Do It Shaking
“You’re going to face it again.” It was a quiet but clear whisper.
I had been called back to see a woman for a pregnancy test. As a staff member at the pregnancy center, it wasn’t often that I saw clients.
It had only been a week or so since my last client… A young woman had come in for a pregnancy test, and her boyfriend ended up coming back to join her.
He brought thick tension with him into the counseling room. Defiance was radiating from him. As I talked with both of them, I could feel the intensity building.
Then the bomb went off as he belligerently interjected into the conversation. Hatred, laced inside of words, spewed all over me.
I sat, almost speechless. I was nearly frozen by the ambush. I mustered the strength to get through a few necessary words to close out the appointment and got out of that room as quickly as possible. I did not want to cry in front of them.
Afterward, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. The interaction was tense, even from a natural standpoint – the stern voice, the cold facial expressions… But the spiritual assault was exponentially more brutal than what took place in the natural realm. It was clear that a dark spirit had targeted me during that counseling session.
I had walked into that appointment, not from a place of self-sufficiency but likely of familiarity, and ended up blindsided by an assault on my heart.
I tried to move on with work and press through the tears I felt coming. Why am I crying over this? Why is this messing with me so much? Finally, I realized there was no use trying to hold it all in. I asked Elizabeth [a friend and fellow staff member] to come back to my office and could hardly get the words out for the tears…
Now here I was, only a week or so later, being summoned to see another client.
Immediately I heard that still, small voice: “You’re going to face it again.”
Okay, Lord. I knew what this meant. Something from last week’s horrible encounter was going to rear its ugly head.
The quiet whisper carried promise though. I went into this new session feeling the gravity of what I was about to face, but sensing that things were going to turn out differently this time.
An intern, “Brittany,” accompanied the young woman and me into the counseling room to observe the session. We sat down and went through some basic preliminary questions. All was going well.
Then things abruptly shifted when we got to the question about her pregnancy intentions:
The word a pregnancy center counselor never wants to hear.
She gave the answer decidedly. And into the trenches I stepped.
Our exchange became quite serious. I prayed silently as I listened to her responses – and offered mine when I felt I had a window.
Much like the previous session, I felt the intensity building. Her words became scathing, her face cold.
I started feeling that familiar, immobilizing presence. I felt myself being targeted again, and the nastiness aimed at me magnifying.
My words were ricocheting off of her, and her resistance was intensifying by the moment.
Brittany stepped into the conversation, sharing vulnerably about her life as an adopted daughter and how much good had come from her birth mother choosing life.
Still resolute, she trampled on Brittany’s words, dismissing her altogether.
The unwelcome presence in the room was thick by this point. I had to get out of there. Brittany and I stepped out to get her pregnancy test results.
We were shaking.
Brittany couldn’t hold back tears. We both felt like evil had just thrown up all over us. I felt nearly consumed by the magnitude of spiritual warfare we were up against.
The two of us stood in that tiny testing room convinced of our inadequacy, and terrified of our return to the counseling room.
“Let’s pray!” I grabbed Brittany’s hand, we closed our eyes, and stood for a few seconds under the weight of it all. Literally trembling, I voiced the most pitiful prayer. The kind that feels entirely void of authority and power.
Still shaking, we headed back to the counseling room.
We sat down, showed her the test result, and I began to speak.
As I opened my mouth, a blanket of Peace covered me.
Something arose [Someone, more accurately], and suddenly, the dark presence from before began to cower.
I stopped shaking.
I could now see past the girl and into the darkness behind her responses. As I spoke to her, I recognized that it had put up a bold front, simply to terrify me into silence. There was war raging around the life of this child, and recognizing that released grace for the moment.
The words came easily, and they carried Authority.
Her demeanor softened. She opened to what Brittany and I were saying.
Within minutes, our conversation did an about-face. She left the appointment with an ultrasound scheduled and was well on her way to choosing life for her child – an outcome that looked impossible thirty minutes earlier.
It’s been several years now, but that day remains etched in my mind. It was a day the Lord demonstrated to me His power being made perfect in my weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).
I couldn’t have been more inadequate, incapable, or weak in that counseling session. I doubt my prayer for help could have been any wimpier. But Friends, it’s at our moments of utter weakness that we become His most apt conduits. Self-sufficiency is stripped away, making us yielded and unclogged vessels through which He can flow. Our nothingness makes room for the One who is everything to demonstrate Himself as such.
But we have to take the first step, even in our weakness (I Corinthians 1:18-2:5). If we had waited to feel strong, we never would have gone back into that counseling room! We don’t wait for feelings of strength to act – we move forward in weakness. We do it shaking. And as soon as we take that step off the cliff, solid ground appears beneath our feet. Peace covered me as I spoke. Darkness bowed its knee in the midst of conversation.
This is what a life of faith is – an ongoing journey of risk-taking. Thousands of moments when we step off the cliff and see the Spirit bring forth ground on which to stand. This is where ‘following Jesus’ moves from being a sweet saying to a reality. It’s what makes this life worth living. For every time we see Him come through, joy explodes and roots deepen. His dominion is put on display.
The other side of the coin is the boredom that plagues the lives of non-risk-taking believers. When people limit themselves to tasks which can be accomplished in their own strength, they eliminate the need for a supernatural God. And deprive themselves of an authentic Christian life. Camping out in the land of theory when we were born for reality is boring indeed!
So rather than waiting to feel strong [competent, smart, self-sufficient, seminary-ready, you fill in the blank], I think it’s time we risk taking a step in our weakness. Here. Now.
Faith beckons us today.
And only beyond the cliff will we experience the God to which our pages of Scripture are pointing.
*Photo by Dennis Wilkinson