#185 Praise and Purpose in Pain, Part 2

 Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

Does every girl grow up dreaming of reaching the stars? I sure did. From the tender age of two or three, I remember craning my head back, marveling at the night sky, and being awed by the beauty of God’s creation. As I grew I wondered about seeing His works from a new perspective, what it might be like to escape Earth’s atmosphere and explore all that vast space. Growing up I thought my path to the stars would be through NASA. As a freshman in high school, my parents took me to visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration campus where we met with people who gave us information about the steps of pursuing a career with them. My path and passion for space seemed to have a straight trajectory at that point, but what I didn’t know was that passion would be a shooting star, shining brightly, and falling quickly into darkness at the age of 15.

On June 7, 2017, Jacob, my 23-year-old brother, was in a car accident and tragically passed away. I was 15 years old at the time. The moment my brother died every desire to go to NASA dissipated. I was overcome with a deep need to fall into worship and into praise of the LORD who had created the heavens, who had given so lavishly to me, and who now had taken away. I felt myself drawn to my piano… 

So that you might fully understand the magnitude of this change, let me backup for a moment. 

Starting at age six, upon the prompting of my parents, I had unenthusiastically taken piano lessons. Learning to play was born out of duty and obligation simply because my parents wanted me to, not because of my own desire. I never sang and had no real interest in music.

In February 2017, a few months before Jacob’s death, I was in a youth group and they needed someone to play the keyboard. Because I was trained, I agreed to help. Shortly thereafter, the worship leader had an evening when she couldn’t sing and asked if I could fill in for her. I sang for the first time that evening, but again it was an act of service, not of passion. My worship was dutiful, not driven from the deep wells of my soul.

When Jacob died in June, all of that shifted. An intense need to call out to the LORD through song burst into life. Every moment of solitude after my brother’s death drew me to my piano. Worshipping God was the only thing I wanted to do. I didn’t play out of anger or frustration. No, I was never angry with God about losing my brother. I truly trusted Him with it. Yet, I was overcome with my need to talk to the LORD and nothing expressed it the way music did. The song that carried me away in praise during this painful time was “What a Beautiful Name” by

Hillsong. Since it was such a balm to my soul, my parents asked if I would be willing to sing it at Jacob’s funeral.

Until that point, my worship was a sacred space between only the LORD and myself. Agreeing to this request was letting those closest to me, and to Jacob, join in with the pain and the hope I was feeling. I had never sung for my extended family before, but when I sat down at the piano the day of the funeral, the Lord took all nervousness from me. He filled me with His melody and with new purpose. At that moment, I felt God’s call into a career in music. Just as my parents invited me to sing for Jacob, God was now extending His hand and inviting me to sing for Him.

Four months after Jacob’s death, with “What a Beautiful Name” still on my lips, I made a video of the song dedicated to my brother. The video reached many people, including a talent scout in Nashville who asked me to meet with him to share my story. Although unexpected, this turned out to be the first confirmation of my calling from the Lord. I went to Nashville in January of 2018 and met with a recording artist manager. I was overwhelmed with peace the day we met with him and I knew God was going to do something special, but I was only 16 years old and my family wanted to proceed cautiously.

Over the next year God gently guided me in this calling. He planted a seed in my heart the day Jacob died, and now I saw it growing slowly, delicately, and with such beauty. I was (and am) in awe of His guidance. As my family and I trusted him during this time, He faithfully showed us each step. I began working with the manager, took voice lessons, and even went to Nashville to put my thoughts and prayers to music. What an honor it was to work and praise alongside such talented Christian song writers! After that first big writing session, the LORD sent another

confirmation. Three Christian music labels contacted my manager to request meetings with me.

I met with them throughout the summer of 2019, in May, June, and July. Each time I was given the opportunity to talk with other believers, to meet with record label executives, and to explore the depths of my grief and the heights of my eternal hope through the songwriting process. In August, all three labels asked me to join their teams. After much prayer, I decided to accept the offer from Capitol records. I will be moving to Nashville in June 2020 and with their help will be releasing the songs that I have written. I look forward to the days ahead, to inviting others into that sacred space of worship. I can’t believe that the LORD has opened a way for me to lead others into praise. He is so worthy! I want God to get all of the glory in my story, in the hard parts and in the redemption.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered

a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

After he died, we found this verse in Jacob’s apartment, written in his own handwriting. We felt like he was talking directly to us and we have clung to this verse. Jacob was my best friend and I will always be heartbroken by his loss. But somehow in the midst of all of the pain, God has taken the deep crevices of my grief and let them run over with golden praise. I find myself wanting to be like the woman with the expensive alabaster jar, breaking it over Jesus and

anointing him with the most expensive thing I own, my own heart. God has given me a purpose, and that has been a great gift to me in this sorrow. I have learned about His faithfulness. I have learned that when God promises you something, He fulfills His promise. He does not let you down. When you choose to trust God, blessings come.

Thinking back to those childhood days when I had my life all planned, I can see that my desire to explore space and reach the stars was really a deep desire to grow close to the Father and to worship Him in a new way. He has provided that to me, just not on the path I expected. God took my longing for the stars and said–Look higher, child.

Look to the Creator of the stars.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one

and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.

27

Why do you complain, Jacob?

Why do you say, Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord;

my cause is disregarded by my God”?

28

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

29

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Isaiah 40:26-29

This is what I have found in this journey– my God is faithful. In my own weakness, He is strong. May my lips forever praise the name of the LORD!

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#149 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

God blessed me with a good foundation. I grew up in the church. My grandmother lived with us and we shared a bedroom. She knelt by her bed every night and prayed in a whisper. I could hear her as she prayed for the less fortunate and missionaries. I heard her pray in her prayer language. It was such a blessing, a real learning experience that I didn’t realize I was getting at the time. Mamaw would always help in any way she could. She stayed in the background but taught us how to help and what to do and how to do it. She was not only an example in prayer but also an example in her life. She never preached but her life preached.  

Growing up we went to church every Sunday. I gave my life to Christ at a holiness camp meeting when I was seven years old. Our family attended a very evangelistic church. I remember during church Mamaw waving her hanky and praying with tears streaming down her face. I would say, “Mamaw,” and tap her on the hand and she would say, “Shhh, you will break the Spirit.” 

God taught me many lessons through my grandmother—to be a servant without words. All those years ago in church, she cautioned me not to break the Spirit, and indeed God showed me the fruits of His Spirit working in her life. She was a woman of patience, kindness, and gentleness. She showed love to many people and showed remarkable peace and faith when she faced hardships. When her husband died, she had a graceful, calming presence in that storm. God also showed me the importance of perseverance and faithfulness through her life. If you continue your walk, your faith grows and God gives you the ability to serve in humility. 

Music is in our family. My mom was a singer and sang at almost every funeral, wedding, and revival in our county. My grandmother and I often attended. I am now the worship leader at our church for the first service. I play piano, lead the choir, and pick out the songs. Both of my daughters sing in the choir. I try to impress upon the choir that we aren’t just singing. I encourage them to see what the song means and to convey that message to the people in the congregation and bring them to a place of worshipping God. My favorite hymn is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” as I think that is the original praise and worship song.

I have experienced God’s faithfulness throughout my life. One particular time comes to mind. I had been working with a ministry and I would hear women give such emotionally gripping testimonies. I thought, “Oh Lord, please don’t make me do that.” But I was asked to give my testimony. I was scared to death. It was last minute—another speaker quit just before and they asked me to share. I turned it over to God and He was faithful. I can’t tell you what I said but He gave me the words. This and many other occasions have shown me that God is always faithful. 

I am thankful for my family, especially for my grandmother who was such an example and inspiration to me. I am thankful for the church of my childhood and the church I now attend, for the fellowship and encouragement of believers and for the opportunity to serve Him through music. God has been good to me and I am so grateful. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#143. Little Church by the Creek: A Billboard Message

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

In 1989, my future husband moved from Texas to the town in Indiana where I lived. I was working as a manager of Pizza Hut at the time and he applied for a job. I didn’t need to hire anyone but the waitresses thought he was cute so I ended up hiring him. We developed a friendship. He had hinted that he would like to date me but there was a no dating policy—so he filled out termination papers and said, “Now will you go out with me?” We went out and have never been apart since. 

We dated for a year and then decided to get married. Neither one of us were churched at that time. He had only been to church three times and I had never been to church with my family. I called a pastor of a church and felt a little bad asking to get married in their church. 

 I asked the pastor, “How do you come back to church?”

“Just walk through the doors.”

“What about this membership thing?”

“No, just walk through the doors.” 

We got married and were thrown into married life, trying to blend our lives. I had children from a previous marriage. God was not in our marriage at that point. We had never invited Him into our lives. We decided to go to a marriage counselor. I remember that on the way to an appointment with the counselor we prayed and asked for a sign if we should stay married. We were driving on the highway at the time and we passed this huge billboard that said, “Loved the wedding, now invite me to the marriage.” 

 -God

It just so happened that the marriage counselor was a Christian and he showed us the love of Jesus. He told us to go back to church, which we did immediately. We attended church regularly and got involved, volunteering with youth. There was a revival at our church and the guest pastor asked, “Do you have a fire for God?” My husband said, “I don’t even have a spark.” But God was working in the heart of my husband, and on the third night there was a transformational moment for my husband. He gave his life to the Lord that night. Two days later he went on an Emmaus walk, a weekend designed to parallel the Emmaus walk of the disciples on Easter. The combination of these two events was life changing. He was a different person after that. He had a hunger for Jesus. He became more sensitive to the needs of others, especially to my needs. He became more patient with the kids and even had a calm spirit when driving. It was like he left “the world.”

Six weeks later I went on an Emmaus walk and Jesus became real to me during this weekend. I knew Jesus was real before, but He became more than a just a story on a page. After this I felt a calling to lead our church’s youth ministry. We had volunteered some before with the youth and had been on a couple youth trips with our daughter. The youth leaders were leaving and they needed someone to step in. In the beginning it was just my call, but eventually my husband was called as well. We have prayed to go deeper in this ministry and God has been faithful to answer. When we started, it was ten minutes of teaching and 45 minutes of fellowship and games, and now we are able to spend more time teaching because the kids are interested and want to go deeper. We have been investing in teenagers’ lives this way for about 15 years. But this is not the end of the story. God had more for us. 

About four years ago, I went to a conference with a friend and saw one of my favorite worship leaders. She had been singing and praying and God’s spirit was so present. I can’t put into words how powerful I felt His presence that night. I felt God was urging me to give my life to worship. My life changed after that. I heard the call clearly from God and this built a confidence in me. I felt God calling me to lead His people into His presence through worship. I wanted people to feel Him and meet Him face to face. I now sing and lead worship for the second service at our church and my husband does all the sound work and is a drummer. We also do worship at the jail, at a drug recovery ministry, at revivals, and at festivals. Our goal as a worship team is that by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we would lead people into the presence of the Lord. I pray for God’s people to be able to feel His breath—that He would be that close. 

We have been awed by the power of God. We have seen missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and youth leaders come from the youth group. We have seen that God can use anybody to accomplish what He wants to accomplish. For so much of my life, Jesus was just a character from a storybook, but God has shown us how real He is. We have seen it and experienced it, and we want others to experience it too.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#125. Journey to Jordan: Dawn on the Jordan River

Photo by Anna Carroll

The rooster crowed as I made my way down the dusty trail to the shore.  It was dawn on the banks of the Jordan River. I had hoped to have a few moments alone in this sacred place, to be with the Lord, to sit quietly with Him. I sat down next to the water, alone except for the singing birds.

The reflection of the moon swayed gently on the river’s surface. It was so quiet, so peaceful. I slid off my sandals and put my foot in the water, sensing a physical connection with Him. The water in this river touched the body of Jesus and the water from this same river now touched my skin. Something stirred deeply in my soul. Softly but earnestly, from my heart I sang.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning, my song shall rise to Thee.

(Reginald Heber, 1826)

I was glad no one was around to hear me – but at the same time I longed for others to join me in worshiping Him. I sat silently for some time, recalling the Scriptures and imagining Jesus walking into the water to John and being submerged, then lifted up, the Spirit of God descending on Him like a dove and the voice from heaven, “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

After a while, another woman arrived on the hill above me. Perhaps she wanted time alone as well. I had only walked a few steps away when I saw a white feather along the rocks of the shoreline. I immediately thought of God’s Spirit that descended on Jesus as a dove. A coincidence perhaps.  But perhaps instead it was God’s way of reminding me of His presence… His Spirit in that place, His Spirit in me, His Spirit in us.  

Later our group gathered at the Jordan River for a communion service. The pastor who led us asked that we sing together before we received the bread and wine. Softly but earnestly, from her heart she sang.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning, my song shall rise to thee. 

Soon everyone’s voices rang out in harmony and my early morning longing was fulfilled…. with the same song! In this group from different backgrounds, different denominations, even different countries, we had this in common…. We were one in the body of Christ and our hearts were made to worship Him.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#110 Let’s Go Get Em’ Champ

Photo by Lang Thomas Photography

Eight years ago I left the corporate world having served as the President of Kentucky Fried Chicken for five years and as a Senior Executive for Yum! Brands, operating Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. When I left corporate I was coming out of a very dry season – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I didn’t know if my marriage was going to make it.  Thankfully, the Lord led my wife and I to a counselor who helped restore our marriage by teaching us how to pursue one another and rekindle an emotional connection and intimate relationship. Not only is our marriage restored, but we now coach other married couples who are struggling.

But there was also the question of what would I do with the rest of my life after leaving corporate? I wasn’t quite 50 years old, I couldn’t sit still very long and didn’t play golf. I had served as the Executive Pastor for my church but I didn’t want to go back into “ministry” at the church and I didn’t want to go back into business. I prayed “Lord, help me know what to do.”

Around this time the Lord began to show me that I was half-hearted in my love for him. My faith had become more about a set of “guidelines and guardrails”. I had book knowledge and head knowledge of God, but I didn’t really KNOW Him. I didn’t have experiential knowledge of God. Because if I really knew God I couldn’t help but love him.

A turning point occurred when I attended a Faith in the Marketplace workshop and witnessed a man praying an adoration prayer. I had never seen anything like it before. It felt like I was listening in on an intimate conversation with his spouse. It reminded me of some of the ways our marriage was restored. I knew I wanted that kind of love for God, that kind of intimacy. I started praying adoration prayers, prayers about the nature of God, that God is good and faithful, that God is my advocate and my defender, that God has a plan for my life.

My wife and I felt the Lord call us to start adoration prayer and worship nights in our home. The first night we had 22 people. We held these worship nights quarterly and more people started coming – around 60-70 people– so many that we needed to move our furniture out to accommodate the people. The Lord led us to buy a barn, Iron Bell, and we began to host worship nights there every month, gathering together to adore God in a time of extended worship and prayer.

The Lord continued to teach us out of intimacy and love. We were learning not only more about God but were also learning about who WE are. The Lord taught me about covenant love and not having to perform, that intimacy requires not only the right view of Him, but also the right view of myself.  You won’t grow intimate unless you know there is no guilt or shame; that we are sons and daughters. We learned to operate FROM value not FOR value. (Romans 8:14-17 “for those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again, rather, the spirit you received brought about your adoption to Sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are His children then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…”)

As time progressed my wife and I realized that these truths needed to be shared, specifically how to fulfill the first commandment “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all you mind.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and that as sons and daughters we work from value, not for value. Also we felt led to teach about how to fulfill our Ephesians 2:10 purpose in life; that His Kingdom can be expressed by partnering with Him in everyday work, everyday life. As God was doing a work “in us”, he then began to do a work “through us”.  A ministry, Iron Bell Ministries, was born out of that journey.

As you partner with God to work out your purposes in life I think this final story can give you great perspective. I used to think that God gave me a game plan and then said, “Go get em champ!” Now, I know that instead God holds my hand and says “Let’s go get em champ!” 

#85 When We Become Dependent On God, Our Real Adventure Begins

 

Photo by Renee Toole

I grew up in Chile attending a church started by US missionaries where I was baptized. One of my main connections with Jesus at an early age was to experience Him as a restorer through the prayer of my mother. When I was five years old, an older kid tricked me to do sexual activities without mentioning it to my parents. I didn’t know what I was doing, but after a while when I was nine years old I began to have nightmares about it. I felt much shame and pain. I remember feeling the voice of the enemy whispering that this episode defined who I was. 

My mother took me to psychiatrists, but none could help. She gave up on the doctors and began praying out loud for me every night, and speaking the truth about who I was and how God felt about me. God worked through my mom’s prayers and I was restored and healed completely. I learned that experiences don’t define us—only God does. 

In the midst of this crisis, the US missionaries left Chile and my parents got divorced. God became sidelined in my life and tennis became my main priority. At 18 I set in my heart that I was to become a professional tennis player, but just as I was about to begin traveling, I received a full scholarship to play tennis at a US college. I didn’t want to go but my parents wanted me to go, so I went. I didn’t know anyone and was very lonely. I joined a fraternity to be accepted and have friends. But after much drinking and partying, I was ready for a change in my life. I didn’t speak the language well and this made it hard to go to church. However, even though I didn’t go to church, I remember praying, “God, help me to change the world with You.” 

During my sophomore year, another Chilean student came to the same small college I was attending. He was from my hometown but I didn’t know him. I felt like I needed to be his friend. There was something different about him that I wanted. I took him to parties and tried to get him into my world but I knew he was uncomfortable. So we stopped the parties and just hung out. He always talked to me about God and this was in my own language, which really helped me. He told me about miracles and encountering God. This challenged me because I had never heard about this. His faith was more of a relationship than a religion. 

One morning at 3 a.m. we were studying for a Chemistry test and he asked me, “Is Jesus the center of your life?” When I heard this I was convicted of my lifestyle. I could not lie. I asked him, “Does God want to be the center of my life? Is this possible?” He said, “Yes, it is the only way.” So I turned completely to God that night. I felt God inviting me to a great adventure. I felt God’s love, God’s power. 

I became a new person and little by little started to make radical changes in my life. I knew God was calling me to something greater. I started to read the Bible like crazy and tell everybody about how amazing Jesus was. I began worshiping by playing guitar and singing (as I had done as a kid). I remember riding a skateboard and praying, “I want to change the nations with You, Lord.” The Lord spoke back and said, “Why don’t you begin with that homeless man in the street?” He narrowed down my view from the world to the right here, right now. “What are you going to do about that man who is right in front of you?” 

That summer instead of going home, I went to live in a homeless shelter. After two weeks, I was burned out and regretted coming. Their problems were bigger than my faith. I had been preaching the gospel but it wasn’t working and no one had been saved. I was operating on my own efforts, wanting to be the Christian superhero, but the Lord invited me to the real journey. The journey was about Him. I heard Him say the John 15:5 verse, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Two days later a friend texted me that same verse. I stopped what I had been doing at the shelter and instead got up early every morning to abide in God and get to know Him. I prayed, sang, and fasted. I was filled with joy but no one knew why I was so happy. After a week, a homeless man asked me, “What are you doing in the morning?” Then the homeless men asked me to come outside and play for them what I was doing in the morning. So I worshipped outside with them. The first time I worshipped outside with them, God came and encountered all of us. Most every day we did this, and as we worshipped, many would repent and surrender to Jesus. There was deliverance from addictions, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love for one another. We became a family because God’s presence was there. 

We must make God the center of our lives. When we do, we will experience God’s love and presence more deeply and find the place we really belong, a place of intimacy with our Father. When we become dependent on God and surrender, God’s power is unleashed in amazing ways, and our real life adventure begins.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#81 My Weakness and Shame Brought Into His Strength and Victory

 

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Since high school, I’ve always known what the Lord was calling me into—ministry, worship, and music. I always knew that His promises for me were big ones. But along the way, I got distracted by pride, greed, jealousy, boys—you name it. I got so distracted that eventually my worth and identity were found in worthless things. 

When I was a freshman in college, my boyfriend, who I thought I would be with forever (go ahead and raise the red flag here) suddenly broke up with me because “God told him to.” Instantly, the lies were accepted in my heart that God wanted me to suffer. That I wasn’t actually worth anything to Him. The Jesus that I used to sing about didn’t actually love me and that He died for me out of obligation. That nobody would ever love me and that I was alone. My own desire to be separated from God and the pain I thought He was causing, led me into self-deprecating thoughts and actions. I began hurting myself and concocting ways that I could possibly end my life, and I began to hear voices in my heart that encouraged me to do so. 

A professor at the college I attended, by what I believe to be divine inspiration, started noticing me. I was making sure that I was covering up my pain both physically and emotionally, but still, she saw me. She gave me words of encouragement about how she has dealt with depression. To not give up on God. That there was hope. It was like water to my arid heart. Through her words, some particular wounds began to heal and I was at least able to pray again and allow Him to replace some lies with His truth. But still there were other lies that were deeply rooted in my heart about His affection toward me. 

Fast forward eight years, and I thought that particular part of my life had been healed. I was pretty much satisfied with the way things were going. I had gotten married to a wonderful man, been actively involved in my church in Lexington, and was going through an intense interview process to be on staff at that church. The morning of my second interview, I looked at myself in the mirror and the Holy Spirit said to me, “They’re going to ask you about your past and you’re going to tell them about your freshman year.” Instantly, tears were streaming down my face with the desire to keep that part hidden. I didn’t want to admit how much I had been deceived into thinking the thoughts that I did. I had never shared this part of my life with anybody and now I would share it with people that I was trying really hard to impress. 

I wanted to appear to be the perfect candidate, but through faith, I obeyed. I cried through the whole thing and it was still painful and felt shameful. So later that night I went out for a drive and I just cried out to God and said, “I still feel so ashamed!” and His voice pierced my heart with a choice. He said, “You don’t have to be ashamed.” He showed me that what I thought were my weaknesses and losses could be brought into His strength and victory if I would let Him—that my worship could be more powerful coming from a once broken place than a place that’s never known His power and healing. 

And from that place I’ve seen Him do wonderful things. I’ve seen Him cultivate vegetation where it was once dry, dead, and cracked. I’ve seen Him produce fruit! Now when I sing and worship, it comes from that place. Not just by what I’ve heard about my Father, but what I’ve experienced of His love! It’s by His power and His presence that my heart has been made new, and it can sing again! What I used to hate about my past has now become very precious to me, but only because God has done something through it! I’m just so thankful.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#35 Obedience to Speak Love

Photo by Erin E. Photography

It has been the cry of my heart lately for this joy the Lord has instilled within me to spill over to His people. How sweet is this place—the place where we can stand before the Lord as the broken beings that we are and feel overwhelmed by the love He lavishes upon us when we feel so far from worthy. It is here in this place that we see that this love can’t just stay captive within us, but is meant to spread like wildfire among us. With this revelation, I have asked God to reveal my spiritual gifts to me and allow them to bless others. Being the faithful and sweet God that He is, He has done just that.

I was home in Cincinnati for the weekend and attended church with my mother one Sunday morning. We found a seat in the crowded room and began to worship. I am very observant and absolutely LOVE watching people worship Jesus, so sometimes I feel like the Lord wants me to worship by watching. When I do this, I see glimpses of heaven around the room, hearts surrendered, weights lifted, and expressions that long to see His face.

This particular morning there was a woman two seats from me that I could not seem to pull my eyes away from. She was PUMPED to be at the service. You know those people that you see at church that are about to just lose it because they are completely sold out on the love of Jesus that they may just fall out of their chair or burst through the ceiling? Yeah, well, she was one of those. It was awesome.

Worship ended and our pastor delivered his message. To be honest, I have no idea what it was about, because the whole service I heard the Lord telling me something about this girl that He wanted me to share with her. Me being the sometimes doubtful person that I am, thought to myself, No, this isn’t from the Lord; I’m making this up. I kept going back and forth in my head the entire service, and by the end of our pastor’s message I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything to her. Usually when I feel the Lord is wanting me to speak or deliver a message to someone, my heart is beating out of my chest, but it wasn’t in this particular case, so that’s what further supported my reasoning to not say anything. Shortly after thinking this, my heart began to beat really fast and I could hardly stand keeping the words in any longer. I was still dead-set on not saying anything though. But as we all know, God is persistent, strong, and fierce with his love, so He was not content with stopping there.

Before our pastor got off stage, he said, “I feel like there’s someone in the room that has a gambling problem and I want to tell you that he wants to deliver you from that. I just had to say that; I couldn’t be disobedient to the Lord.”

I then thought to myself, You’re funny God. Fine, I’ll tell her; I can’t be disobedient either. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “The Lord has been speaking to me about you this whole service, and I’m not sure what this means to you but I feel like the Lord wants you to know that He is so proud of you and is holding the weight that you surrendered to Him.”

The woman began to weep. She reached out and hugged me for quite some time, crying in my arms while I whispered, “You’re beautiful” in her ear, and I just held her for a minute. I looked at her one last time, smiled, and went on my way.

I don’t know the story behind it all or what this meant to her, but I do know on that very day the Lord used the cry of my heart to speak love and life into hers, and for that I will be forever grateful. He hears our cries, he puts courage in our bones, and he uses His children to speak the language that only He could create—love. To Him alone be the glory.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.