Friday, June 8, 2012

Opening the Armoire

A few months ago, a visiting minister at my home church concluded his message by offering to pray for the sick.  Since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in December 2001, I’ve experienced tremendous improvement, but I’ve still dealt with recurring pain, stiffness and fatigue from time to time.  My condition is generally better than many RA patients, so I probably wouldn’t have gone forward for prayer, except that he specifically mentioned arthritis and physical pain several times, and I really would like to be 100% pain-and-symptom-free…

I thought I would slip over to the far side of the room to wait in the prayer line, but the minister walked over to me first, then spent quite a long time with me, even though others were waiting in line and he only ended up praying over 4 people all evening (other altar ministers prayed for the rest).   I am so glad the Holy Spirit led him to take that time to minister to me!  As God gently touched and healed a number of “hidden issues” in my heart – things I was barely aware of day to day, and the even more hidden root causes or earlier experiences behind them – I began to feel more free and more “light” than I had felt in months.

For example, I was not fully aware of when or how disconnected I’d become (from God and other people, especially in church), but chronic pain and fatigue plus a number of disappointments in the past year had let to a vague undercurrent of weariness and lethargy, even though my daily “spiritual disciplines” – established habits of prayer, worship, Bible reading, giving, etc - were all in place.  God also took me back to a moment of anger from childhood, and as I forgave those involved and surrendered the areas of self-protection that resulted from immature attempts to manage my own fear and hurt in an unjust situation, I began to experience the tenderness and light of the Holy Spirit flowing into areas of my heart and life that had been “closed” to Him and others.

As this was happening, I “saw” (a mental image of) an armoire, at first with the doors closed.  Then the door on one side began to open, and light began to enter the cabinet, as I felt God gently touching my heart and softening places that had been hard or “closed.”  I wasn’t crying or shaking or doing much at all - it was a very quiet, gentle experience.  In fact, if God hadn’t basically called me forward (with the arthritis altar call) and brought a minister in front of me who simply wouldn’t move on until God was finished, I wouldn’t even have realized I how much needed His touch in these areas.  It was amazing how peaceful I felt!

The next night I found myself dancing with renewed freedom at a worship service, and the following day I walked outdoors (for exercise) twice as long and twice as fast as I had quite in a while.  I felt great! – so much more healthy and free...

I share this very personal experience, because I think all of us have experienced some degree of “shutting down” or “shutting out” things that bother us, and it’s worth checking with God to see if there might be something we need to surrender to Him in order to open the channels of love & communicaton (with Him and others) – so His healing power can flow not only to our bodies, but in all our relationships and expressions of ministry (loving & living for Him).  It’s not always at a conscious level, or maybe we have lived with certain limitations for so long we don’t even notice them… but He is faithful and unlimited in His ability to heal and free us from anything that hinders His Love and Truth in our lives.

An armoire is a cabinet / closet that is used nowadays for everything from clothing to televisions and computers, but was originally used for tools and weapons.  How many of us have hidden talents or aren’t experiencing the full flow of God’s power to heal ourselves and others (spiritually, emotionally or physically) due to closed doors of self-protection?   Ask God to show you, and let Him in.

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