They’ll Always Need Me?

“You can’t leave… I love you.”

“If I had known you weren’t staying forever, I would have come out to hear you more.”

“You can’t leave… I need you.”

“I’m so sorry for messing up so much. If that’s why you’re leaving, ask God to forgive me and stay. I love you.”

All four of those lines were uttered over and over again by various men and women last night as I prepared them for the fact that I wasn’t coming to work with them anymore. Most of them had become valuable friends and siblings in the Lord. Most of them would say anything in order to get a smile and to sit next to me so we could talk. Some of them made me feel as if I was indispensible to them coming to the Lord. 

That’s why I left.

Here’s the thing about ministry: It’s incredibly easy to do godly things and yet not even realize you’ve been blinded to the fact that God has truly taken a backseat. I wrote in my journal several weeks ago, “Jesus, praying for these men and women isn’t enough. I can’t step away from them. They need me too much.”

There are several other serious frustrations that led to my choice to leave a ministry that continues to hold a part of my heart. However, the fact that I had started to believe that prayer wasn’t enough, that God couldn’t make changes within the hearts of the men especially without my knowledge… That’s terrifying. The fact that accountability and my own spiritual health and Biblical accuracy had become an option rather than a necessity was just as sobering.

What many of these men and women will never know is that obedience to the Lord in stepping away from them hurt more than I ever expected. But if I had stayed, I wasn’t loving them– I was using them. The addiction to being needed is an incredibly hidden, yet overwhelmingly strong bondage.

If I couldn’t break that bondage myself, how could I ever expect these people I have learned to love to break that bondage themselves?

Why Prayer Hurts

I told the story often…

I was fresh off the plane from Alaska and sitting in a conference room filled with Midwest women. I was struggling with how Spiritually different Indiana felt compared to Alaska and wasn’t sure what to label “right” and “messed up.” The women I was surrounded by were all Christians.. and they were all verbalizing their struggles with their respective significant other.

No one suggested praying against the Spiritual Warfare that was so very obvious to my  otherwise spiritized mindset. No one suggested praying for their husbands and putting an end to the story telling. To say I was confused that the women didn’t see the roadblock and the silent weaving of the Devil’s snare in their lives would have been an understatement.

I never thought I’d find myself in the same position only two years later.

This morning, I woke up extremely hurt, somewhat angry and rather confused by everything and nothing all at the same time. (insert joke about females here). Without much thought, I started a mental list of what certain people needed to do to make my life better… and where they were falling short. I don’t need to tell you what was on the list, but it was confusing, ridiculous and completely unfounded. Anything that had any substance to it was so petty it could have been comical.

They need you to pray. It’s not about you. Pray for them. Now.

I heard the Voice prompt me quite firmly as I sat alone in the house this morning. I’m ashamed to say, that Voice shocked me. Complaining, worrying and stewing about people in my life was hurtful, but it took the spot light off of anything I was responsible for. 

I struggled to get my mind on the right track. I struggled to see why praying for the people I was fretting over was a good solution. I struggled to see that I wasn’t really being mistreated, unloved and manipulated.

… I struggled to see that it was Warfare.

Welcome to the part of the world where distractions from God are found more heavily in television, sex and drugs. Satan can slip in without any notice simply because your surroundings don’t give him any authority in the spiritual upheaval you call “normal.”

Being “Ready” and “Standing Firm” look different here. Oh, may I never be so distracted God can no longer get my attention and ask me to fight for what matters. 

Warped Healing

Just about every disabled person has a “healing” story. To be quite honest, disabled Christians can very easily sit around and crack jokes about “that one time I got prayed over.” Well, some of us crack jokes. Most of us cry while we try to joke because there’s nothing else we can do.

Asking God for healing for a disabled loved one is a beautiful thing. I’ve done it myself. There’s something amazing about realizing you’re entering into the Presence of the God who has the power to heal. I believe physical healing still happens today. But, Americans especially, have skewed the Biblical meaning of healing quite well.

I was six years old and the church we attended was my favorite place to be. Everyone knew my disabilities and everyone, for the most part, accepted me despite the fact that I “looked funny.” A darling, godly, older woman approached me one Sunday, took hold of my hand and said, “If you have faith I know that what I’m about to pray will heal you. If you don’t have enough faith to capture that healing, I believe I have enough faith to stand in the balance.”

What I heard?  (Remember, I was six) “Cassie, it’s all your fault if you don’t wake up in the morning without Cerebral Palsy. But I have this magic trick we’ll praise God for that will totally heal you because God is love.” I woke up the next morning and my Cerebral Palsy wasn’t gone. … I spent the next while doing my best to not be alone with the well-intentioned woman because I didn’t want to have to look her in the eye and ask her if she thought my child-like faith just wasn’t enough. I was afraid of the answer.

It had nothing to do with my “faith-level” and it had nothing to do with my friend’s ability to “perform healing” well. Nothing. It had everything to do with the fact that healing me was not to benefit God’s glory nor was it actively proclaiming His presence to anyone that needed that proof. 

I’m going to say something that may get my fellow comrades ready to kill me. The reality is, God has “shown up” for more nonbelievers by keeping me in this wretched body than He probably could have by giving me a story that sounds very much like a “once upon a time, you’ll never believe it, but…”

At the same time, God has come into more conversations because people quickly figure out I don’t form my hand in that uncomfortable position because it’s “fun.” If I didn’t have my body and seizures as a prop, I’m seriously convinced God would rarely come up in conversation. People say I’m outgoing and bold. The only successful vehicle God has used to make me that way is my deformed body. Why would He make something obsolete that He’s using so well?

Don’t stop praying for healing for those God has laid on your heart to pray for. But don’t be surprised if you feel as if His answer is a loving, yet firm, “no.” Healing is often prayed for out of convenience yet we promise God we’ll “praise Him forever if…” That is not the original intention of the miracle and gift of healing. 

What it boils down to? When you pray for healing, God’s greatest, eternal gift may be the healing of a broken, bitter and confused heart.

Begrudging Grace

There are days I down right, absolutely detest grace. 

Before you throw me to the wolves, hear me out…

Grace is a foundational platform of our salvation through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. 

-Without grace we wouldn’t be forgiven of the sins that force us to fall short of perfection. 

– Without grace our eternal after-life would be void of Jesus… Literal and physical Hell combined. 

Grace is a precious thing. I like that kind of grace. It’s that type of grace which allows me to think back on a scenario, see a brutal mistake I made and think, “Thank you, Jesus, that your position as God isn’t diminished because I messed up. Thanks for using me despite my <insert shortcoming here>. 

But what about the grace every fiber in my being says I shouldn’t need? 

The grace I have to look for in another human being when: 

– I need help walking because my legs decided to take a day off.

– I need someone to extend me grace in seeing my worth despite the fact I’m really quite convincingly helpless in more areas than one. 

… I struggle with hating that grace. Why? Because I get caught up in believing my worth lies in the balance of whether the other person is obedient in extending it or not. 

Worthless. Invaluable. Hated. Pitied. Scathed. I struggle with hating grace when the lack of its presence in a person leaves me feeling those things. 

I want my independence and I want my worth to be so strong my presence screams those characteristics. Often times, however, it doesn’t scream anything except, “Do you still think I’m lovable despite my neediness?”

Grace comes at a price. First and foremost, the price was (once for all eternity) the Son of God. 

But now, post-payment, (post-resurrection of the Son, hallelujah!) receiving grace comes at the price of sacrificing my pride and my independence. As a Christian, I’m called to be with other believers. 

That means I need them and they need me. The only way we thrive as a unit is through grace… Even when it hurts more to receive it than to give it. 

Hesitant Reminders

Tonight was my last night with a two month commitment that started 18 months ago. A commitment that was supposed to be simply filling in as an interpreter for a short time turned into TTY phone calls, letters and weekly visits for 18 months.  

I loved it from the get-go. I dreaded it every Wednesday from the get-go. The look on the man’s face tonight reminded me why I never “called in sick”. The deep hug as he walked out the door for the last time reminded me why I never acted on the grumbling and frustrations I always seemed to have at the last minute.

God wanted me involved in this man’s spiritual growth. I agreed to it because “two months” sounded incredibly noncommital. Exhausted college students like noncommital things. God kept me coming even past the two month commitment date because He knew I needed that connection to the culture and language of my heart.

I learned seeveral things about ministry while loving up on this man for almost the past 2 years.

1) The more you dread the task, the more God’s work shocks you.

2) Most of what God does through you is incredibly miniscule and unseen– that’s okay.

3) The more you tell God you’re too weak to serve, the longer He surprises you with the strength to serve anyway.

4) You can go in thinking people need you and you will always leave feeling as if you needed them.

5) The second you learn to trust God with your time, resources and energy, He’ll trust you with His time resources and energy.

6) Heart involvment isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.

I closed the chapter of a huge part of my heart this evening as this man and I said our final good byes. He started out as a mission of mine and ended up a friend who taught me just as much as he learned from me.

Welcome to the unsung beauty of missions, Friends. Missions isn’t always romantically beautiful… but it can stlil change your life forever.