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Posts Tagged ‘prayer ministry training’

pexels-photo-461252There we were on Christmas day, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. I had put some cherries out for us to enjoy and offered one to our three-year-old granddaughter.

‘These are lovely, Maxine. Would you like one?’ I said.

She gazed at them for a moment, then came out with this profound statement.

‘I don’t like cherries because I’ve never had them before!’

Now that obviously made complete sense to her. After all, surely if her parents hadn’t given them to her before this, then those funny red things with stems must be yucky! I remembered too the response of one of our own children, when faced with eating something they hadn’t tasted previously. ‘I won’t like it!’ they would say, obviously fearful of what lay ahead.

Sadly, I suspect I can be like Maxine at times, or that child of ours.  Often I can be very picky—but more so with books than food.  I may find myself turned off by a cover I dislike or the quality of the paper or the size of the print. I don’t mind small print, but I do object when a large font is used and those lines are spread so far apart and the margins are so wide, making that book too insubstantial for me and not worth the money I paid for it! Yet some smaller books I own have turned out to be absolute gems, such as Henri Nouwen’s Out of Solitude or Eugene Petersen’s The Wisdom of Each Other.

Much sadder than pre-judging books, however, are the times I have pre-judged people because of their appearance or something different about them. The biggest lesson I learnt in this regard occurred around twenty-five years ago when I met a young woman at a prayer training course. At first, after discovering she was blind, I avoided her. I felt I would not know how to relate to someone who could not see. And, to my shame, I was reluctant to put myself out to help her. Yet God drew us together—and that young woman taught me so much about myself, about courage, about perseverance, about relating to those who suffer from any degree of vision impairment.

A few years later, I found myself at another course where most participants were from a different part of the Body of Christ. ‘They won’t be able to teach me anything much,’ I decided in complete arrogance. Yet their kind acceptance, attentiveness and intelligent conversation turned out to be a wonderful, healing gift from God for me.

Now I’m hoping there aren’t too many others of you out there like me who are practised pre-judgers.  I hope you taste those cherries or look carefully at those smaller books before making up your mind. I hope you listen to and accept others, however different they are. And I hope I do too more and more. But above all, if Jesus Christ is someone unfamiliar to you, I hope and pray that, in the coming year, you may not pre-judge or write him off too quickly but instead take time to get to know him, to experience his amazing love and to taste his absolute goodness for yourself.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

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Sometimes it’s the simple truths that have the most profound impact on people. I learnt this lesson all over again last week—and I hope I remember it this time.

I had just finished speaking at a meeting when, in response to a question, I decided to share a brief story of something that happened many years ago now. The ladies present had all been patiently listening to my input, but their heartfelt reaction to this story I shared almost as an afterthought opened my eyes again to the simple, powerful truth it demonstrates.

The events in this story took place in a small group during a short ministry training course. There were five women in our group, including our wonderful facilitator, Joy, who counselled and prayed for us with such gentle wisdom and insight. As we took it in turns to share any difficulties we might be facing in applying what we were learning to our lives, Joy listened carefully—to both God and us. This was never more obvious than on the day one older group member told us how she had never felt loved as a child, particularly by her father, and how that had affected her so much throughout her life—and still did. I can’t remember now all the conversation that unfolded in response to what she shared, but I clearly remember what our facilitator suggested we do.

‘Mary, would you like us to hold you and sing to you? Perhaps Jesus loves me, this I know?’

I remember how strange I thought this suggestion was at first, but I soon changed my mind.

‘That would be lovely!’ Mary immediately responded.

As a group, we gathered around her and our facilitator held her close. Then we began singing together—

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

‘Oh, that’s so wonderful! Sing it again, please!’ our friend cried out, when we finished.

‘Oh, please sing it again—it’s so wonderful!’ she repeated several times over the next few minutes, whenever we stopped singing.

I will never forget the ecstasy in her voice as she begged us to keep going and the joy and delight radiating from her face as we did just that. She almost literally shone, as the love of Jesus and of our perfect Father God was poured into her by the Holy Spirit. How healing it was for her to have us sing this simple little song over and over again to her! I know that she too remembers this event to this day, around twenty years later.

As I recounted this story to the women at the meeting last week, I expected to receive some rather puzzled looks. After all, what I had described was rather unusual and I feared they might not understand. Instead, it was almost as if a gentle, collective sigh spread across the group. Most women responded with warm smiles—and some seemed quite touched and a little emotional. As I stood there, I realised this story was probably the most significant thing I had shared with them that day. It was the simple truth they too needed to hear. God had brought it to my mind, I believe—and I felt very humbled.

Jesus loves me—this I know!

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