It was a hot, humid July morning by the Stones River Dam in Murfreesboro, TN, nearly 37 years ago. As a young copier salesman, I had gone there to pray and read my Bible before venturing out on my daily sales calls.
Soon after, a woman pulled into the otherwise deserted parking lot with her two small children, parked her car and laid across the front seat to sleep while her children played at the river’s edge.
Something was not right about this picture. I could feel it.
I pulled my SUV next to her car. The windows were all down and her old car was quite the mess inside. I rolled down my window and repeatedly called out to her, but received no reply. She appeared to be sleeping, but it was more than that.
I pulled back into my original parking spot and went looking for the kids. They were happily frolicking along the rivers edge after bathing in its murky waters.
When I inquired about their situation, they explained they were homeless and lived in the car. Their mother would drive around at night while they slept and then during the day, she would sleep, and they would play.
“Where’s your dad?”, I asked. Well, he was in prison and not expected out for several more years.
I was in my suit and tie, and it was time to get to my first appointment. This was 1986 and much of the Southeast was enduring an extended drought and several states had declared a state of emergency.
The kids seemed content, though homeless. The mother was sleeping or at least pretending to be. It was stifling hot. I was dressed for business, (not casual summer attire) and it was time to start my sales responsibilities.
What would you have done in that moment?
Should I have gone over to her car and handed her money? Should I have driven away and just prayed for her? How about “binding the spirit of poverty over her”? Maybe even praying that the Lord lead her to a safe place where she could get her life on track.
I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed and asked the Lord if He wanted me to do anything. As is so often the case, He answered me with another question... “Do you see anyone else here?”
Taken aback by His direct answer, I then asked Him what He wanted me to do. Again, as He so often does, He answered me with a Bible verse, (Matthew 6:13) which contains the words, “deliver us from evil”.
“You want me to deliver her from evil?” I asked in disbelief.
He didn’t see the need to answer that question. It was clear that He wanted me to deliver her from evil. The only problem was, I had no idea what that should look like, what actual steps or words or actions I should take.
Which, by the way, is why most people don’t take action... They don’t know in advance exactly what to do, so they do nothing relevant to the situation and simply pray a silent prayer as they go on their way.
Been there. Done that. No condemnation.
But in the weeks that follow, I’m going to share with you 7 Practices from the life of Jesus, 7 Pointers from Peter on the day of Pentecost and 7 Tools revealed by Isaiah in a prophecy about the Messiah that will thoroughly equip you to change the world, even if it’s just the world of one person at a time. (Contact me if you think your group or church would want this training.)
In my case, the only thing I knew was to approach her with the intent of delivering her from evil. I was a bit nervous and certainly uncomfortable, but then it ratcheted up dramatically...
As I took steps toward her car some 80 yards away, she sat bolt upright, swiveled her head towards me and gave me a piercing stare that felt like a scene from the Exorcist movie.
It was more than a little strange, that when I was a few feet from her inquiring as to her well-being, there was no response. But when I decided to “deliver her from evil”, she popped up like a jack-in-the-box when I was nearly a football field away.
The hairs on my arms stood up and if they could have, would have surely run in the other direction. Being brutally honest here, I was intimidated, but tried not to show it.
Whatever was looking out at me through her eyes, receded as I approached her, much the same way an alligator does in a lake when you get near, and you never know for sure, whether it’s leaving the area or planning an attack. (I live in Florida, and this just happened yesterday. Not at all uncommon here.)
When I got up to her car, I engaged her in conversation. She was a bit spaced out and kept repeating over and over again, “I want it to rain”. She would also hold her shoulder and repeat, “I’m in such pain”.
I shared the gospel with her and led her in a prayer of salvation, which she repeated after me. One thing I felt confident of, was that there was no encounter with God. She mindlessly repeated what I said and seemed as hopeless when finished as when she started.
Realizing nothing of eternal value had transpired yet, I told her that Jesus had a reputation years ago of healing people, and I offered to pray for her shoulder, to which she agreed.
I reached my hand inside the driver’s side window where she was and placed it on her shoulder and prayed as best I could.
I was running out of ideas. I was there to deliver her from evil, but so far, leading her in a prayer of salvation didn’t seem to take and praying for her healing didn’t seem to work, and then of course, to top it all off, she kept saying that she wanted to rain.
After two failed prayer attempts, I certainly didn’t feel like it was time to go for natural elements and somehow through prayer, make it rain on demand.
What I did next is laughable, but I was all out of options.
I remembered in the Bible, that on occasion, Jesus would tell a lame person to “Get up and walk!”
Well, there was nothing wrong with her legs. She could already walk, but it was all I could think of, so I opened her car door, took hold of her hand and said, “Woman, get up and walk!”
As she came out of the car placing her bare feet on the hot pavement, littered with broken glass that I was previously unaware of, we both spied what looked like a brand new pair of blue flipflops just laid beside her car.
Taken back by that strange coincidence she stepped cautiously into them as I asked if they were hers.
And then suddenly and unexpectedly, it thundered big time! That was immediately followed by a downpour of rain that ended the Southeast drought of ’86 and drenched us both.
In utter astonishment and complete wonderment, she looked heavenward and instinctively lifted her hands toward heaven. As she did, the pain in her shoulder left. She was healed!
She began to cry and bawl, realizing that God had indeed heard the cry of her heart and met her needs. She was truly born again, healed and delivered from the oppression of the enemy.
Then, the unexpected happened...
I was sure the devil had shown up personally to steal the seed just planted in her heart. I will tell you about that in my next blog, because this one is getting a bit long.
But the takeaway I want you to get here is that as important as prayer is, without action, it very often accomplishes nothing.
You and I are the body of Christ, and as such, it is incumbent upon us to take direction from the Head (Jesus) and be His body, speaking directly to the world and being willing to help them in whatever way He directs.
Just so you know, there’s more to this story. I just can’t share it all in this blog, so be watching for the next one, coming soon.
Please share this blog on social media, join the FREE Jesus School of Business Facebook page, and be sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel which will soon be hosting a lot of fresh and powerful content.
As always... Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing this blog. And if you are employed, have your own business or plan to one day, be sure to check out this video...