Somewhere, back in the dark recesses of my childhood and youth, and in my late twenties/early thirties, I was one of the most shy people you could have met. I come from a family of shy people, with no aspirations of being ‘up front’. When I quit my bank job, it was to go into ministry, with Youth for Christ, but as an administrator, which, for me, meant dealing with people, yes, but primarily by phone and letter, which was ok.
In 1983, national YFC organised a conference on ‘Healing’, at which the speaker was to be Ian Andrews: I discovered in Ian a relatively shy man (then – maybe still, it’s been a while since I saw him!), but who WAS willing to be up front, and impart to others his gift of healing. A few months later, I had cause to spend time with Tony Campolo – chalk and cheese on the personality scales, Tony and me! – but God used those two men incredibly in helping me first, to overcome insecurity and fear, and second, to be willing to grit my teeth and put myself up front….
In doing that, I began to find that faith ‘came’. I have lots of people ask me how/why/where I got the faith I have, especially for healings and miracles. It came the hard way, and with small steps of determination.
Why am I writing this? Well, I’ve been nattering again, on Facebook, with my great mate, Robert Hall, from Melbourne, Australia. I’m probably going to embarrass Robert here, nut hopefully bless him outrageously too (!). I met Robert & Shey for literally a couple of minutes at the end of a meeting I’d spoken at: it was severely time limited as I was on my way to the airport to fly home to the UK. Their four sons were pretty much all on the autism/aspergers spectrum.
Quite a few months later, I had a message from Robert (who then was only a ‘friend’ of those couple of minutes!): there’d been a change in their lads in the intervening months, and he asked me if I’d pray for them again. He told me then that he had ‘no faith himself that they’d be healed, but we’re willing to bring them to wherever you are in the world to get you to pray for them again’.
Man alive: what faith THAT was! Four lads, now 9 years and under, on a flight from almost the furthest point away from anywhere I was likely to be. Rob even mentioned Bogota, and, if I remember right, Bangalore…. You know, so often, we say, ‘I don’t have enough faith’ or ‘I don’t have faith for this – or that’. YES YOU DO..
Robert & Shey did: it took humongous faith to be willing to do what they suggested. To cut a long story short, I went to them instead, knowing that their faith was already working wonders in their whole family – not just their kids. That was August 2012: I was back again in February 2013, and last November, Robert went to Cali, Colombia, living with the reality of his own perceived fears of Cali (!), but being willing to face those fears down in order to see God move.
And boy, did he see God move! In August last year, especially in November in Cali, and then again 5 months ago. At the end of the February visit, standing in Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, we hugged, agreed it had been a great trip, wanted to do more together – and then Robert said something that blessed me outrageously and blew me away: ‘I don’t need you to pray WITH me anymore – I can do it now!’
That’s pretty much what I’d picked up from Ian Andrews and Tony Campolo 30 years ago. A man with little or no faith (according to him – and me, then), now in a place of faith, and has since moved in it quite remarkably in and around Melbourne, and especially among the people he works with (always challenging) and with the people he runs with (he’s a long-distance runner, really fit, just like me… 🙂
The reason I’m writing this today is that Rob and I are talking on Facebook again about my being back in Melbourne in September. Some people who’ve heard of the changes in Robert & Shey’s boys, drove, 5 months ago, 4 hours each way to get to Melbourne to have their kids prayed for. Robert’s told me today that they’ve organised their ANNUAL HOLIDAY as a family to be in Melbourne, when I’m back, so that Robert & I can pray for them. THAT’S FAITH.
It’s the sort of faith, like I told Robert & Shey, that Jesus would have said ‘Your faith has made you well’. Faith isn’t JUST doing the stuff, as John Wimber so wonderfully called power ministry when he first hit the shores of the UK in the mid ’80s. It isn’t just speaking in tongues, prophesying, laying your hands on the sick.
It’s being willing to take a traumatic multi-day plane journey across the world to get prayed for: it’s being willing to take annual leave to get your kids prayed for. Their faith has made them well…. It’s worth travelling across the world JUST for them, in a couple of months’ time…. Faith is doing what YOU can to enable God to do the rest. I know you know that, but, as C. S. Lewis once said, ‘We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught’. The prodigal dad was the one who did the running from ‘a great way off’ when the son appeared on the horizon, stinking, dishevelled, exhausted, and at the end of himself….
And the truth is…. I am STILL shy, though I think there are a few who’d doubt that 🙂 – and I’m still incredibly nervous before EVERY meeting, whether it’s to 5 people or 5,000 people. It makes no difference. People who know me, especially those who travel with me, will tell you I sit there as the time creeps towards being ‘introduced’, shuffling papers in my Bible, checking in the concordance at the back (or on my phone!) whether I’ve got the right text, and saying, almost always, ‘Why did I say I’d do this?’
You’ll never beat fear by trying to manage it: you’ll only beat fear by running at it, full tilt, and crashing through it. And the butterflies will never stop: you just need to MAKE them fly in formation!