My friend Kim and I walked into the familiar room of about 25 ladies eagerly seeking freedom from drugs and alcohol. They had assembled for our once-a-month Bible study, one that always jolts our hearts with joy. Newcomers eyed us timidly. Old-timers smiled and greeted us warmly.
Whenever we stand in front of a group, it’s their eyes that let us know when we’ve struck a nerve.
As we talked about reasons to praise God, several eyes throughout the room frequently filled with emotion, threatening to spill over. The Holy Spirit moved heart by heart throughout the room. I prayed silently, but mightily, for Him to take over like only He can.
He never disappoints.
Since I became convicted last year about making sure that we never leave those women without laying out the gospel and emphasizing their need for Jesus, I did my best to do that. We offered them the opportunity to come to us for prayer when we concluded. It could be any kind of prayer – one of surrender or one for a very specific need.
Needless to say, we had the honor of praying for several women that night for many reasons. I’m always humbled by the things these women have endured.
One young lady had been writing all during our time together as a way of processing what she was hearing. She brought what she’d written and read it to me. I asked her if I could take a picture of it so that I could share it with you today. Her smile nearly swallowed her face as she replied, “Oh, yes! Please!” Here is a portion of what she and the Spirit penned together:
“No matter what I’ve been through or where I’ve been, look at how God worked from then to now. Look at my life now! God works in good ways. If He brought me out of those situations, He can bring me out of this one. God got me right where He wants me. I could have been dead or in prison, but that wasn’t a part of God’s plans. I always cried when times got hard and things got rough, but asking and praying for help was the best thing I could have ever done. Be specific about what you ask God for. This was my way out. This is the help God knew I needed because I can’t do it on my own. My story and my problems can help somebody else, just like somebody else’s problems and stories are helping me now.”
Wow! Her words filled my eyes with emotion. She gets it. She knows that her circumstances have made her stronger and she knows now exactly where her help comes from. She understands her purpose in life is to help others by sharing all God’s done for her.
I’m sharing this with you to remind you how powerful your stories can be. Nothing frustrates me more than someone who loves God, but doesn’t want to share any specifics about what He’s done for them. I hope you know we are ALL hot messes. We ALL need God to cool us off and straighten things out. I need to learn from your mess and you need to learn from mine. Only then, can we celebrate all He does for us. Only then, can we douse our hot pride with some cool humility.
After praying with our new writing friend, a woman with streams of tears running down her cheeks walked up to me. I had watched her eyes throughout the night. They were troubled and teary. A solemn expression slid down her face about as far as it could slide without falling into her lap. When she walked up to me we exchanged a warm hug as she whispered in my ear, “I’m ready!” I loved hearing her say, she was finally ready to let God have control of her life.
No doubt the Spirit had been working on her for a while, but He blessed me by allowing me to witness her most significant moment of surrender. What an encourager He is!
As we left, Kim and I talked with our new sister once more. We watched her eyes. She wore a new expression of peace that was unmistakably Spirit-sent! Her eyes sparkled with pure joy. If God can do that so quickly on her outside, just imagine what He did on her inside!
I’m praying that the Spirit in this new year will teach each of us to feel more deeply, share more freely, and watch the eyes of others more closely. Please join me in believing that our 2020 eyes will be filled with an indescribable, inexpressible, and glorious joy!
Next week I’ll be sharing my new word for the year. I hope you’ll have yours ready to share. 2020 will be a monumental year – no matter what!
Happy New Year!