Weakness is strength.

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Went to meet a couple of former colleagues for dinner. I wasn’t feeling well at all, but I was really missing these friends, so I decided to go anyway. On the way, I just cried out to God over the loss of my job and health insurance, constant pain, feeling sick and so much more. When I was done, I surrendered my life to God again, asking Him to use me. Then, as I pulled in to the parking lot, I felt I was to pray for someone.

I will just say right here that I am so stubborn and self-sufficient that I have to be gripping the end of my rope with my fingertips, flailing about with my legs and one free arm, before I will voluntarily turn over my life to Him. The rest of the time, I’m praying “equip me” prayers, which sound righteous, but they’re really just a cover for keeping God at arm’s length, essentially telling Him, “Don’t worry Lord, I’ve got this.” Now that I am broke, sick, destitute and unemployed, I have no other option but to give Him my “everything,” which in fact is nothing.

As I was touching up my makeup in the car so I could appear put together before my friends, I saw a couple make their way into the restaurant. The guy was on crutches and I wondered if he was the one I was supposed to pray for. Now this is always an awkward moment for me. Should I chase him down–wouldn’t be difficult–and ask if I can pray for him? If I do, would it be appropriate to “lay hands” on his injured foot? What if he looks at me like I’m crazy…or worse, what if his wife thinks thinks this is some kind of new pick up maneuver? And worst of all, what if I do pray for him and…Nothing. Whatsoever. Happens.

I was still wrestling through the proper prayer protocol when I heard a commotion outside my car. A man was clearly agitated, screaming after a woman who was trying to walk away from him. I wondered if I should go inside the restaurant to get reinforcements, but I wanted to make she was okay first. I opened my car door as the woman turned to look at the man. She uttered something I couldn’t hear. But the man heard it and it made him even madder. He got right in her face and by this time I was out of my car, cell phone in hand. The woman was hunched over, sobbing, and telling him to leave her alone. It looked like he was going to hit her, so I yelled at him to stop. He looked at me like I was crazy and yelled back that it was not my business. Somehow I stood my ground and said, “You just made it my business.”

I then approached the woman and asked her if she was alright…if she needed anything. I wondered if she would need a place to live, or some money, or groceries, but she just looked at me and said, “Can you pray with me?”

This was not at all what I expected.

So I put my arm around her and prayed for God’s protection…and for freedom. I can’t remember what was in the middle, but I hope it touched her in some way.

And then she turned and walked after the man. I saw them sit down outside for awhile and then they disappeared.

On my way home, I thanked God for this brief encounter. And I had to acknowledge that if I hadn’t been in such a raw and desperate place myself, I might have tuned out the yelling to go about my own business instead of allowing my life to intersect for a moment with hers.

God’s answer to my gratitude was silence. He didn’t download a list of ways I could have prayed more effectively or give me a seven-step strategy to start a restaurant parking lot ministry. Instead, I believe the corners of His mouth turned up a bit as He gave a slight nod in my direction.

And it was good.

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Orphan spirit.

sad child

God has been taking me to the end of myself and is starting to peel back some layers that I have ever so diligently been trying to keep intact.

Truth be told, I liked my layers. They protected me from the elements and they’re kind of cozy if you don’t mind snuggling in dysfunction, which apparently I didn’t.

But seasons change and now those layers that used to feel so comfy are choking me. There are days when I want to throw them all off at once, but God is patiently removing one layer at a time and clothing me in His truth. Today’s layer has to do with an orphan spirit. If you’ve been there, you know the feeling. You don’t belong anywhere, to anyone. You feel left out. Forgotten. Abandoned. It’s more than loneliness because it can actually be worse when you’re surrounded by people. They all seem to fit in with each other, but you…well, you don’t. You’re not one of them.

The orphan spirit can drive you to do all kinds of self-destructive things in a desperate attempt to find your tribe. Enough said.

My grandfather actually was an orphan and even though he married and had five children, he lived his life to the very end as a sad, fatherless child. God reminded me of this because the peeling process is painful (alliteration unintended). He wanted me to know that the hurt is a necessary alternative to a life of fruitless wandering.

As I was talking to Him about this orphan stuff and where it might have come from, I saw a picture of what the orphan spirit looked like. Just to be clear, I’m not saying I see spirits or demons. I’m just describing what popped into my mind as I was praying—a fat but sickly and shapeless overgrown baby. A big fat blob of a being that was attached to my side and feeding off me. As quickly as the image appeared, I wanted it gone. It was disgusting.

It hit me that this is a perversion of pregnancy, where you nurture the life within you for a time in order to ensure a healthy, whole, and separate human being. In contrast, you don’t give birth to this orphan spirit thing. It just continues to suck the life out of you, growing ever fatter, while you are diminished. You never deliver it. You get delivered from it.

What I saw was so grotesque that I immediately ran to Ephesians one and read aloud God’s declaration: He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world. I have been set apart and God sees me as His precious, unblemished child. Through Jesus I have been adopted as a daughter and, as such, share in His inheritance. I have a Father. A Brother. And a Tribe.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. | Romans 8:15-16

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