Alex came up behind me as I was standing in line. I thought he was checking out too, so I began to move things around to give him space on the conveyer. As I looked up though, he wasn’t taking anything out of his cart. He was just standing there with his hand outstretched towards me. I smiled and shook his hand.
“Thank you,” he said. “My back really does feel better.”
That’s the end of the story. For the beginning…well, I need to go back several hours. Earlier that morning I was sitting on the steps of the sanctuary platform. After a while of silence and thinking, I said, “I’m still scared, God. And all can I think that means is that Your love is not perfected in me yet.” I stood up and began to walk back and forth across the altar area. “I know that I don’t need to perform for You. But I also don’t want to reach out to people just because I know that it’s the right thing to do. I want this to be who I am because I love You and because I love other people like You do. I need this Father…I need Your heart.”
I love my Father. And I want His Kingdom come. So here’s my thinking: If it was love that brought Jesus to earth, and love that led Him to reveal the Father in everything He said and did, then it is love that builds the Kingdom of God. Simple. This by no means discounts the Word and the Spirit. I love my Father and I love His Word and Spirit. I’m just saying that if living the Word and following the Spirit is not an outflow of my love for God and His love for me, then it’s probably not His Kingdom I’m building.
When it comes down to it, following Jesus means loving the Father and loving others just like He did. After all, whoever claims to live in God ought to walk just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). When this is our perspective, there is no more “living my life and being Jesus”. Instead it becomes “dying to myself and living Jesus.” It may seem like simple semantics, but there is a difference. One starts with me and tries to move towards Christ. The other is just Christ through and through.
So when I went to the grocery store later that evening, I went with the intention of sharing the Kingdom with someone…anyone. I didn’t know with whom or how specifically. I just knew why—because I love my Father and I want to love whoever is in front of me just like He loves.
After praying for a lady who had hurt her leg and ribs in a fall, I got what I needed and decided to walk around for a bit. I passed a couple of aisles and while looking down another, I saw an older gentleman and I immediately thought, he has a hurt back. But after looking at him for a few moments more, I didn’t see him limping or showing any visible signs of pain. I started to walk away, but stopped. What if the Holy Spirit was showing me that, I thought. I guess there is only one to find out.
I circled around and met him on another aisle. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. He stopped and looked at me. “Do you have pain in your back?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, actually, I felt like God was showing me that.” I replied.
“Really? Yeah, I’ve had pain for a long time. Jumping out of airplanes will do that to you.”
He said his name was Alex (I’ve changed it out of respect), and he told me a little bit about his time in the 101st Airborne Division during the 70’s. After a minute or so, I asked him if I could pray for his back, to which he graciously agreed.
“Just so I know where you’re at, on a scale of one to ten, how badly does it hurt?”
“I’d say, about a five.” He replied.
I put my hand on his back and began to pray. “Father, I speak healing into Alex’s back. Your Kingdom come and Your will be done. Holy Spirit, come and do what only You can do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” After a moment, I asked him how it felt.
He began twisting a little, side to side. He tilted his head slightly and said, “You know what…it actually feels a little better.”
“Awesome. Let’s pray again and see God take all the pain away.”
“No,” he said. “That’s okay. I’m good.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m…” He began to move around again. “Well…something is happening. It’s tingling.”
“That’s God touching you. Because He’s a good Father and He loves you.”
We spoke for about a minute more. He didn’t let me pray again, but he expressed genuine gratitude. I thanked him, and we parted ways. I walked away partly excited yet partly saddened, thinking that things were incomplete. The moment had come and gone. Alex and I were done…but God wasn’t finished.
In the following several minutes, God did not stop healing Alex’s back, or working on his heart. And for the first time in almost four years of praying for people, someone sought me out to tell me what God had done. It was that simple. A little risk and a lot of love—and God did what only God can do.