i had the most incredible experience at church yesterday. it left me absolutely floating the entire day (i think this was the "consolation" part i have been waiting for, since i have felt so desolate in my spirit for so long).

i visited my friend Pastor Charlie's church (for the third time) yesterday and arrived in plenty of time (last time i went, i was a tiny bit late!) i saw several people i knew in the vestibule and received the biggest was so tremendously welcoming and warm. i sat by myself (i wouldn't impose myself on anyone, even though i knew several people there) and enjoyed tremendously the praise & worship music. Pastor spoke on Revelation, which was compelling and engaging. this scribe took notes.

but what happened afterwards took me by surprise. as services were ending, people were invited up to be prayed over in a really unobtrusive way -- it didn't feel like an "altar call," it was simple and sweet. i was avoiding eye contact with Charlie because the last time i spoke with him, he had mentioned something about praying over me after church and that was way past my comfort zone. i was talking with friends, looked around and he had me in his crosshairs -- he motioned me over, i shook my head furiously *NOOOOO* and he did it again.

i went.

i moved up to the front of the church, toward the front pew (ironically next to a box of tissues) and took a seat. Pastor moved in, invited the elders and other pastors of the church to come over and honest to God, they descended upon me and several put their hands on me and touched my arms. i was asked how they could pray for me and i looked up at Charlie in earnest and implored him with my eyes not to make me do this and he simply nodded in encouragement to *go ahead* and i mentioned i am having problems with my addictions and am truly desirous of being healed and have troublesome health issues that i most certainly desire healing from. Pastor Bill anointed my head with oil in the sign of the Cross and prayed James 5: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord...and then something from Hebrews, but i was already being unmade.

these kind people, some of whom i didn't know, prayed over me as their sister in Christ and such warmth coursed through me, it was unbelievable. Pastor Charlie ended with an incredible prayer (he certainly knows me, brokenness and all, as he has been counseling me over the last several months) and i sat there and simply said "amen" and "thank you" when they were anointed me with oil, my cup overflows.

i reached for the tissues and my friend from work, Lydia, slid in next to me, hugged me, and said "do you know how much you are loved?" i honestly felt it; it was unlike anything else i have ever experienced.

as i gathered my things and walked toward my car in the parking lot, past the children playing soccer and families that were still outside, talking to one another, i was reminded of Isaiah 43:4: " are precious in My sight, and honored, and I love you."

it actually felt good to be in my skin for the first time in years; all was grace.


sue said...

I'm at a loss for words..what a beautiful post! Amazing Grace!

kristin said...

Oh my dear Penni...if only you could see the smile on my face, as I read (and re-read) your words. What an experience of (in?) grace, mercy, faith, healing and love...

Now I realize that there may be some other denominations that may be "suspect" (uncomfortable, perhaps?) of a blessing such as this...but that doesn't negate what you have seen/felt/known in your own your own spirit. {I wrote in a comment a few days back about the various Christian denominations being more alike, than different....and that we are UNITED by our LOVE (not divided by our differences).} What you experienced WAS a free-flow of GRACE & LOVE....and it's okay to relish it, baske in it...breathe it in, time and time again. I am SO happy for you, that you had the courage to step out, in faith, beyond your "comfort zone", to RECEIVE this gift that God had waiting for you! It's TRUE: "Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." It's clear that you love Him, Penni. Your desire & longing is genuine & powerful. Look at the doors & windows He is opening for you, daily!

Thank you for sharing your grace-filled day with us. My heart has been a little weary & discouraged the last few days, and your experience has lifted my spirit and renewed my strength...reminding me of some things I needed to be reminded of...especially now.

My mom used to have a saying that she used (and she still does) was simple (and I have heard it repeated many times over the yrs): "Let go and let God". Which is a "modern-day" version of so many of the Psalms....Yes! He does love you! Yes! He does care what you are going through...and you are NOT alone! Yes! MANY people (near and far) ARE praying for you, Penni! And I am grateful & humbled to be among them.

May God continue to bless you, guide you and inspire you!! Yes, what Sue said is so truly IS "amazing grace".

ukok said...

I'm delighted that you had such an awesome experience yesterday. God is good, God is Great!

[rhymes_with_kerouac] said...

What a joy it was to read this.

Absolute joy!

onionboy said...

Peace be with you.

Jayne said...

I can just feel your peace Penni... how wonderful to have intentional hands on your physical self lifting up prayer. How very powerful.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Communal prayer is a powerful thing. We would all do well to remember James admonition to lay hands on those needful and pray for healing. I'm glad this was an experience of God for you.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

Praise God!

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I met a priest in Lourdes back in May. He blessed me as we parted after sharing lunch on a park bench. Strangely enough, the phrase about being precious and loved seemed to sing in my head then as well.