By Linda Pelfrey
I am powerfully reminded that when God wishes to reveal his plan to us, it will keep appearing until we say, “Okay, I hear you.” For me, it was the theme surrounding the name we are given. A verse from Isaiah, which says in part, “I have called you by name, you are mine,” kept showing up in my consciousness.
One day, the process of God speaking a theme into my heart came full circle. I felt God at work the moment I woke up. My spirit was on fire in a way that left me open to hearing God’s voice. I had been invited to attend a conference focusing on the power of the Holy Spirit. After listening to the faith narratives of two remarkable pastors from Cuba, it was time for prayer and laying on of hands.
Here is where my belief was affirmed that God has one twisted sense of humor (in a good way!). As a young woman, I felt trepidation and major anxiety when zealous Christians talked about healing my blindness. So, I experienced a desire to get up and run not walk out of this place. I blurted out to one of my companions: “I’m not going to the altar. I can’t do the ‘laying on of hands’ thing, because inevitably, someone wants to pray for my physical sight.” Then, to my shock, I began to cry. I mean full-on, wrenching sobs which were torn from my being. My heart felt like someone was smashing it against a rock into a zillion pieces.
I babbled something about trauma, and how I felt the misery of all those who have been hurt to the core of their soul by what happens in some churches. Many persons with disabilities avoid church because of how they are treated. No one wants to be where they feel “less than.”
I struggled to breathe through all the sensation. Sitting with this raw emotion depleted my physical strength, and I started to shake and feel nauseous.
Then, a man I had never met was in my face asking if he could pray for me. My sarcastic thought in the moment was, “Dear Lord, I guess these folks just can’t miss the opportunity to hit up the ‘blind chick.’” I was raised to be polite at all costs, particularly when someone is chomping at the bit to pray for me. So the “good girl” said, “Yes.”
I was feeling shattered… and kept saying the word “trauma,” repeatedly. He did not know of my past experience with folks wanting to heal my blindness, so, in his Spirit-filled zeal, he asked if he could pray for my sight to be restored. I confess I was “feeling some kind of way” toward God and this random dude. I said, “I’m good with being blind, but you can pray for my spiritual sight.” I found out later that there was a language difference; still, the gentleman was sincerely trying to hear me. Perhaps he was disappointed that I wasn’t there to have my blindness cured, but he took it in stride.
Here is where everything becomes blurry… one praying person turns into many. This “blind chick” (who has an aversion to physical contact) has hands on my face, shoulders, and of course… my eyes. I never fell into a heap on the floor, but I was encircled by a powerful and healing presence. I will never forget the heat reaching from hands straight into my soul. I pray I do not lose that memory or its power to remind me that God is real and loving.
The Holy Spirit took over, and no matter what the original intent… these prayer warriors were guided to pray for exactly what I needed in that moment. The wrenching pain field—the kind that breaks God’s heart—was transformed into a peace and a cleansing, healing fire.
When I came back to full consciousness, there was a woman standing beside me. She said, “I couldn’t see your name tag, so I asked God for your name.” He told me, “I call her Joy-bringing Daughter.” My response was laughter, because I am many things… but joyful isn’t the word that comes immediately to mind. I have a salty nature, and am often quite irreverent and snarky. I then recalled that the word “joy” had come up several times in conversation with my companions that day. Also, I had expressed that God is calling me to something, and I don’t quite know what it is. I knew right then that if I listen God will continue to speak his purpose into my spirit.
I learned many lessons that day: God is not without a sense of humor. When you feel called to a path which makes no sense to the human heart, stay on it. God knows what he is doing.
As I walk through the Season of Lent, I keep the eyes of my heart on living out the name God has given to me. Sure, I still chuckle a little at the “joy” part because I am still salty and irreverent. And yet… with all my imperfections and scars, I remain beloved daughter of the Lord.