Healing the Blind

My last blog left off with my conversation with God, my desperate call for help to do what He was leading me to do, and His answer that we would heal others. I have to say, I immediately checked that thought, after all, I’m talking to teen girls about how to take their thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, I have to do the same. Was it a selfish thought? Was it a thought that served myself or others? Was it good, lovely, and pure? Did it perpetuate the Love of God in me and through me? Did it line up with His Word? Yes. It did. I knew my Father spoke it, but what did He mean?

 

I looked back over what I was reading and listening to when I heard God’s voice as He spoke to Heidi and regardless of where I was and what I was supposed to be doing, I knew God was calling me away to focus, to get what He was saying, to understand. I shut the book, listened to the birds and the bugs (and saws) just outside my window and reached in to hear His voice. It was there, like a breaking wave, “You will heal the blind, cause the lame to dance, and set the captives free.”

 

Me? Surely I heard wrong. Who was I? I was little old Leslie with a lot of heart but very little power. I had just read Heidi’s story…she had kept her hands up for 3 hours, laid on her face for three days, and was consumed and ignited with the fire of God – of course, she would heal! I understood this. But I was no Heidi! I could barely pray for an hour without losing focus about a million times or fading off to sleep!

 

Then I heard the same thing He had been saying to me for a while, the very same answer He gave Peter when he wanted to know about John’s fate, “What’s that to you? What does what I do through anyone else, and what anyone else does for me have to do with you?” I was listening. “Leslie, when will you see that there is no prescription for My working power, no set of rules, or secret to unlock? When will you get rid of your box and take hold and trust in My Love?”

 

I was still struggling to process, but I was beginning to understand…it wasn’t about me at all. It wasn’t about me following a set of rules, or obeying a scheduled pattern of practice. It wasn’t about what I could do to earn His favor and walk in His power, it was about accepting that I had His favor and I was walking in His power by His grace!

 

A few months ago someone told me, “Leslie, God gave me a word for you.” I was open to receive that word…if it was from God, I was desperate to hear it. Then he said, “If you don’t stop your ego-centrism, it will destroy you!” I admit that I was immediately offended, and even more so deeply hurt. I tested that word, and looked it up in the dictionary…ego centrism- caring about no one but yourself, self-involved and selfish. Really? If God had said this, did He know me? I shared it with my mentor and it didn’t resonate in either of us, in the voice in which it was shared, so I was told to dismiss it. But, it has served to haunt me. Anyone that knows what I have been through in the last couple of years in my life, has seen me struggle to find purpose, and question my life, knows that pride is something that was intentionally plucked out of me, not nicely or with gentleness, but in it’s place came grace and mercy and understanding…for all things but PRIDE. Pride doesn’t sit well with me. I am righteously indignant against it. It rises up my cackles and requires me to settle my spirit before God to control and to calm. I have made that “word” my prayer that I would never truly hear those words from the lips of God…that I would always be humble in my faith and in dealing with others…and that everything I have been given to do, and every gift that He has bestowed upon me would be offered back in love and thankfulness that He might be glorified.

 

I say all that to say that as time has passed I have come to the conclusion that my friend was both right and wrong. He was wrong because He translated that word as accusation and warning, but it was meant to be (or has come to mean to me) a word of wisdom and advice. It had nothing to do with only caring about myself, or not being willing to get dirty to minister to others, or putting myself on a pedestal. It has everything to do with not thinking that anything that God is doing in me and through me was based on who I am or what others saw in me. Doing God’s work is about being obedient and being open. It isn’t about playing a part, or gaining the favor of man, it is entirely about being pliable in the hands of my Maker, my Creator, my Lord, and my King. Sure others can and will do what I do, and many can and will do it better. It’s not about me being special or an expert, it is about me being obedient to the call He’s placed on my life, without looking to see what He is doing through and in others.

 

Healer God was pointing out my blindness, opening my eyes to see what had obscured my sight for so long. Healing my vision blinded by my insecurities. This was an important step…because no one gets anywhere when led by a blind person…but when the blind leader begins to see…the journey is clearer, and the passion is stoked to remove everyone’s scales so that we all can see!

Advertisements

Not what I thought

One of the most God inspired moments I had at Prince of Peace had nothing to do with the girls. I was actually talking with one of the interns Yolanda, asking about her experiences, and sharing my fears about them having so many in and out of their lives, and hearing her journey of faith that God has begun in her. After less than an hour of sharing our hearts she says, “I have a book that you should read. I got it for my birthday. Do you read fast?” I laugh thinking about it, and the thoughts that filled my head, “Yes, I do read fast, and I love to read, and I rarely have time to finish a book.” I started to decline, but then I felt an excitement in my Spirit and I knew I had to read that book. “On a mission trip, ministering to girls and serving them, I should take up her offer to borrow her book?” As we often do, I tested the prompting. There was no doubt about it, the answer was, “Yes!”

The book was “Compelled by Love” by Heidi Baker. I had never heard of her before, but Yolanda had shared with me a little of her testimony, her amazing miraculous wake, and I was very interested. I should add here that I am not from an Apostolic background, but I have seen miracles, have witnessed them, and I believe that nothing is impossible with God. Immediately I was pulled in as Heidi’s husband writes the forward expressing her character and her personality, and how just being around her you could feel the love of Christ. I was jealous. If there is any characteristic of God that I feel most acutely it is His love, but I don’t exactly put off that aura. I dove into the book thinking to learn her “secret”.

Heidi’s is a testimony that you have to read to believe, and I highly recommend you reading it. But, she talks about her surrender to the love of Christ, the love that compelled her to go out of her way and do the unthinkable so that she could share what she had found. One day she was in an intense prayer time and she felt the Lord say to her that she would be a vessel of healing. I say vessel because only God can heal. The first miracle she heard Him say she would do is to heal the blind. Immediately she believed it. She looked for it, and the time came. She brought healing to a woman, an elderly woman, and she was amazed…she was even more amazed to hear that the woman shared her same name! The next time she brought healing it was also to a woman, a younger woman, and remarkably again she shared the same name! When it happened a third time with another woman named “Aida,” she knew that she was missing something. So, she asked God, “What are you trying to say to me?” God is very intentional. He answered, “You are blind, Heidi.” As I read this exchange I felt the Father speak the same to me, “You are blind, Leslie.” Even as she asked it, I also questioned how. His response was, “You are blind to my works, to my purpose and to my power.” Heidi asked, “Father, heal me! Help me see!” And she did, and the works that He did through her far surpassed what her faith before would have been able to see!

I read through some more, more miraculous works, more missions that she had led that brought life and healing to so many. “Is that what you want me to do, Lord? Go to another country and take in orphans and live and share Your love?” I asked with anticipation, almost a sense of eagerness, that He was indeed asking exactly that.  I thought about everyone I had chanced to meet and had spoken to in the last week: Yolanda was going to the Philippines to minister to women in sexual slavery. Ann was going to India to start another girl’s home, modeled after Prince of Peace. A friend was considering leaving the States to help another mission. It wasn’t hard to believe that He might not be asking the same of me. He wasn’t. As I read, He told me to look deeper.

“That would be too easy.” I wasn’t sure I heard that right. Too easy? To uproot my family, to move thousands of miles away, to start a church or a mission or a ministry – Who was I kidding? There was no part of that that would be easy. I heard His voice again, “Where does your heartache lie?” Immediately I started to cry. I thought of those that I minister to, those that I write for, and all of those that I meet and have yet to meet. Teen girls and women – my heart breaks daily for broken and used and scared and deceived girls that are longing for answers and hope and Truth. And, the truth hit me, and I wailed out loud, “It’s so hard, God!” He was confronting me with the truth that the hardships of leaving and ministry in a foreign land wouldn’t be easy, but what He had given me, the ministry that He had laid on my heart, His aching heart for His daughters, it was hard work.

I’m a runner. Not in the sense that my husband runs half marathons, I escape. When I was molested in boarding school, I ran to furthest recesses of my mind. When I was afraid that I was about to lose everything that I had ever known and faced never seeing my friends again, I tried to leave Earth. When I was raped in college, I ran to the ledge of reality and refused to believe it was happening. When I am scared or tired or overwhelmed, I try hard to find a way out…only there wasn’t one this time. With each passing day over the last couple of years, God was reminding me over and over in a million different ways exactly what He had called me to do, and still, I was looking for a way out! I argued with Him, “You don’t know what You are asking?! I am old. I am irrelevant. Let others, like Abbi, do this thing!” I gave a million reasons and excuses and better options, and at the end of my rant God said, “Are you quite finished, Moses?”

In the stillness, I realized there was no running. To run away was to abandon everything that He had gifted me with and had broken my heart over. So I did what a defeated, weary, and surrendered soul does, I cried out, “Help me!” And His answer came back, “You will bring them healing.”

Valentines

I woke up to the blue Guatemalan sky and the sunshine pouring through our window Tuesday morning. It was a beautiful start to the day, but I was lonely for family. I tried to push them out of my mind, but their little faces and dimples and smiles kept intruding on my best attempts.

After breakfast, we went straight to work painting another two rooms in the school building. While we worked, we could hear the kids singing and chatting in the courtyard, and we wondered what they were up to so we leaned over the balcony to see. They were having a party! They were given bags of candy and a piece of cake that some of the workers had made for them. (We had smelt the lingering tendrils of baked chocolate at breakfast and now we knew why!) They were the happiest children on earth it seemed! It made my heart smile, but immediately I wondered at my own kids and their class parties and missed them all over again. I knew they were fine, figured they were happy, and I jerked my mind back to the task at hand.

With each brushstroke I found myself daydreaming about my girls. When out of the corner of my eye, I saw a girl from the home; it was Alicia (14) and she was smiling at me. I smiled back, and then I saw that she held something in her hand. It was a change purse like the one that I had been given the night before, and she was opening it up to hand me what was inside. She handed me a folded note. As I read it I stopped –“To my forever sister.” In the letter she wanted me to know that she was praying for me and my family and that she was pleased to meet me. I almost cried as I reached out to hug her. She was precious…and she was exactly right. I felt God speak to my heart, “Here is your forever family! You will go back home to your girls, but these are My girls, your sisters, and they are happy to spend today with you!” I folded the note up and put it in my pocket, thanking my sister for thinking of me. She handed me the change purse, “Here.” I didn’t want to take it. I had already been given something and these girls didn’t have much, but I accepted her eager gift. “Thank you.” She smiled, “I love you, sister.” I thought I would crumble, but the day was looking up.

Lured out to the balcony again later that morning, we were met with cake and juice. We smiled as we ate and watched the girls chattering and dancing and inspecting their bags of candy. My roommate Donna and I laughed and smiled and commented on how precious this day was for us. We saw Sarai, our little performer, and waved. She smiled and bounded up the stairs to us. She gave each one of us a piece of her candy. Donna was speechless, but as Sarai walked off she finally spoke, “Do you realize how big that is?” To be honest, at the moment, the significance of her treat had slipped by me. Donna explained, “She gave us her candy! It’s not like she gets that all the time, and she chose to give it away to us.” She looked at the wrapper in her hand, “I’m going to keep this.” (I love that lady… she shares the heart of Christ.) After day two of edging out walls and climbing up and down a ladder my back was hurting, and I knew that I needed to take a rest after lunch or I’d be no good for the rest of the week. I walked back to our room and pulled my “gifts” from my pocket with a smile. I turned the change purse with it’s love letter over in my hand. I now had two of them…two pink change purses with pirate skulls and the words, “Buried Treasure.” I was getting the message…He was pointing out His buried treasures. I was blessed to have discovered them. I picked up a book that Yolanda had given me and listened intently to the heartbeat of Daddy God as I rested.

During our rest time, two of the ladies had been plotting. Christine (the Yellow Rose of Texas) and Louanne were discussing something special they could do to show the girls our love and, more importantly, God’s love for them. Louanne wanted to “kidnap” them and take them to McDonalds in the city, but we convinced her that this would not be safe or possible on such short notice. She settled for ordering food into the compound. Christine took a more romantic approach and bought roses for each one of the girls and the workers. We would all pass them out at supper and were excited about our banquet!

I don’t think I can adequately describe the feeling in the dining hall that night. Kids were grabbing our hands, guiding us to tables, and calling out our names. I was led to a table by Alicia (my forever sister, or one of them) and Yeymie…I have to tell you about her. Yeymie is a precious little angel with dimples and a personality that goes on for days. She was abandoned by her mother when she was either an infant or a toddler. The woman that she was given to loved her and took care of her, and I believe that Yeymie really loves her and wants to be with her. Sadly, it was not an official adoption and years later after Yeymie’s mom had a couple more kids and needed some help taking care of them, she decided she needed her back. So, they went to court because the no one knew who was the real mother. The judge sent Yeymie, now 7, to the Prince of Peace Girls Home with the decision, “Whoever comes and sees her in the time specified, she is her mother.” Her biological mother has not visited her once. Her “adopted” mother comes as often as she can. Yeymie will most likely be going “home” soon.

That night I learned why God brought Yeymie there, no matter the short time. It was in the midst of Alicia and our leader, Karvin, teasing one another that she spoke. Alicia was telling Karvin her name was “Nada” meaning “nothing.” He pretended like he believed her, and then he asked, “Is that what is in your head?” She giggled and said, “Nooo.” Then he looked at her and smiled and asked, “Is that what is in your heart?” To which Yeymie in all seriousness piped up and said, “No. Jesus is in my heart.” She silenced Karvin, and she almost made me cry. I was reminded again, “These are My girls, Leslie… I AM rescuing them.” Right then and there I prayed for Yeymie and for Alicia, that they would always cling to their Savior.

After we had finished eating, Christine and Donna got up and sang with the girls, “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. Nothing can quite prepare you for hearing 50 kids and adults singing with a Spanish accent a song that says, “Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed. Thank you, for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave.” I was choking back tears as I tried to hold the video camera steady. I took the moment into my heart and soul as a forever memory with my forever sisters. Talk about your Valentine gift!

Donna, my beloved roommate on the trip, was the next to touch my heart. Slowly, so the girls could understand, she said to them, “There is no where else I would rather be and no one else I would rather be with than here with you on Valentine’s Day.” This was the heart of a woman that was still healing from a painful divorce and longing to be loved again. I looked at her, feeling the truth in every word that she spoke, and I felt God speak to me, “Tell her and Christine that I am loving on them as they love on my kids.” I started to cry. I never doubt the Father’s heart, but when I feel His desire so deeply and the delight He feels, it never ceases to take my breath away.

We ended the night as the girls made a line, and we handed out a rose to each one of them. I wish I had spoken Spanish because I wanted so badly to say, “This is how the Father sees you, as His perfect rose!” It’s probably good that I couldn’t. I have a feeling it would have come out sounding cheesy instead of passionate.

That evening, after group devotion time and as I pulled out my journal, my two change purses fell to the floor. They had been at the foot of my bed under my blanket. I smiled as I picked them up, “Buried Treasures and Perfect Roses what a Valentine’s Day it’s been.” I reached to put them in my suitcase when I felt a tug in my Spirit, the language of romance from the Lover of my Soul, “You, My Love, you, too, are a buried treasure, and I delight in you.” Sometimes in those moments of conversation, when His words seem too good to be true, I question if I am going crazy; after all, why would the Creator of the Universe speak such love to me? But, in the course of twenty four hours, two separate girls, at two separate times gave me the same gift with the same message. I don’t believe in coincidence, and like I said, I don’t doubt my Father’s heart. He is my Eternal Valentine, and He does delight in us and longs to lavish all of us with His love! Sadly, we don’t always let Him…nor do we realize that we are His Valentines.