For a while now, I've had this deep longing to see that God has used me to affect someone's life. Let's call it what it is -- selfish. It is. I know.
I mean I know God has used me to affect a number of lives, especially in places that I've taken mission trips to like Arlington, Tex., New Orleans, La., and Honduras. But in my own vain conceit, those are just people that God intended for me to touch. So I thought.
(If this seems weird as you are reading, no worries. It's even more weird to read what my hands are typing as I write it. At this point, I'm just letting my heart do the talking.)
But lately, I've been wondering if God had used me in the lives of people that I had actually built strong relationship with. Long-time friends. Co-workers. People I went to high school and college with. Old flames (yikes).
For several years now, I've pleaded with God to show me some glimpse of the work that he had done through me. Up until now, I never knew that he wasn't showing me because he wanted me to see what he was doing in my life first.
I mentioned in this post that I wrote earlier in the week that I "ugly cried" in church on Sunday. And as I said, it was definitely God-prompted. My dad asked me why I "ugly cried" and I (jokingly) told him that I got the Holy Spirit and He prompted me to cry. But in a weird way, I think I was telling the truth. If you've been reading my blog for the past month, you know I've been struggling with some things that I've chalked up to "obedience issues". I've been feeling a little out of the loop in my little 25-year-old world, very unattached in my realm of community (friendship and church community not neighborhood community) and have felt a tug to do something that would completely take me out of my comfort zone but would be more fulfilling personally and spiritually.
Sunday, our pastor was talking about spiritual community and the fact that we should be able to share the burdens we have with our brothers and sisters in the faith family and know that they are there to support us in anything, if only through prayer.
I, of course, started thinking of people that I knew who were going through trying times and knew that I should pray for them, but then something happened.
(At this point, I should probably mention that I usually sit by myself in church because I'm consistently about four minutes late and can't find my friends or because I think that if I sit by myself, I'm less prone to be distracted. This particular Sunday, I started out by myself, until a new friend asked to join me. I welcomed her with open arms.)
You know, when I said that the Holy Spirit came upon me? Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure He came and sat in the chair next to me and whispered in my ear.
For the third part of the sermon (there were three parts to the sermon in which Aaron Keyes lead worship in between parts), I seriously wrestled with the Holy Spirit. He kept telling me that I'm not the one that should be thinking of people to pray for. I mean I am, but not right now. He kept telling me I have a burden that's pretty big that I should ask people to pray for. That there was no shame in asking people to pray for me, because the burden that I think is "no big deal" is still something that I shouldn't have to sort through on my own.
Somewhere after that, our pastor asked people to stand up who were dealing with certain burdens whether they be sickness, sin, divorce, obedience, or if we were wrestling with God about what direction our life was going in. And after those people stood up, the people around them would gather and pray for that person. At this point, the Holy Spirit and I had words. It went a little something like this...
HS: Katie, that's you.
Katie: It sooo is not. I don't have any burdens. I'm not physically sick, I'm totally not dealing with a divorce, no one close to me has died recently. I'm not grieving or in pain or whatever.
HS: Yeah, but you're carrying a burden still. Stand up.
Katie: No. It's not even that big of a deal.
HS: Stand up.
At this point, and I'm not even lying, God somehow raised me up out of my seat. Without my permission.
And the water works commenced.
And the sweet friend sitting next to me, put her hand on my shoulder and started praying. And then I felt another hand on the other shoulder. And another on my back. And another. And another. And another.
At that point, I cried out (silently of course), "God just show me what you want me to do. I want to know that I'm affecting people's lives. Put me in a place where you'll allow that to happen."
And then He showed up. And He showed me something that I've never seen before.
Starting Sunday night. And the showing hasn't stopped.
In the past five days, God has brought people back into my life to show me what He has done, and get this, WITHOUT ME.
Years ago, God placed people in my life that He wanted me to build relationships with and start praying for. And I did. Faithfully. Even when those relationships seemed to crumble to dust.
Through those relationships, God planted a seed. Some seeds I thought were doomed from the beginning but God proved me wrong. He used me for a part of his plan but then I realized this week that I'm not the only person that God can use.
God showed me this week that He is the God of Restoration. And although he chooses to use me in certain situations, he doesn't need me at all to accomplish His will. And that gives me more of an appreciation of the fact that I can be called His daughter who is allowed to be a part of the restoration that He is doing.
I'm not sure any of this made sense but I'm sure that I needed to write this down.
"But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:5-6
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently...Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."