I prayed for a stranger named Mike today.
When I got on the bike this morning, I turned on Spotify to the All Sons and Daughters radio station, hit “start workout” on the MapMyFitness app, and headed north toward the lighthouse instead of circling around 14 times over by the beach.
As I rode, my thoughts turned to God. I’ve had a very quiet year since coming home from Africa. He basically told me to stop striving to prove myself to everyone, to Him. He reminded me I didn’t need to work for Him to make Him love me, I already had His love. No amount of striving was going to change His amount of love for me.
So I listened for a change. Oh, I’ve had a few hiccups and missed steps, trying to plan big projects when He said take a year to rest, feeling useless, self absorbed because I haven’t tried to do a thing.
What I’ve learned over the last year is in all my striving, working, trying to prove my worth by doing huge things for God, I lost the ability to be okay with who I am. Okay, I’ve never been okay with who I am. I’ve always tried to be who everyone else wants me to be. Because if I were just smarter, cuter, stronger, friendlier, funnier, I would be okay, I would be accepted, included, invited.
What has actually happened over the last year is I’ve stopped long enough to take care of me. I started riding a bike, lost over 30 pounds, rested from all the striving, had a physical, taken naps, enjoyed my boys, went for some counseling, decided to stop pretending my mental health was actually healthy. I’ve finally accepted that even in my ordinary, everyday life God can use me for His glory. I just have to be willing to let Him.
Back to the bike ride. I simply said, “God use me today.” I haven’t prayed those 4 words in a very long time. Oh, I’ve done things for God in my strength. And the things I’ve done were good. I served Him. But I do believe I served Him with my own agenda. Somewhere over the last few years I left Him out of the equation. I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t even realize I did it. But looking back, I know I did. It’s like that part where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. The goats thought they were serving God, but they had their own agenda.
I continued north past the lighthouse, every now and then saying, “God use me today.” I thought about how the simplest, smallest acts of love can change the course of another person’s day. I thought about wanting to do small things with great love. When I rode 7 miles, I turned around to head south toward home.
As I approached mile 13 of mile 14, I saw something that looked like fallen branches or trash bags, some in the road, some near the curb. “What is that?” I wondered. I could see another cyclist pass by the ‘debris’. When I got close enough to see clearly, there was a man laying on the sidewalk, a duffle bag in the road. I stopped. “Are you okay?” He told me an odd tale of someone touching him with some kind of magical chemical that made him not able to see, making his head feel strange. I asked him if he wanted me to call 911 for help. But he said it wasn’t an emergency. He was waiting for a ride so he could go to church for help.
I stayed with him for a bit, reassured him the bus would be coming. Then I asked him his name. He hesitated, looking at me with mistrust in his eyes. I offered him my name first. Then I asked him if I could pray for him to be healed. He said yes. He hesitated when I laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed in Jesus name for healing. He thanked me.
I got back on my bike and rode home, marveling in the God who sees me, sees Mike, hears my prayers, and answers.
Linking with The Weekend Brew.