By Susan Fiedler
Have you ever found yourself hurrying and scurrying to get ready for church or synagogue services and then wondered, “What’s the point?”
Let’s check out a couple of passages from the Bible and see if it offers guidance.
First, a true story. Except for my family, names have been changed to protect … the blessed.
Brent and I were asked to minister at a women’s retreat. Some of our longtime friends were donating their time to serve those enrolled. Also, our younger daughter, Amber, was one of the women participating in the retreat itself.
Brent and I and many other people had invested time in prayer before the retreat, but once it started there was little free time to pray individually. We had put the weekend in God’s hands, and we proceeded to serve the participants confidant that He had it in control.
Almost right at the beginning a young woman I’ll call Anna slipped while descending from the choir loft. She had had back surgery already in her young life, so this was not to be taken lightly.
She had known us for years, so it was natural for her to ask us to anoint her with oil and to pray for healing. (See James 5:13-15)
A whole group gathered around her to pray. If any were unfamiliar with praying and anointing with oil for healing, they didn’t say.
But God didn’t heal her. <sigh> We needed every serving body to be at their best. So Anna just gritted her teeth and decided to plow on through the pain.
The next day we were at lunch when Debbie, one of the participants, complained of a migraine, and our daughter Amber proceeded to do something very uncharacteristic. As she rose to offer to rub Debbie’s head and neck, she suggested that her Dad anoint her and pray for healing. She almost never did that!
Debbie followed through on the suggestion, and all the people at Debbie’s table, plus others milling around, watched Brent pray and anoint her.
That evening I ran into my long-time friend, Kathy. As I hugged her she told me that she was afraid she would have to go home. She was suffering from lower intestinal distress.
I didn’t stop to get my oil. I simply prayed for her healing right then and there.
Kathy stepped back and with wide eyes said, “Did you feel that?”
I hadn’t felt anything.
Kathy told me she felt something like heat from electricity go through her from the top of her head to her feet, and she was no longer sick.
Of course, I had anointed her with expectation of healing, but I wasn’t in any particularly “holy” mood. I was busy going to and fro, but God had other plans.
The next morning, I happened to sit next to Debbie’s sister, Darlene, at breakfast. She was serving on the team, too, but feared she’d have to leave for the same reason.
I didn’t bow my head. I didn’t move my lips. I didn’t do anything that would indicate that I was silently praying. In just a moment she leaned back in her chair, looked at me with wide eyes, and said, “I felt that from my head to my toes. My sister told me she had been healed of her migraine, but I didn’t believe her. I believe now!”
That afternoon the women had an opportunity to share. Some confessed sins they were struggling with. Anna had a longtime friend admit that she had resented Anna for years. Hearing that, Anna confessed that she, too, had harbored resentment against this sister in Christ. After tearful hugs, Anna noticed that her back no longer hurt. God had healed her according to His timing.
Neither Brent nor I felt particularly holy or focused as God healed these people. We just showed up and let God do the rest. Are there behavior requirements for believers? Yes! How can the world discern that Yeshua (Jesus) is risen if we don’t have His light coursing through us? After all, He commanded in Matthew 24:18, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life….” (MSG)
But the power to preach that message and to walk in that way comes from the Father.
In Luke 24:49 and 53 we’re told, “I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.” So “they spent all their time in the Temple praising God.” (MSG)
They obeyed in eager anticipation. After all, they knew that the festival of Shavuot was just around the corner. What an exciting ten days it must have been, praising God for what He had done and joyously waiting for the manifestation of the next step in His plan. Shavuot is the Hebrew name for the festival of Pentecost. This year Pentecost falls on Sunday, June 9. Are you excitedly anticipating the next step in His plan? Rejoice! Worship! Praise God! Then, show up. Just show up, and He’ll take care of the rest.