April Moore, the administrative assistant at Encounter Church writes:
We had a young family start attending within the last year. Gradually they have become more involved and attend regularly.
This young mother reached out to me because I had posted on social media about how I had dealt with depression and anxiety and how God had pulled me through that. (Another story for another time)
I knew leading up to this meeting that God was making a way and preparing me. I felt the weight of how important this meeting was going to be as the spirit led me to bring some resources and be prepared to bear a lot of private things with her. I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I didn’t even feel like I was doing the talking. I was really only functioning as a conduit through which life could be spoken to her as she was in a very dark and broken place. I came back that day and stood in my pastor’s office doorway and said to him, “I don’t think I’ve ever been made more prepared for a conversation in my life. All my life experiences seemed to lead into that conversation and my pain had a purpose.”
In a short amount of time, I have seen her and she is like a different person. I didn’t know much of the details as to what was happening. She kept telling me she was being told by God to share some of her story and she couldn’t wait for me to read it. I was in awe! Physical healing has taken place and I’m just in tears and abundantly blessed to be in a position of witnessing God at work in and around me.
This is Sarah’s story and I asked her permission to share it:
“I tend to be too wordy and struggle to keep my stories short. I also struggle to share personal things; as a very private person by nature, a post like this is way out of my comfort zone. However, God has been telling me that I need to share this small bit of how I’ve seen him working in my life in recent months. There is so, so much more to this story. Believe it or not, this long post is just a fraction of the ways I have seen God. I am trying to trust God 100% to tell me if, when, and how I need to share more. But I’ll start with this story of how God worked physical miracles in me to show me His presence and power.
Some of you know that around this time last year, I started having some struggles with my health. Long story short, after months of seeing doctor after doctor, declining daily, and some scary words being tossed around, I found out in February that I had Lyme disease.
The good news: Lyme is treatable. The bad news: 9+ months is a relatively long time to have undiagnosed Lyme, and there would be a chance that the bacteria in my blood had done permanent damage. While many of my symptoms diminished after a couple of months, the joint pain persisted.
One of the methods used in an attempt to reduce my pain was osteopathic manipulation therapy. After examining and working with me, my doctor advised me to stop going for walks because it was an obvious trigger for the Lyme-induced tendinitis in my knees. I didn’t listen and would end up in significant pain during and after all physical activity. Even a trip to the grocery store was painful.
I knew I had to give up going for walks.
Physical symptoms aside, in many ways I felt broken. I had for a long time. But in my brokenness God was still talking to me, guiding me, and fighting for me.
One day a couple of months ago, I recognized a nudge from God to reach out to someone, in particular, someone I didn’t know well and had only met a few months prior. He told me to ask if we could get together and talk. As someone with social anxiety, it was terrifying and way out of my comfort zone. Still, I asked if she’d be willing to meet up with me. She agreed. I had no idea what to expect.
A few hours before meeting her for lunch that day in early July, I even texted my husband – “what was I thinking?!” For some reason, I was so nervous. Perhaps this anxiety was from the enemy – as he knew good things were going to come out of this.
God was with her in her preparations to have lunch with me. I know this because everything she said that day, about a month and a half ago, went straight to my soul. It was exactly what I needed to hear in order to press the reset button where I had felt stuck for so, so long.
This conversation opened my eyes and ears to satan’s voice and to how overwhelmingly loud it had been in my life. I realized that he is going to try again and again to bring me down. I learned that I need to be diligent in putting on the armor of God every single day.
Most importantly, I realized that there was a part of me that was holding back and not completely handing my struggles over to God. As someone who has always taken her faith very seriously, it was a humbling experience to have to admit to God that perhaps I didn’t have it all figured out. I wasn’t trusting Him to the full extent and, consequently, I wasn’t experiencing His love and peace that He so desperately wanted for me to feel.
So that day, I recommitted my life to God. I let go as much as I could, and asked God to help me give the rest to Him.
I felt new. And I was new. Because that is how God works.
Then, I went home and put my two little ones in their double stroller and began walking. The tendinitis should have flared shortly after we began our walk. But I proceeded to go on the furthest and longest walk that I had ever been on. Inclines and declines, rough terrain, and even up my very steep driveway. Even though I knew better, I pushed past my limits and overworked myself, just as I’d learned time and time again not to do. I should have been in a lot of pain.
But I wasn’t.
I had no pain whatsoever.
Not long after that, I went for a run.
I am not a runner. I might have even gone as far as saying I almost despised running. I’d convinced myself years ago that I had exercise-induced asthma because, even when I was in the best shape of my life and felt like my body could run for miles, I couldn’t breathe. I remember my Phys. ed teacher stopping me during the mile run to ask I was okay because I had apparently been panting so hard! In addition to my trouble breathing, I also would experience severe itchiness in my legs anytime I ran. Post-Lyme, these symptoms should have been accompanied by pain.
I honestly would have been proud of myself if I ran for 1/10 of a mile without stopping.
While running, I looked at the clouds and I could feel God’s presence around me so much. He was with me. So I kept going and worshipping God. Praising God for renewing me. For bringing me out of the darkness. For being so, so good to me.
Before I knew it, I had run four miles without stopping. I was breathing perfectly fine, had no itchiness, and had barely even broken a sweat.
I did not train for this nor did I diligently work my way up to running four miles. I can’t say my ability to run this distance was a reflection of my hard work. It wasn’t, because I didn’t work hard. It just happened. Four miles may seem short in relation to what other people can do, but the point is that it was huge for me to be able to do this.
And the pain that I had grown accustomed to for nearly a year? It never came back. Not during my run, not after, never.
My story isn’t about fitness. It’s not about perseverance, hard work, or determination. It’s about God and what He can do as soon as we move aside and let Him in.
Am I going to go on to run marathons? Am I even going to consistently go for runs? Probably not. But who knows? Maybe running is in my future. But more importantly, I think my healing was God’s way of saying, “Sarah, look what I can do. I heard you laying everything down at my feet, and I’m showing you what I can do when you step aside and put me first. I’m here, Sarah, and this is only just the beginning.”
To my Christian friends, when was the last time you truly put all of your struggles in the hands of the Lord? How do you know when it may be time to do it again? Have you ever fallen into the same trap that I did, where you say you trust God but there’s still a part of you holding back?
To my non-Christian friends, when considering handing your struggles over to God, what do you have to lose?”