I was recently prayed for at church by some friends, some people from my church community. It was a time where God had really stripped me down and exposed me, and I was being brutally honest about where I was.
About my doubts.
About my fears.
About my insecurities.
I had never been quite so truthful in a prayer time at my church, and I had never felt so naked in church.
I felt completely exposed.
I sensed that God wanted me to go up before anyone else, and that He was stripping me down. I knew He could see me way below the surface, naked, so to speak – and that I could be completely safe being completely exposed with Him.
So, I went and got prayer.
When I got up the front, I silently prayed that God would send the right people to pray with me, the people He specifically wanted to pray with me. When they came, I was honest with those who prayed for me about all of the issues I spoke about, and more.
But then something happened which totally shocked me.
Two of the men who prayed with me, had some words for me. Now this is something I’ve experienced many times, it wasn’t an unusual or new experience to me.
But it was what they said which took me back – and told me a lot about how I saw myself, and more, about how God uses us.
You see, I felt – and still do at times – a total mess inside.
God has in the last year exposed me to the deep truths of who I am – some good, some not so good.
Difficult truths, bad habits, challenges, issues from my difficult past which still affect me – all of them were in my mind. Self-worth and confidence are things I have struggled a lot with – especially being so sensitive, and in particular with the circumstances I’ve experienced in my life.
I often feel a mess inside. Almost like I’m just waiting to be exposed, and then my deepest fears and insecurities will become true and everyone will abandon and reject me.
This doesn’t happen too often now, I’ve largely overcome all of these, through prayer, ministry, counselling and healing. But parts of them still remain, still come to the fore in my darkest, lonliest moments, or when I’m confronted with the truth about the areas I still need healing, still need forgiveness, still need to be forgiven – just as I was at this moment.
So what did these people say to me?
I’m not going to say. Because, frankly, you don’t need to hear it. I’m sure my ego would love me to share it, but I don’t think it would be right.
I will say it was enormously positive, encouraging and affirming. It took me by surprise and was something I never expected to hear.
Something I had no idea people thought.
I was taken aback. I wanted to put it down, to lessen its power, excuse it or explain it – rationalise it so that I didn’t hear it.
That’s what I have often tended to do with words of encouragement.
But the place I was, that couldn’t happen.
I had given God permission to say whatever He wanted, and He was saying something amazing. I couldn’t dismiss it, because God was saying this to me.
It seemed that even despite my messiness, my fears, doubts, insecurities and all the issues God was working through in my life – which they hardly knew anything about – that God had somehow still used me to inspire, encourage and build up these people.
It was humbling.
It made me wonder – when we get preoccupied with the idea of doing something for God, are our motives 100% pure?
Do we do things for God because we want people to see we have done things for God, done the ‘right Christian thing’ and gain popularity and a good reputation in the eyes of others?
Then it became clear.
You may have heard before that the best gift is often the one the receiver doesn’t know has been given – and there is definitely some truth in that.
But actually, I think the greatest we can give, is one that the giver doesn’t know has been given, as well as the receiver.
In other words, the perfect gift is the one only God knows has been given.
The best gift is the gift that is unknown to us.
That way, not only do we not have any idea of what we’ve done so are unable to get proud, but there’s no chance we’ll ever hear about the gift we’ve given – until maybe we meet God, or He decides to tell us.
Somehow God had used me to encourage, inspire and be an example to these men that had prayed for me, but if they hadn’t prayed for me and felt compelled to share it, I would never have known.
If they had never known I had given it however, I’d never have heard about it, but it would still have been given and they would still have received it – but would have given all the praise to God alone.
Isn’t that the kind of gift you’d like to give?
One which changes lives and brings all the glory to God – and which we’ve never even known about. No danger of us taking or claiming any glory away from God. Simply getting on with trying to live every day for God and doing the best we can, and allowing God to take the glory.
The only thing is, we have to be content with never knowing exactly what we’ve done, and no one ever knowing we’ve even given it – apart from God.
God will know – and that should be all that matters.
Otherwise, we’re simply putting our security and identity in what others say to us, having our value come from people’s opinion of us, rather than our identity in God, and His love for us.
That way, if we do ever hear it – and sometimes it’s good to hear these things, simply for our encouragement, just as in this case – it will be because God wants us to, because it’s in our best interests.
Then, we’ll simply praise God for the amazing work He’s been doing in and through us – without us ever knowing it had happened. Just as that was all I could do that Sunday.
That way, God gets all the credit – and after all, at the end of the day, we’re merely tools He uses.
It’s Him that really gave that gift in the first place.
How much do you care about others opinion of what you do? Is it more than you think?
If you never knew the precise impact you were having on others lives and the ways God had used you or who with, would it actually matter as long as God was using you?
Should it matter?
Are you willing for God to use you to give the perfect gift?
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