Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write something AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (10/02/14)
- TITLE: God Encounters of the Unexpected Kind
By Lisa Johnson
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I heard a profound statement in a sermon once... “the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” I would be less than honest if I did not admit that, on occasion, I am guilty of just that. Sometimes, I allow myself to get distracted by life, in general. I forget to lean fully on God, trying, instead, to handle things myself. Instead of resting on God's promises, I find myself striving and struggling... which is very exhausting physically, emotionally and spiritually.
This past summer, I found myself in a very bad place. I'll spare you all of the “gory” details. Suffice it to say, I had allowed physical, financial and family problems to completely drain me of every ounce of strength I could muster. (Note that I said all the strength “I” could muster.)
In July, my husband and I took a couple of days to go to a Patriotic Event at Morningside Ministries in Missouri. I was pretty much running on auto-pilot by then... going through the motions... trying not to feel anything. The picnic was nice. The concert was nice. The fireworks were nice. It was all very nice.
After the fireworks, they announced that there would be an “After Glow” service, inviting people to stay longer, if they wanted to. We didn't have a reason not to stay. We weren't on any particular schedule. So, we stayed. The worship music was nice. The message was nice. (Do you see a pattern here?) I was trying to stay in a neutral zone... being more of an observer than a participant.
At some point, the speaker left the podium, and asked people who needed prayer to come forward. I watched as people started moving toward the front. Although tears streamed down my cheeks, I never intended to move. I was very surprised when my husband grabbed my hand, and pulled me toward the front. The speaker started moving through the crowd, stopping to speak with individual people, one on one. I watched as people started being “slain in the Spirit,” as he would speak to them, and pray over them.
Now, there's something you need to know about me. I am a very conservative, Southern Baptist kind of girl. To be honest, I always thought there was something “hokey” about more “demonstrative” types of worship. As the speaker came closer to where we were standing, I tried very hard to pull my husband backwards through the crowd. All I wanted was to blend into the crowd of people who had remained seated.
My husband had a different idea. Instead of me pulling him backwards, he pushed me in front of him. There was no way to avoid coming face to face with the speaker. My thoughts were racing. I knew, in my heart, that I was never, never, never going to fall out in front of all those people. (Good little Baptist girls don't do things like that.)
Finally, the speaker stood right in front of me. I was terrified. He leaned in close, and whispered in my ear. He spoke a word into me that could only have come from the very heart of God. I burst into tears and, at that point, I could not have remained on my feet, if I had tried. I felt weightless, like I was being lowered to the floor by angel wings.
In my spirit, I could hear God speaking to me.
“You are carrying things that I never intended you to carry. You can trust Me with your burdens. Give Me all of the things that have you so weighed down. I will carry them for you.”
I don't know how long I was “slain in the Spirit.” I only know that it was an intensely personal encounter with God... and that it was intensely liberating. I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. To add to this amazing story... my husband (a good little Baptist boy) was also “slain in the Spirit,” receiving his own personal word from the Lord.
We didn't plan it. We never expected it. There are times, looking back, that the whole episode seems surreal. I know one thing, beyond a shadow of a doubt. God has a word for each one of us. We just have to be ready to listen.
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