A while back, my friend Rebecca and I met at the local Bales’ parking lot to seek out people to pray for and love on for Jesus.
Basically, there is a paucity of outreach happening, we feel. There are so many people with walking pain all over their lives, and there just are not enough prayers going up for them. So, we met on the sidewalk that connects the store with the McDonald’s and then a crosswalk to the school.
We stood there for a second. As I had arrived, I was so excited. I could feel this energy and joy and desire to do several things, but one of them, I knew was simply this: to undo the curse.
Back 25 years ago, in Banks, I had reached out to this woman, sitting down at a picnic table, and told her that the Lord had whispered for me to say one thing to her, that he loved her so much. She reacted with fear. “You are making me so uncomfortable,” she said to me, “Please leave.”
I think she thought perhaps I was making a come-on of some sort! 🙈
I did leave, but felt this immense shame, Had I heard Jesus? Had I not? And what had just happened? I left with a fear of saying “yes” to those prompts. Back then, and I’m sorry to admit sometimes now, shame won over Jesus. I had carried that fear of saying the wrong thing for many years. It was a fear of people, a fear of outcomes, etc.
Robby Dawkins’ book “Do what Jesus Did” has since greatly impacted me. One thing I have taken away from reading it, and subsequently hearing Robby speak, is that Jesus will use even our failures for his glory. He also reminded his listeners and me that fear is a fiery dart. So don’t give in.
As I have looked back on that woman, with the blond hair, sitting on that bench outside of the Bales Thriftway in Banks, I wonder how God used that encounter in her life, even though it felt like a blunder.
Of course, we know this is true, the cross proves this, that even apparent failures are victories. But in life, I have often not believed that “my blunders” or I often use the term “failures” could thus be used.
Robby tells a great story about his attempt to pray for a guy who had died to be resuscitated. That’s boldness!
He had prayed boldly, several times, but nothing had happened. This was in a park, so there was a group of 20 some people around him by the time he finished praying. He looked up, thinking, “Well, they will not believe anything about Jesus now.” But, in contrast, that group of people had tears in their eyes, and they were saying to one another, “What courage! What faith! What boldness!” They were not dissuaded from Jesus. On the contrary, they were astounded that Robby had tried!
Out of that about 12 of them came to the evening worship service and several met the Lord that night. Out of his failure was birthed new life in Jesus.
So, that day, Rebecca and I met and stood on a sidewalk to speak with people who passed by us. Before we had stood there on that sidewalk, outside McDonald’s, many kids and adults had seemed to be walking along it, but after we were there traffic stopped on that sidewalk.
We chatted and prayed for the folk in McDonald’s, and waited.
I saw this one kid in a grey sweatshirt and felt like there was something for him, but he ducked into McDonald’s and I never took the chance to speak. But then this older woman came toward us. Browned skinned, small of stature, with a small backpack on her back, attached to which was a folding chair. She was walking with an ornate walking stick that was taller than she was. She smiled as she drew near with this beautiful smile, with gold teeth on both sides. Her wrinkled, aged, brown face creased around this smile and light shone from her eyes. I was just going to speak when she surprised us and spoke to us:
“God Almighty will bless you mightily today,” she said, “yes, God will bless you.”
We were stunned to silence.
We were stationed to bless others and instead got blessed.
Rebecca spoke: “I see wisdom on you! You are beautiful.” And the woman smiled.
It was as if she was an angel of God. She walked up the sidewalk, passed us kindly repeating her blessing, walked away from us, and we watched her go. I said, “Any second I wouldn’t be surprised if she just disappeared from sight.”
“You will be blessed,” well, there was the promise.
We moved from the sidewalk inside McDonald’s and I began to pray for the people around us. There was that man in the grey sweatshirt. I prayed for him without going up to him, and soon after that, he left. This girl was there with her dad, who spent the majority of their time while she ate and he drank his coke, looking at his phone, not at her. Her eyes were haunted. Like she longed to be seen. I prayed for them, and next thing I knew, he had put down his phone, was holding both her hands in his and laughing as they looked into one another faces and told stories of the day. Even seated here blessings abounded.
This Asian woman with black hair, pulled back in a headband, and wearing a floral print sweater arrived and sat at the table nearby us with what appeared to be her two children. While they awaited their meals, I went over and said, “While you wait do you mind if I tell you a story?” She was eager and the children excited. I told them it was from the Bible. “This event really happened to a man named Jesus a long time ago,” I said.
I told them the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).
“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”
The children were engaged and responsive as was the mom. They laughed, responded and answered the questions I asked. Our moment finished, as their food arrived, and I allowed them to eat. Planting seeds, I thought, we are just planting seeds.
Rebecca noticed this guy across from us and called over to him, “Your eyes are beautiful.” Rebecca has this unique, bold, “nothing will stop me,” willingness to just say what she is prompted to say.
She told me that as she had said this, his eyes changed, became dark, and he seemed to growl. As he left we followed him out and went up to him. Then I saw, this man was on drugs. He was talking, out loud, to the air. He was laughing uncontrollably. He was unfocused. So, I stood near him, and said, “I’d like to pray for you, would you let me?” He chuckled. I repeated this offer. I placed a hand on his shoulder and prayed on his behalf. He calmed a bit and then Rebecca spoke, “You will remember what I have said tomorrow. You will awaken and think that we were a dream. But you will then know that we stood here and told you that Jesus loves you immensely, the drugs are lying, but he tells the truth.” She spoke on and on. It was immense for he just stood there. The presence of God was in that place even though so much of this man’s head was not present due to the drugs.
She finished speaking and then he walked away, swaying, laughing. Not free, yet, but we had prayed, we had reached out, and truly, we believe that both he and we had been blessed.
Recently Jan, a woman who is a great grandma, and hotly pursuing jesus, from our congregation came into a lunch and told of an experience from that morning. She had been at a restaurant gathering of local business owners and the speaker had offered to pray for the woman who was serving at their table.
“What do you need today?” the man had asked her.
She had responded, “My feet really hurt today.”
So, this man had prayed, and God set her free from the pain.
Jan, experiencing this, came away so blessed. It was a privilege to see this man reach out for Jesus, and a privilege and encouragement to see Jesus show up.
I believe Jesus just wants His people to be willing to be out there offering love to the people around us.
It is too easy in this world to miss this, to not speak up, to not leave our “isolation” from others by not looking people in the eye, by not speaking, by not being honest. Who knows what the needs are, nor the level of blessing Jesus wants to give others?
Robby Dawkins told when speaking at the Compassion to Action event in Portland the end of September 2018 of offering to pray for a blind man in Rome a number of years ago.
Robby prayed four times and the blindness remained unchanged. When Robby asked if he could pray again, the man said, “No. No. It is ok. But could I buy you and your family dinner?”
“No,” Robby said, “You need not do this. Truly. I just wanted to pray for you.”
The man responded, “Sir, I have been blind for 67 years and no one has ever offered to pray for me. I am very touched. Could I buy your dinner?”
Robby now was moved.
Imagine the impact upon this man that after these years, God had chosen Robby to be the first to offer to pray?
Robby invited this man to join them for dinner. He did. And during the meal came to faith in Jesus through Robby’s witness. I’d say that was greater sight and the greater miracle.
No matter what occurs to others, you will be blessed.
“God Almighty will bless you mightily today,” she said, “yes, God will bless you.”