at hand no matter what. We just have to simply look, listen, and respond. Live it with love and power!