This morning an AT&T customer service agent gets healed from multiple problems in his body. He kept asking me, “How are you doing this magic?” He was healed, literally felt a hand on his back, and felt the presence of God go through his entire body and bring healing. I had the opportunity to explain that this wasn’t magic but the presence of Jesus knocking on the door of his heart to bring him into relationship with Jesus. He was so overwhelmed that he gave his life to Jesus over the phone! I know this post is long, but I promise it’s worth the read. If you take the time to read it, not only will it encourage you that the kingdom of God is always at hand, but my hope is always to share the process with you so that people can be trained in how to hear and respond to the voice of God, no matter what situation you find yourself in – even a frustrating one!
We've been having issues again with our AT&T internet and TV. I'm a graphic designer, so when my internet is down or having issues, it affects my business. This morning, it was acting up, and I had files that I needed to get to my customer. I was getting frustrated and I knew I was going to have to make that a call to AT&T and it was going to take a good chunk of time that I didn't have. Frustrated, I picked up the phone to call knowing, there was a good chance they would say, “Sorry, we will have to send out a technician.”
As I was calling, I had this slight impression maybe this will be a kingdom encounter. Then I felt I heard a name and four conditions. They were so fleeting, and to be honest I wasn't sure I wanted to even go there. I needed my internet issues fixed, but I settled my self down enough to at least not lash into the customer care agent that would pick up the phone. The name I heard was a woman's name—Martha—but the customer care agent who answered was a man, so I thought, OK, either missed it or maybe this guy is connected to the name and the conditions I was feeling. It was hard to discern when it was being filtered through frustration and an anxiousness to get this call over and my service fixed so I could upload my files to my client.
I’ve been trying to learn to hear God’s voice in these frustrating situations. It's so easy to lash out on the customer care agent when it's taken forever to get you through to a real live person and when your pressed for time and knowing this issue might take along time to get resolved. I wish I could say I've been sanctified in this area of dealing with internet issues and customer care agents, but I'm working at it.
Also I've found it pays to be kind—the agent is just doing their best to serve you and help you resolve your issue. So when the my At&T customer care agent, Manning, answered the phone I was able to communicate in a kind way, fighting back the tension and frustration. On top of that, I was thinking, what if you miss the impressions and your internet doesn't get resolved. This could end up being bad.
Manning made it easy though. He was super helpful and caring and doing an excellent job of trying to serve me as a customer, so my frustration lessened. It still took along while, but these kinds of things always do. Manning’s attitude and determination to help eased the time issue as well. Well, thank God Manning was able to fix the issues and my internet was working again!
Before getting off the phone, I said, “Manning, can I ask you a question and share something with you?”
Now before you think being full of faith means you don't have to fight through issues of doubt, let me assure you that is hardly ever the case in my situations. Did I hear right? Am I just making this stuff up? What if nothing happens? These questions were swirling the whole time I conjured the courage to get the question out of my mouth. These are all normal and part of the process. After 20 years, I still battle these things and wonder if I take that step of risk and get out of the boat of my own comfort, will I sink or will I walk on water? It's only been over time and lots of practice taking those risks that have I discovered that taking those risks and obeying Jesus often opens the door to the impossible to a kingdom encounter. I've also learned if I say nothing, then guess what? Nothing will happen. And if I say something and nothing happens, at least I was putting my faith into practice.
I also know by experience that there is always tension, struggle, or opposition / war from the enemy, trying to feed me full of doubt so I don't take that step of faith in love. This can be a helpful indication you’re on to something when all that stuff is swirling inside your mind. Opposition is often a sign that the kingdom of God is about to break in.
Also, so what if we step out and nothing seems to happen, or you miss it on a word or impression, or the person doesn't receive it? Know this: the Kingdom has come! That's what happened to the disciples when Jesus sent them to one village and no one received them. Jesus said, “Know this! The kingdom has come. Shake yourself off and keep going.”
The truth really is that God is always at work, and our job is to relationally join him in his work. Sometimes that looks like planting a seed, or watering truth in someone's heart, or seeing the harvest unfold right in front of your eyes. It's all kingdom, and success in the kingdom is obedience—taking that step of faith, dying to yourself, feeling and looking at times foolish. But remember, isn't that what Jesus did? He died on the cross, beaten and half naked, marred beyond recognition. That looked foolishness and defeat to the world and the enemy, but His death became our resurrection. What appeared to be his foolishness became our healing and forgiveness and brought us into righteousness and relationship with the Father. Looking foolish is part of deal when stepping out in risk. If the father allowed Jesus to look foolish by dying on a cross, then what makes us think we won't feel or be looked at as fools. Like Wimber used to say, “I'm a fool for Christ. Who's fool are you?” What looks like foolishness to the world just might be the way of salvation and healing to the world.
Back to the end of the call with Manning. I said, “Is it OK to share with you something and to ask you a question?”
“Yes, sure,” he replied.
“Manning, sometimes I get pictures or impressions about people's lives and about conditions they are physically having. It's a gift but I don't always operate 100% in that gifting. I'm growing in it, so sometimes I hear clearly, and sometimes I miss it. I'm not a psychic either. Do any of the following things make since to you? Manning, do you have issues in the very lower part of your back just below the belt line, and are you having issues with your neck, right shoulder, and right part of your jaw? Also, does the name Marsha mean anything significant to you?”
I held my breath and pushed past my knocking knees and butterflies in my stomach while Manning paused. Then Manning said in a surprised and curious voice, “Well Brian, that's very interesting. I have a pain in my back just like you mentioned in the place you mentioned and in the neck as well. But my shoulder and jaw are fine. And I don't know a Marsha.”
I said, “OK, thanks! I'm still learning to grow in this gift. I'm glad your shoulder and jaw are OK, and I just felt like I heard the name Marsha. It appears I missed it on those.”
Often we will be tempted to focus on the things we didn't hear right. Don't worry about that. It's like the postman who delivers your mail, and he accidentally drops off someone else’s mail in your box along with your mail. You don't get mad at the mailman, and you don't get upset that you have someone else’s mail. You just say that's not mine, and then you put your attention to the mail you did receive. It's the same thing. You might have picked up on a word for someone later in the day, or it just might be some junk mail. So you discard it and don't get frustrated. You just focus on the correct mail for the person.
So that's what I did for Manning. I said, “Are you in pain and discomfort in your lower back and neck now?” He said yes, he was. If he had said no, I would have still asked if I could pray for him and asked Jesus for a sign to be felt in those areas as a sign the Lord is going to heal them. When they experience a sign of the presence of God in the form of spiritual phenomena like heat, tingling, or electricity, it gets their attention and opens the door to their heart to hear the message of the gospel. If nothing had happened at all, I would thank the person for their time and for letting me try to practice hearing from God. I'm still learning. This is true whether you just started or you've been doing it for 20 years. We are always learning and growing, and our identity is not in the gift or in missing it. It's in the relationship with Jesus. We are just learning and growing and practicing the presence every time. It's not failure when we miss it. It's only failure when we don’t take that step of risk / faith.
Manning was responding to the back and neck pain, so I said, “Manning, on a scale from 1 to 10, give me a number for the pain or discomfort you are feeling in your back and neck.” He said his back was a 7 and his neck was a 4. I asked, “Would you know if the pain left?” Manning said he would. “OK, great Manning,” I continued. “Would you like for the pain to leave right now?” Manning eagerly replied yes.
“Manning, it's going to leave right now.” I prayed, “Holy Spirit, would you come upon Manning now? All pain, go right now out of his back and neck. Manning, you are going to experience a warm heat and a tingling presence come into your body right now.” Then immediately I said, “Manning, look for the pain. Move around and tell me what you’re experiencing.”
Manning said, “So you want me to move around?”
“Yes, look for that pain.”
“OK, I'm doing that right now.” With an excited tone in his voice, Manning said, “Brian, how did you do that magic? The pain is all the way gone.”
“Manning, it's not magic. I will tell you what this is in a minute, but I want you to move some more. Really look for that pain.”
Manning was moving all around looking for the pain, but he couldn't find it. “It's gone! Brian, how do you do this magic?”
“It's not magic,” I replied. “I'll tell you in just a minute. That's amazing that the pain is gone in your back. Now what about your neck?”
“Oh, it's so much better!”
“OK great! Give me a number. Does great mean a 0 and it's gone?”
“Oh no, there’s still some pain, but its so much better.” I asked him for a number, and he was it was down to a two. “When I move my head to the left, it still hurts just a bit,” he explained.
“Thanks for letting me know. Now Manning, if the pain in your back can go from a 7 to 0 and your neck from a 4 to a 2, don't you think it could go all the way to a zero too?” I said this to Manning to help him recognize what has happening and to build my faith and his as well. Then I said, “Manning, the rest of that pain is going to go right now.” Then I prayed a quick simple prayer of command and said, “Pain go, muscles and tendons be relaxed, and all infirmity leave right now.”
Then I told Manning to move his neck again. In my mind I saw Manning rolling his neck and the pain would go. So I said, “When you move your neck, roll it from front to back and side to side.”
Manning rolled his neck and said again, “It’s gone! What kind of magic do you do?”
“Is the pain a zero,” I asked.
“Oh yes, it is!”
“Manning, it's not magic. I will tell you what this is. Do you want to know?”
“Yes, I do.”
I said, “OK, but first let me ask you one more question. Did you feel that warmth and heat over you?”
“Oh yes, I did! It was getting hot where was it was on my back.”
“What did it feel like?”
His answer blew it out of the water. “It felt like a hand on my back.”
Remember the kingdom of God is at hand! I said, “OK Manning, now I'm going to tell you what happened and who did this. Do you still want to know?”
“Oh yes, please tell me.”
“Manning, that hand you felt and the warmth was Jesus. You see Manning, I'm not a psychic or doing magic. I'm a Christian, and it was Jesus healing your body. I knew nothing about you or what was going on with you. You were simply answering a customer service call, doing your job, which you did a great job by the way. Thank you. As you are helping me doing your job Jesus shows up and tells me some things that you were dealing with that I couldn't have known. I missed a couple of things because I'm still learning to hear from Jesus, but this is a sign to you, Manning, that Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with you. He is getting your attention. He took your pain and His hand healed your body. And it was His presence you experienced. Manning, if Jesus can show up like that and heal your body, then what can he do in your heart and life?
“Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. He doesn't just want to heal you physically but spiritually and wants a personal relationship with you. He wants to come live inside your heart. Manning, do you want to receive Jesus into your heart for Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life?”
Manning with a tone of reality and awe said, “Yes, I want to make Jesus my lord and savior.”
“Great! Manning, let's pray.” Then I led Manning through a simple prayer inviting Jesus to come into his heart as he repeated after me. “Manning pray this with me. Jesus would you come into my heart? I open up the door and invite you to be my Lord and savior. Would you forgive me of all my sins and make me new on the inside? Jesus I want a relationship with you. Thank you for showing your love to me and making yourself real to me and healing my body. If you can do that, you can heal and change my heart and life. Thank you Jesus for inviting me into relationship with you. Amen.” When I said “amen,” he said “amen” with excitement!
I then said, “Manning, you are now a Christian. Jesus is the Lord and savior of your life. Welcome into the family!”
“Oh thank you so much Brian!”
Then I said, “Manning, I want to pray one more thing. I’m going to pray that the Holy Spirit comes as a sign to you that you know you are now a Christian.” Then I asked the Holy Spirit to come. “Manning, you’re going to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit like heat go through your whole body as that sign.”
“Brian,” Manning said, “I can feel it. I can feel that heat. It's going all through me.”
“That's the Holy Spirit,” I explained. “Now Manning if you can, find a good church. Get baptized and follow Jesus. He loves you my friend.”
“Oh Brian, I will do just that! I will find a church and get baptized. Thank you, thank you so much, Brian, for this.”
“Manning, you’re welcome. Thanks for helping me.”
Remember the kingdom of God is always at hand. The Holy Spirit is always presently active as we go about our day. And sometimes frustration and inconvenience could be an open door for a kingdom encounter. Our job is simply just to look, listen, and respond and put Jesus on display with love and power.
I always wonder what happens when the supervisor listens back over these calls. : )