TITLE: A Massage, A Message, and the Hand of God
By Karen Story
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I dragged myself out of bed for my spa appointment. I was seasick and thankful we were no longer moving. I praised God that we had docked at Freeport. Does a cruise mean spending time in the spa getting a massage and facial, not having to cook, meeting new people, relaxing by the pool, and a chance to share God's word? Well, it does for me. I had never been seasick before and as I looked out the window the clouds were gray and moving across the sky at a fast pace. I hoped the rain would stop.
My masseuse, a lovely young woman in her mid 20's, introduced herself as she motioned me to the massage table.
"Where are you from? Are you enjoying your cruise?” she asked.
"Yes, South Carolina and traveling with my husband Craig. It is his twenty fifth high school reunion cruise."
She told me to remove the terry robe and hang it on the wall hook provided for patrons as she left the room. All I wanted to do is crawl back in bed and pray the nausea would pass soon. I quickly made my way to the table and slipped under the sheet.
From past cruises, I knew the employees onboard came from all over the world and are contracted to work for several months at a time. I wondered where she was from. She tapped on the door and opened it.
"How long have you been on this ship?" I asked as she re-entered.
"I've been with this cruise line for three years. I get to go home soon for a vacation.”
"Where are you from?" I inquired as she rubbed her hands together to warm the oil.
"I'm from Johannesburg South Africa.”
A feeling a gloom swept over me as I had heard that Johannesburg was very poor and a Godless place to live. She also told me she was half way through her eight month contract.
Lying on the table, I felt her hands work out the tight muscles in the back of my lower legs. I began to pray silently, "Oh God help me feel better. Thank you for these hands to work out my sore muscles in my legs." I had given in to Craig's demands to take the stairs in lieu of the elevator. It was his way to compensate for overeating.
Wondering what it was like to live in Africa, I continued, "God bless this woman today." The muscle popped and released under her thumbs. I breathed a <I>Thank you Jesus</I> and she giggled, “Good, I can always use His help.”
I felt the need to ask her if there were any churches in South Africa. She nodded her head and lowered her voice, "Yes. I am a Christian.”
Intrigued by her need to whisper I continued, "Are you able to go to church onboard?”
"No, there is no place to worship here.” Her superiors didn’t provide or support any type of worship. In fact, they discourage talk about any beliefs.
All sorts of thoughts popped through my mind: I couldn't work on a boat for months with no one to talk to about God. She next told me of the long shifts and said that other than the few hours she has to herself, she sleeps.
"Do you own a Bible?” I asked.
She stepped away to add more oil to the palms of her hands. "I do. God waits for me in the morning to talk to him. He asks: <I>Why didn't you talk to me today?</I> I do acknowledge him and say tomorrow but tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes as I usually fall asleep from pure exhaustion."
The young woman was now thumping my back with her palms, "Do you believe in demons?"
"Yes, they are alive and here to distract us and we need to keep our minds guarded at all times.”
She told me of how noisy it was in her living quarters, "There are lots of demons onboard. Some of the girls have experienced being woken in the night to find blood splattered over their bed sheets, or someone standing over them. They are upset because they don't know how anyone could access their room through locked doors.”
I raised my brows as she noticed the wrinkles appearing on my forehand.
She continued to explain, "Some of the girls from my hall have come to tell me things they have seen and heard. There are people who stand naked in front of their windows and chant in some unknown language for hours. I've heard them too.
Hearing her story gave me goose bumps as she moved around to the head of the table. I prayed to myself, forgetting my seasickness and feeling true concern for her. "Satan, you do not belong here. You must go. Where God is you cannot be. Father God, protect this young lady; protect me while I'm here, and protect us all."
Over and over I repeated this prayer as she rubbed out the rising tension in my neck muscles. She spoke, "I feel God here."
"Yes, God is here. He is with us and He is waiting and watching over us because He loves us so much." We both became still and soaked in His presence. It lasted for a moment; for me it was long enough to feel that He is and has always been near me. My neck felt better and I knew He was truly with us.
"Can demons live in us?" she asked and stepped back to the sink to wash her hands. “You can sit up now”, she stated as she waited for my reply.
Without hesitation I firmly but lovingly said to her, "Where God is, Satan can't be. God lives in us. Satan tries to attack us when we are weak and through our minds and thoughts or through other people." I had attended a Cleansing Stream Retreat prior to going on this cruise and had been reviewing my workbook and reading the book by Neil T. Anderson, <I>The Bondage Breaker</I>. What I had learned was very fresh in my memory.
Sitting on the edge of the table I dangled my legs and noticed how much better they felt. She confessed to me that she has had many affairs and many times turned into someone that she's not - from the sweet, quiet, reserved person that she is - to someone who gets very angry and says hurtful things.
I looked straight into her eyes and smiled, "God loves you so much, He forgives you and thinks of you as His precious child, His princess, His beautiful daughter."
"Thank you Miss Karen. You can get dressed now and I will be back in a moment." She exited the room. When she returned, her eyes filled with tears as she said, “God sent you to me.”
"Yes", I cried. "He also brought you to me. For all I said to you was meant for me to hear as well. We are His precious children, His princesses, His beautiful daughter; and He has forgiven us for our sins. He longs for us to talk to him, every day, and all day long."
I reached out and took her hands and asked her if I could pray for her.
"Yes, please", she seemed eager. Then I prayed a hedge of protection over her, for God to bring her a friend or friends that she could talk to about God. I asked God to bless her hands and the words from her mouth, and asked God to give her peace and a sound mind, health. I also asked God to watch over her and her family at home. I prayed God's light would shine so brightly through her that her co-workers would notice and be so curious they would break the imposed silence so she could share the love of God.
We hugged and it was time for me to leave. I hoped to see her again one day.
I know we met according to God purposes. Our meeting was the most interesting and meaningful part of this vacation. The best massage of my life, inside and out. It really brought it home to me that we are God’s little girls, loved by Him and forgiven.
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