Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

Many times in my Christian walk, God has placed me outside of my comfort zone.  He does this to bring spiritual growth and to use me in ways that are greater than I could ever imagine.  Whether it be a prompting to offer to pray for someone or to take on a new responsibility, I am often challenged to obey and trust God in each instance.  Sometimes I feel as though I am going out on a limb, but God does not let me fall, if I am walking in obedience to him.

Just the other day, I was speaking to a friend about a recent offer to pray for someone's healing.  A woman I knew seemed to be experiencing a serious medical issue right in front of me, and only one other person was in the room with us.  She sat very still, as she began to perspire.  Her face turned beet red, and her heart was racing.  I felt very helpless and questioned whether we should seek medical assistance.  The only other option I had was to pray for her.  Because I wasn't sure if she was a believer or how she would react to my offer to pray, I hesitated for a moment.  Would it be awkward or embarrassing, if she refused?  Would she think I was some religious nut?

However, I realized that God wanted me to offer to pray, and so I did.  She nodded her head in agreement when I asked, and I prayed out loud for God to heal her in the name of Jesus and for her body to line up with the Word of God.  As I was praying, I felt a warmth and knew that God was working in her situation.  I commented, "I don't know exactly what happened, but I believe God is doing something in you."  Fifteen days later, I saw her again, and she excitedly shared the details of a miraculous healing.  After months of suffering from a variety of medical problems, her CAT scan had come back completely normal.  In addition, she had experienced none of the troubling symptoms since the night we had prayed together.  I rejoiced with her and was thankful that I did not give in to my initial reluctance to pray.

I was nearly 20 when God first told me to minister to someone for healing.  At the time, I was attending a bible study with some girls in my dorm at Evangel University.  One of the girls was experiencing terrible back pain from muscle spasms, and someone prayed a prayer over her that seemed hollow and empty.  She had meant well, but it came across like she was throwing up a prayer that she didn't expect to be answered: "Lord, please touch her, if you've got the time."  I thought to myself, "We aren't ministering to her."

When the bible study was over, we were having a time of silent prayer, and God spoke to me, "Marcia, I want you to minister to Bev's back."  I tried to argue with God and tell him that I wasn't a minister.  My dad was a minister, and my brother was going to be a minister.  How could God ask me to minister to someone?  Finally, God gently and firmly told me, "Marcia, if you'll minister to Bev's back, I'll heal her."

How could I continue to refuse?  If I didn't obey God's prompting, then it would be my fault that my friend was continuing to be in pain.  Nervously, I asked Bev how her back was feeling, while inwardly I prayed, "Please say that you were miraculously healed from the earlier prayer."

Instead, she replied, "It's still hurting."  I gulped and launched into telling her that although I had never done anything quite like this before, I had seen my dad minister to people with back pain, and I wanted to offer to minister to her back.  I prayed for her and commanded her back to be healed in the name of Jesus.  When she sat down in a chair, we could see that her hips were out of alignment and one leg was about a half-inch shorter than the other leg.  As the other girls in the room and I prayed, everyone saw a miracle, as the shorter leg lengthened.  Afterwards, Bev reported that all the pain was gone.  She began jumping up and down, and everyone else did also, as we praised God.

Sometimes when I share stories of obedience and answered prayer, others assume that it always comes easy to me, but they would never feel comfortable doing such a thing themselves.  They hear the victory at the end at the end of my story, but they don't realize the tendency I have to drag my feet until I can no longer ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Others tell me that they do not know how to hear God's voice.  Listening takes practice.  When a thought comes to you that does not seem to be coming from you, test it against scripture.  Does it line up with the Word of God?  Does it ring true in your heart?  If so, then you are probably hearing from God.

"Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him." (Psalm 128:1, NIV)

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