The last few years have been, to put it mildly, arduous. Family challenges, work challenges, and financial challenges of every sort were the everyday norm. Every effort we undertook to achieve any sort of stability would consistently backfire. I was living in a perpetual state of stress and exhaustion.
Strangely, even acts of obedience to God would frequently appear to backfire. To say that relationships at home and work were stressed would be an understatement. I knew God was walking with me daily, but I was emotionally drained. Through these times, His personal promises to me of “hope and renewal” were about the only thing keeping me from a complete breakdown. I’m a carefree and positive person by nature, and I could remember that in years past I had had not been this hopeless, but I had somehow begun to dread making new friendships or to undertake anything that would require sustained effort or responsibility. At least 4 days a week, for months at a time I would come home from work and crawl straight into bed. I love my wife and kids, but I just had nothing left in the tank to give them.
10 weeks ago, now, I experienced a life-changing event that I’m still processing enough to put it into words. Free Life was putting on a 2-day event on the topic of spiritual warfare. At the conclusion of the event on Saturday morning I asked for prayer from Kevin who knew nothing about the specifics of my situation, and unsolicited, he prayed for strength for me and expressed later that he felt something was unfinished but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. I was grateful for his prayer however and felt encouraged to know God had put it on his heart to ask for strength for me.
About 30 minutes later, my daughter, wife, and I were receiving a family prayer from Aaron, and he paused and looked at me and said he felt God leading him to pray for me specifically. He declared that he felt God would change something soon, in an instant, like “a fire coming over me” (his words). I welcomed this with optimism and dared to hope in my heart that it would be so. Although I know God works in this way when he chooses to, I had never seen or experienced it personally, so it left me a bit contemplative.
The following day (12/12/21) during regular Sunday service, Ken shared that God had delivered him personally as an adult from a heavy yoke of fear of responsibility, which had originated through difficult circumstances as a young 8-year-old child. He shared that God had asked him to bring this prayer of deliverance forward on this day to any who wanted it. I stood with about 20 others, and we all received his prayer which he delivered from the pulpit.
As the service ended, I noticed Clayton flagging me down from across the sanctuary. He grabbed Ken and approached me to say that while Ken was praying over the service, God had shown him my face while his eyes were still closed in prayer. He said, “Dad, I think this prayer is for Mark!” and then asked him to pray over me specifically, which he proceeded to do. Ken simply prayed that the yoke of fear of responsibility and failure be lifted off me, thanked God for my steadfastness, and gave me a verse (Isaiah 57:15) which reads in part “I … restore the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite.”
Within 5 minutes of the prayer ending, I experienced something I can only describe as a caffeine high. Over the course of the next week as the buzz started to settle down, I realized something had seriously shifted in me. 3 days after this experience I got an unexpected bill for $30,000 and it didn’t even phase me! God told me “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) God is good. And yes, I DO perceive it! He has restored my energy, my hope, and in time, He will restore my finances as well.
I believe that God is doing more than delivering me from a failure mentality, He is shifting my entire identity in preparation for a new season. I have new awe of God through this, and I can’t wait to see what God has planned. The challenges of the last decade pale in contrast to the power and love of God. How good it is to know the Lord! He draws near to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit!
ONE holy spirit spoke ONE narrative through 4 men who knew nothing of my situation, at 4 different times, over the course of 2 days. Simply amazing. Words cannot do it justice.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20