“What eye has not see and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Cor 2:9
When Phil asked if I would write something for the newsletter about what the Lord has been doing in my life I said “Sure, I’d be glad to.” Every time I tried to begin I was stopped dead in my tracks. I can’t do this! It hit me this weekend that what was wrong is that it is not my story at all. The story belongs to God and the faith community.
This is a love story between an individual and a people of faith. God has revealed himself intimately and powerfully through the gracious mediation of individuals, through The Word of God community, Renewal Ministries and Christ the King Parish - and I am blown away!
Can I pray with you? Have you ever thought about the fact that an offer to pray with someone might just change their whole life? Last Fall I joyfully returned to fulltime status as a student at Sacred Heart Major Seminary after a long siege of serious illness. After the first week one of my classes was moved to a newly renovated classroom equipped for videotaping. The chemicals given off by the carpeting and the adhesive were inflaming my lungs and I struggled to breathe.
Dr. Peter Williamson, my professor for Johannine literature, asked if I would like to pray for healing. As Peter prayed over me, all of the things that had been burdening my heart were lifted off in one great act of mercy and forgiveness. Part of the prayer was about how much Jesus loves me and wants to heal me. I couldn’t quite grasp it. “Maybe everyone else, but not me. I am not a saint but a sinner.” The spiritual healing was so amazing that at the time I was not aware of anything else.
Going back in my journal I wrote:
I walked out of the seminary with a marvelous sense of lightness and literally the breath of God. I have not struggled to breathe this afternoon. I am drawn deeper into relationship with Christ and the unfolding mystery of what God has designed for my life. I am humbled in the face of God’s revelation.
I couldn’t wait for the next class period to come so that I could report back the good news of the healing miracle! “The most amazing thing has happened! I can breathe - but the chemicals in the room are still making my lungs burn.” Peter again offered to pray for healing and immediately the burning in my lungs ceased and has not returned. In the next journal entry I wrote:
I am filled with such peace and joy, awash in the quenching water of life. This sacred space, this holy ground is food for the journey. I revel in the delight of the Lord and know beyond any doubt that I am being led - where and to what I do not know but what God begins he always blesses.
I have never experienced such powerful prayer. I am healing at many levels and I am reduced to silence in the face of awe.
I am home About a month later during prayer for healing I was baptized in the Spirit and my life took a radical turn in the Lord. I asked Peter what kind of a faith community sustained the kind of faith and power of healing that he possessed. He told me about Christ the King parish and The Word of God community.
When I attended the first Mass at Christ the King my only response afterward was “I am home.” Here was a faith community whose worship was in harmony with their living faith.
Welcome to the family The next great event was an invitation to come to a Word of God prayer meeting. So many expectations of who God is and how God is had already been transformed and here came another one! I remember how amazing it was to be welcomed into the community with such incredible warmth and love, sight unseen, just because I am a daughter of the Lord! Marsha looked out for me as a sister (and she still does).
The whole community is a reflection of the Father’s love for his bride and the worship and praise slowly began to transform my life. The faith of the community is so confident and joyful in the Lord that the intimate relationship that began with the first healing prayer took on a new shape with an outward movement. In those early weeks all I seemed to be able to say was “I had no idea! I really had no idea!” The Bridegroom’s love for his bride is astonishing!
Letting God be God What God began in September he has deepened without letting up. God continues to reveal himself and manifest his glory without any merit on my part. The formerly shy and quiet woman of old, through God’s outpouring of love, will now sit beside a perfect stranger waiting for an oil change or a passenger on an airplane and start talking about Jesus.
What I have discovered through the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit is that lives are transformed before our very eyes when we let God be God. Recently on a trip to Colorado I prayed with my Aunt that the Holy Spirit would lift a heavy burden from her and give her wisdom and peace. The answer was immediate and profound. While in Colorado I received a call from a friend of my mother’s that a long time acquaintance suffered a mishap during surgery and that they were on the way to the hospital to take him off life support. When I hung up the phone I immediately prayed to the Lord who knows all and can heal all that if it be God’s will “Lord you can turn this situation all around. Show your glory Lord!” Two days later she called back to say that when they got to the hospital, her father sat up and asked what everyone was doing there!
In the powerful words of Nathan Mitchell:
If you hope to become part of God’s reign, you must let yourself be overtaken, knocked breathless, by a Presence, a Reality you can neither invent nor control. In a word, you have to open your life to the holy violence of conversion - a tumultuous experience that is liable to leave you feeling drenched and exhausted, as though the seas had seized, swallowed and spat you back alive on the shore. Newborn and salted, you sense that nothing looks the same, nothing can ever be the same.
(The Kingdom of Justice Modern Liturgy Oct. 1991): 8)
Giving is the key The living water that Jesus promised continues to gush up to eternal life. Through The Word of God community I have learned that the only way to keep from drowning in the gushing water of grace is to keep giving it away. The faster you give, the faster it comes. I have learned is that when we ask God for more (more grace, more courage, more abundance, more intimacy, etc.) that God’s “more” is far more than we can even imagine. Just when I think that I should not come before the Lord pleading for his intercession one more time, he surprises me with himself.
And this is why, my brothers and sisters, I had trouble even beginning to write to you and share my experiences. When I realized that it is all about God and you, about how you have reflected God to me and the might and power of your presence in my life, THEN my eyes were opened and my heart was able to pour itself forward in praise and honor of the one who loves us beyond his own life. And all that I can offer you is thanks, simply and humbly - thanks. Praise be to God on high!”
“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, ...
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those who gone down to the Pit.
...You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”
Grace abounds! The Spirit of God has blown into my life with such a mighty force that I need the community, which knows that it is all about God, and nothing about us. It is so crystal clear that it is God being God in God’s way. And how marvelous to have an avenue for genuine, unadulterated, unabashed praise of God! Thank you for your continued welcoming and encouragement.
God is calling me forth in powerful ways and I try to remember that he wants me to simply stand before him in faith and trust and confidence. It takes a community to raise each of us to holiness. I thank God for you in my life and the life I have been given through you in the Lord.