Archive for March, 2009

A Little Girl named Hope

A Little Girl Named Hope

It was midnight when my daughter, Kelly, called.  I was alone on the porch outside praying, just me and God.

I had been wrestling in prayer for God to rip out all the ugly stuff that was buried deep in my heart.  I had felt for some time that I had hit a brick wall in my spiritual life that God just wasn’t going to let me go around.  It was as if God had turned off my motor and I was stuck – I wasn’t even idling.  I had come to a complete stop, and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Over the past several years, the Lord had allowed me to do some remarkable things that were exciting.  I had done things that I never thought I would have ever been able to do, and had not only done them, but had witnessed the incredible power of God flowing through me during those times.  I felt like I was getting to do some really great things, and had finally come into the ministry that I had been waiting for all my life.  I felt like I was running full tilt at 150 mph.

And then He clamped down hard.

I could feel it before I could see it.  Something was missing.  That feeling of confidence was eroding, and things weren’t happening for me like they used to.  I had seen lots of miracles, healings, and special words from God, but now there was silence. Dead silence. If I prayed for someone, nothing happened. Doors started closing around me, and I felt like I was out in the middle of a dry desert.

Now, I’ve been through the desert before, so I figured this was just another growing time, but this time it felt different.  I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but it was as if there was something blocking my way.  Something I couldn’t see.  I kept trying to dismiss it, but it was there no matter what I tried to do.  I began to realize that it wasn’t something external – it was me.

I felt like my pride had caused me to be such a failure that I might have lost whatever calling I had in God, and very possibly would never again feel the anointing flow through me over the pulpit or through my hands when praying over others.  But that was okay.  I was ready to surrender my place to someone else who would be much better than I had been, and was resolved to accept whatever lowly position God granted me, whether it was sweeping the floor, or cleaning the toilets for the saints – it didn’t matter.  I just wanted to serve the Lord.  I surrendered my pride and asked for forgiveness.

There’s a place where we sometimes have to go to that is far away from the outside world – a quiet place deep inside you where everything around you stops.  Like the Garden of Gethsemane, you have to go there alone, taking nothing with you but your raw, naked soul.  It is there where you strip away everything you hold onto, every crutch that you hang onto for support, and all the lofty ideas that you have of yourself, so that you come stripped down and naked before God.  It is the place where you come to a realization of who you really are before God, and accept the searing humility that we are nothing but dust and ashes, and He is God.

I was in that place when my daughter called.

A little girl she knew had just been in an accident and was not going to make it. Her name was Hope.  My daughter wanted me to pray for God to restore that little girl back to life because she thought God would hear me.  At that moment, I didn’t know if God would hear me or not.  Seriously.  I felt as low as I had felt in a long time.  But we prayed anyway.

Almost right away, the Spirit of God crashed down on both of us like a lightning bolt!  I was so excited that I was jumping and dancing all over the porch, shouting and praising the Lord.  I didn’t care what the neighbors thought.  God had answered, and I really believed that He was going to raise that girl from the dead!

Two days later, however, the hospital still had the girl on life support — not really dead, but not really alive.  I cried out to God wondering what happened, and a little voice went off in the back of my head, “She’s still alive, isn’t she?”  Amen, Lord, she’s still alive.  Maybe God was waiting for an opportune time or something.  Surely, He would raise her up now and show the world that He is still sitting on the Throne and still answers prayer.

But that night, she died.

I don’t get it.  What happened?  We felt the power of the Holy Spirit crash down on us.  God, I thought You were going to heal her!  Did I not pray hard enough or long enough?  Did I quit too soon just because I got such an immediate answer?  Or was it me?  Would I have taken credit for her healing and strutted around about how powerful I was in God?  Why did God allow her to die?

You can imagine how devastated I was.  Maybe I really was as bad as I thought I was.  Maybe it was my fault.  Maybe God couldn’t heal her because of me.

But, you know, sometimes it’s not all about you.  The world doesn’t hinge on your performance or how great your accomplishments are.  It doesn’t matter how much stuff you know, or how good you are at doing anything, or what a failure you have been.  God is not limited by your limitations.

The next day, as I was dragging myself through my discouragement, I got a picture from the Lord.  It wasn’t much, just a glimpse. But it was enough. I could see Jesus standing up high overlooking the world, and standing beside Him with His arm wrapped around her was that little girl.  They stood at that place between this life and the next, on the edge of Eternity, with the entrance to Heaven behind them, and He was asking her if she wanted to go back to Earth.

“No”, she said. “I want to stay here with you, Jesus.”

“Yes”, He said as He hugged her a little closer.  “I want you to stay with Me, too”.

And they both turned and walked into the gates of Heaven.

Brother Dale

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