Do you ever see Christians on TV praying eloquent prayers and think, “They’re perfect”? They serve the poor, dish soup in a shelter, collect shoes for the homeless. I try doing those things, but life gets in the way. Best-laid plans and all that.
Those perfect people sometimes make me feel defensive, and I resent instead of admiring them. God, in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New, repeatedly used flawed people to carry out their work. Perfection is not required. A willing heart is.
Characters in my stories sometimes make wrong decisions. They’re selfish. They don’t turn to God right away when things go wrong. But they try. They call out to God eventually and learn through life experiences they can trust him.
I experienced this a while back. I sell my books in Kroger grocery stores. Passing shoppers stop at the table I set up and chat with me. This day, a youngish man walked directly to me (which was odd… most wander by with a cautious eye, unwilling to commit until they’re sure why I’m there). Nothing about my display makes it obvious I write Christian fiction, so I’m unsure what drove him to my table. Straight on he came, though.
During our conversation, I learned he was visiting Texas from his home state of Florida. He’d been here only three days and had been to four different churches. I asked if he came to speak at those churches, but he didn’t. Just attending. I was confused about his purpose, but he was so enthusiastic, I gave up making sense of it.
He asked if he could pray for me.
He put one hand on my shoulder and gripped my hand in his other. He asked if I had any pain.
This threw me. I was unprepared. Surprised, I tossed out the first thing I thought of. “My hip flexor sometimes hurts.”
He began praying. Loudly. Using all the “Christian-ese” words like “hedge of protection” and “healed by Your stripes.” I flinched inside.
You’re drawing attention to us.
People are probably staring.
Then I heard a whisper in my heart.
Listen to his words. Claim the promises he is calling down for you.
I listened. To the holy nudge and to the young man. A smile crossed my face as my new friend claimed healing for my body. He was so sure. Why couldn’t I be the same way? I was just like my characters. Stubborn. Unwilling. Unsure.
He finished his prayer, and I hugged him. Whew. Quite an experience. I wished for that faith.
Ten minutes later, a sparkling feeling—imagine what Tinkerbell’s wand might feel like if it touched you— fluttered through my hip joint. I kid you not.
I was afraid to move. Movement would be a test to see if my hip really had been healed, revealing my doubt. And, if I doubted, would it cancel out the healing?
I so totally identify with the Roman soldier who told Jesus, “I believe.” Then, in the same breath, begged, “Help my unbelief.”
I believe Mark shared this story to tell us it’s okay if we sometimes waver. We see with this story we can ask Jesus for help.
Help me believe, Jesus. I want to believe.
And when we pray in his will, he answers that prayer.
Don’t worry if you’re not perfect. God doesn’t demand perfection. He asks for an open heart. That we can do.
My latest book, A Father’s Gift, is now available on Amazon. Book two in the San Antonio series, it continues the story of Abby and Manny who you first met in Protected. Originally published in the Christmas anthology, Christmas Love Through the Ages, it is now a stand-alone book published by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
If you missed book one, (Protected), for a limited time, you may download the eBook version for only $0.99. Check them out.