I’ve promised you transparency, so that’s where I have to go.
Yesterday, I received a phone call from my mom asking me about a verse. Hearing her description of the verse, my thoughts were immediately transported back four years ago.
Four years ago, I went to a conference hosted by a partner church called “Run It.” It was a retreat for women that I was extaordinarily excited about. Mostly, I was excited because even though I had been in my church for awhile, I didn’t really have any relationships. Tom (my husband) and I would drive 30 minutes to church and 30 minutes back, with no stopping to talk to anyone. When you go to church with college students, and you’re church is only 80 people (at the time), it’s possible.
So, I get to the retreat and decided to attend one of the breakout sessions on “how to pray for others.” Others always asked me to pray for them, so I figured that it would probably be good to get some training.
The women who led the session advised us to pray and wait on the Lord before approaching those in front who were asking for prayer. I was in the back of the room, resigned that I would observe and not pray. I came to the conference to learn, and I was afraid of stepping out.
Well, one young woman was standing in the front of the church for about twenty minutes just waiting for someone to come pray for her. I knew exactly what she needed prayer for. I stood in the back of the room, praying for her silently. Frustrated, I asked God, “Why isn’t anyone stepping forward for her, God? It’s so easy.”
I imagine that God was laughing at the time.
In my frustration (note, not in rest), I hastily went up to the girl. She told me nothing of what she needed prayer for. I totally relied on the Holy Spirit to come through. And He did. Every word was confirmed in the instant it left my lips. The girl even went so far to tell me afterwards that it was a prayer she would never forget. The Spirit was on top of it. Praise Jesus! Really.
Well, I went back to my seat, relieved that God came through. I was about to leave when I noticed that there were still people who wanted prayer, and there were not many people left in the room to pray. One woman really caught my attention. I received a word, but failed to ask for the interpretation. It proved to be deadly.
High on the fact that God had shown up, I approached this woman and asked her if she wanted prayer. The woman started yelling at me. She had been waiting for a Word for the young girl I prayed for earlier and I “had cut her off” — and then the accusation came:
“I don’t think you have the gift. I’m a pastor’s wife for over 20 years, I’ve trained lots of people, and I don’t think you should step out.”
Whoa. The hurt flooded me. Had I asked for interpretation, and been a little more mature in discernment, I would have known that she was filled with anger at both me and God. But I didn’t. I could have waited for instruction on how to proceed. Fortunately, God’s grace was on me, and I was able to stay in a place of sound mind as I talked to her. Unfortuately, after I left the room, I was a wreck, and very stereotypical of me at that time, I decided to run. I got out of that conference and planned to get out of my church.
For three weeks, Tom and I didn’t attend our church. I was truly crushed in spirit. When I prayed about it, the Lord gave me Luke 13:6-9. (My church is a Vineyard church by the way.)
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’
At the time, I remember feeling like God was telling me to wait one year to see if being in the church would bear fruit — to give Him time to heal things. To reinforce the point, God had my pastor call me just to say that he had noticed we hadn’t been there and wanted to know if there’s something wrong. I was able to lift my concerns and go back to church in blessing.
That was four years ago. And this week, the Lord put it on me to recall that verse and see just what fruit He bore by planting me in this Vineyard. I can say, with no embarrasment, that I was brought to tears.
I recalled the people and events in my life that have been transformed through my being in the Vineyard (not me, but how God was able to use me). And the transformation in MY life from being here is nothing short of a miracle. I have to take a break as I even write those words because His work is so great that it leaves me humbled. I literally want to bow down.
I was discouraged the day that woman slimed me (and yes, I did have to ask for forgiveness for the ways in which I hurt her). But out of that experience came the lesson for me to wait on the seed God plants. And four years later, I praise Him with every fiber of my being for the fruit He’s born through the relationships with people and with Him that have been provided in this place.
I’ve learned that I can’t trust Satan or his lies. I’ve learned Psalm 63:10 through and through:
“Do not trust in oppression.”
I won’t be discouraged. I will not believe in the oppression a spirit of discouragement brings. Instead of even giving it any power by praying for it to be released, I’m choosing differently. I’ve learned to trust in freedom. To trust in life. And to look for the things God is encouraging me in. I’m pursuing that path. Because I want to bear fruit, and I want God’s fruit in my life.