Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all. ~ D. L . Moody1
March rolled in with a vengeance. Three feet of dirty snow was piled in the gutters of New York City with no sign of reprieve. It was the harshest winter I’d known, yet spring budded in my heart. Roots of new life grew deep, although the green leaves of freedom would not fully unfurl for a while. I claimed for myself the words of Psalm 1. I would be a tree planted by streams of water, and trust fruit would come when it was supposed to. I looked for clues of that coming fruit with expectation. Channeling my childhood hero, Nancy Drew, I became an amateur detective, looking and listening for evidence of what God was doing in and around me.
The church plant we were a part of, Trinity Grace TriBeCa, prepped for Easter, for celebrating the resurrection. We felt an urgency we couldn’t explain to gather weekly in homes, get on our knees and pray. It was a tender time. I remember thinking, I can only imagine the life forming beneath the harshest of winters. Spring might astonish us all.
It was three years after my healing from anxiety, and my schedule required me to travel most Fridays, so I spent Thursdays praying and preparing. One Thursday while praying out loud, I paused mid-sentence and said something out of the ordinary. “I sense that I’m supposed to ask for the spiritual gift of healing.”
Whoa, I thought. Did that just come out of my mouth? My own words surprised me. I’d never felt prompted to specific action right in the middle of prayer. Of all things, a prayer for the gift of healing isn’t high on the list unless you want to be criticized or ostracized. But it kind of made sense. I’d encountered many stories of suffering in my travels, and I was often left unsure how to best respond. Maybe this was a way God wanted to use me. I felt a pull to surrender.
I knelt down and simply obeyed without overthinking it, praying, “Jesus, You tell us to ask for more of the Spirit2, so, here goes. I’m asking You for the gift of healing if you want me to have it.”
I sat in silence for a while. Yes, I believe God is the Great Physician; He showed Himself to me as such. But I also couldn’t explain it, and I was therefore uncomfortable talking about it. Even so, I sensed God was leading me to ask Him for the gift of healing, so I followed His prompting.
Unsure of what to do next, I remembered the saying, “Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.”3 I bundled up to battle the eleven-degree temperature, left my apartment building, and headed for the Hudson Riverwalk across the street.
The boardwalk was empty, thanks to a windchill in the single digits.
With early morning go-getters already at work, I had the path all to myself. I walked south along the river toward the adjacent pier, alone with my thoughts. The winter morning was silent. I could only hear the waves lapping against the barnacles on the wood pilings beneath me. I gazed across the Hudson toward the Statue of Liberty, her verdigris silhouette interrupting the sky. I pondered the meaning of her arm held aloft, bearing a torch for liberty and freedom. She stood brave and strong, broken chains around her ankles, these words engraved inside the pedestal below:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It was clear, the need for freedom affects everyone. Aren’t we all huddled masses?
Jesus responds, Come to Me. I’ll break your chains, whatever they are.
Right then, gazing across the Hudson, I confessed: I have no idea how this healing thing works. Uncharted territory is scary. Help me pray for healing any time you prompt me to. Give me courage to pray with anyone who asks. And above all, give me greater faith, your faith, to believe anything is possible.
Nothing is beyond the power of the cross and resurrection.
Some moments in life are God-directed. Not in a metaphorical sense, but in a literal, walk-along-the-boardwalk sense. These moments can feel random, even nonsensical. Sometimes it’s almost as if God is asking us to follow Him out of the apartment, out of the neighborhood, maybe even to the water’s edge. I believed God was leading me somewhere — but where? Why did He direct me to ask for something so scary and big? Was He drawing me further into freedom?
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1. Dwight Lyman Moody, Prevailing Prayer: What Hinders It (New York: F.H. Revell, 1885), 90.
2. Luke 9:13
3. Origin unknown
Excerpted with permission from You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons, copyright Rebekah Lyons.
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Do you feel free to ask God for whatever you need — even things way out of your comfort zone? Today, sit with the Lord and wait. Listen for what He may be leading you to ask. Then, come share with us! We’d love to hear what You are asking! ~ Devotionals Daily
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