In December of 2003, in a meeting with my District Superintendent (Church of the Nazarene), he spoke to me about planting a church in Apple Valley, Ohio. I was quite surprised. Though I had dreams of church planting, I had never spoken to him about it. I promised I would pray, but at the time, I was preparing for my first mission trip to South Africa. Obviously, church planting was not at the top of my prayer list!
Two months later, I recieved a call from the District Superintendent in Wisconsin. He asked that I pray about planting or restarting a church in the Milwaukee area. Yes, God was getting my attention at this point! I realized I had some serious apprehensions about this assignment. I was avoiding this God-call.
Church planting looked a lot like starting a new business. Been there. Done that. It takes a lot of energy. I had been suffering with chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia for a few years. My prayers began by telling the Lord if He wanted me to do this, He would have to give me the energy. "Renew my strength, Lord."
Then, I became very blunt: "I feel old and tired. If you want me to plant a church, then heal me! More than that, give me clear confirmation that You are calling me to do this. I want to know without a doubt this is Your will for me." Within two weeks, God powerfully answered my prayer.
My prayer partners met on a Friday evening. As we began to pray, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Get up and walk." I had no idea what this message was about, but it kept repeating in my mind. It brought a sense of peace and comfort. Before the evening was over, I was lying on the sofa with my prayer partners gathered around. As they prayed for me and praised God for results, I was healed. It felt as though a huge burden was physically lifted from my body. Even the next morning, when I awoke, I felt light as a feather, as though I had lost twenty pounds. And I was no longer in pain.
The interesting thing was that every morning, the Holy Spirit continued to whisper, "Get up and walk." Like the man on the mat that Jesus healed, I had to declare this healing by physically walking it into existence. I took that literally. I began walking every morning. It strengthened my body and my faith. Both would be necessary for planting a church.
God obviously wanted me to plant a church. But where? I had not told any of my prayer partners about the church plant or my petition to God for healing. I did, however, ask one of them to pray for a decision I needed to make. A few days later, I asked if she had prayed and if God had spoken to her. She said,
"Well, I have been praying, but what keeps coming to my mind doesn't make any sense. I don't even know if it's from God or not. I don't think it's what you were wanting to hear. Every time I close my eyes to pray for you, I hear, 'Cindy, Apple Valley Church!"Romans 8:27-28 reminds us that if God calls us, He will equip us. Part of that equipping is the ability to communicate on a God-level through the Holy Spirit.
Lord God,"the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV1984)."
I pray that we would not be too timid to ask for what You have promised in Your word. You want to heal us, to send us, to come alongside us. We choose the mundane. You offer abundant living. We stumble around, weak and weary. You tell us to pick up our mat and walk. We feast on the crumbs that fall to the floor. You call us to come to Your table and eat the Bread of Life.
Lord, give us an appetite for all that You have to offer us. Give us a thirst for "greater things than these".
In the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.