This weekend I was taught a lesson in hope. On Sunday night I went with our curate and a team to a church in London. He was preaching, we were there as the prayer team. As always he preached amazingly.
We had prayed in the car on the way up - he asked us to pray for words of knowledge for people who we could pray for healing. We were going to do this when we got there but the traffic was so awful and we were so late - Sunday evening traffic on the M25/M4!. As I was driving I couldn't really concentrate on praying but I did ask God to guide me and as I did I noticed the number plate on the car in front it was EX55... I felt God was saying 'excess', that there would be someone there who was suffering ill health due to living life to excess, or taking something to excess.
Anyway we all got up after our curate had finished and said what we thought God has shared with us. No one came forward for me so I started to feel a bit like I had got it wrong and mayebe I should have prayed harder. So I prayed for a couple of others who had coem forward with other problems. 2 or 3 people got healed of injuries - one who wasn't a Christian and he was amazed - it was really funny! He kept bending his legs and saying 'its really gone!'
Anyway I felt drawn to a lady the other side of the church so I went round and asked if she would like me to pray for her. I won't share all her story but she is an addict and has led a pretty horrible life. Been abused, been an alcoholic, been in prison and worse. and as she spoke I felt that she was the person suffering from excess. I wanted to cry her story was so sad. As I listened I prayed, Lord what can I say to her? She has such a hopeless life, what can I possibly say to her? But I really felt God saying, she has Hope, she is not hope-less. and actually I learnt something from her. Becuase she wasn't making excuses for her behaviour, she wasn't saying well I've had such a hard life, thats why I do this. The opposite. she said 'I know its a sin, I know God wants me to stop'. she quoted scripture at me far better than I could for her. she really knows God. and she was so humble.
Now I am sure she is one of those slight oddballs of the congregation, you know the ones people don't want to get stuck talking to, almost avoid so they don't have to put their Christian principles to the test, I am sure every congregation has one. And I admit that I stood there with my inital thoughts being about not getting this kind of person on leafy Sussex and that I would hate to be in her situation, and how did I get stuck talking to her, but as she went on my heart broke for her. but actually she has a close relationship with God, probably more so than I do. And Actually it was a privelege talking to her. I would like to think that in her situation I would be as hopeful, as faithful, but the truth is I'm not sure I would.
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114