“God’s got you!”
In my last post, I related my somewhat disenchanting experience with a nearly vindictive pastor. It was all true. However, I do not want that one sober truth to overshadow the many profoundly encouraging encounters I have had with Pastors. Today’s post captures one of such encounters with a Pastor in Accra, Ghana.
Ghana is one of my favourite places in the world! (Shout out to any Ghanaian reading this). I love the people, the cuisine, the incomparable variety of their unique fashion and artistic expressions: the braids, clothing and gospel singers (#SonnieBadu, anybody?). But most of all, I would give up anything for a worship experience at the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Lighthouse Chapel and the Legon International Church at the University of Ghana.
My love affair with Ghana began at first sight over a decade ago. My remarkably hospitable host perceived my love for the country and decided to give me a Ghanaian name corresponding to my day of birth. It took quite a bit of research and a few phone calls to my mum to determine that I was born on a Wednesday. Thus, I was named “Akua” and that officially made me Ghanaian 😊. It was also during my first visit to Ghana that I met one of the sweetest human beings on earth, a beloved friend who has stuck closer than a sister. She has since made every Ghana trip more worthwhile than the intended purpose.
During a recent visit, my Ghanaian friend brought me along to an all-night prayer session at her church. The sermon was enriching, and I particularly admired how the Pastor switched almost mechanically from English to Twi (the lingua franca) from time to time. I felt God’s presence palpably, and in an almost remorse way, pitied every Eutychus who snoozed during the sermon.
After service, my friend was eager for me to meet her Pastor. I flashed back to “Conversation with a Pastor gone wrong?” and my feet frosted, not just from the morning dew. To make matters worse, her Pastor has the same first name as the one about whom I wrote in my last post. I tried to dissuade her saying: “It’s quite a common practice but I really think it’s not ideal to bug the Pastor right after service. He needs to recuperate.” My hesitation was more of skepticism than conviction. She assured me the Pastor knew of my visit and was expecting us, so I relented.
We approached the pastor’s office and settled into his waiting area where I was introduced to his wife. She reached to me, beaming with a profuse smile and a welcoming countenance which melted my last bout of hesitation. She made me feel fully at home. I instantly admired her finesse and extraordinary patience. I couldn’t believe that she had to wait for an unending queue of congregants (including myself) to “greet” her husband before she headed home – after an ALL-NIGHT prayer session! It takes grace to be a Pastor’s wife ‘paaaaa’ (a Ghanaian expression).
When it was my turn to meet the Pastor, he enthusiastically welcomed and thanked me for visiting like I was the most important guest ever. He asked about my worship experience and I was glad I didn’t take a nap during the service. We talked about my work, what brought me to Ghana, how long I’d stay etc. Finally, he said: “How can I pray for you?”
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always kept it real when giving prayer requests, especially in groups or to someone I just met. I tend to be more generic and would say things like: pray for spiritual growth, my job, family, parents and travelling mercies. OR, pray for favour and success in all I do. 😊
It takes brave vulnerability to request prayers for real needs and struggles. To say: Pastor, I cried myself to sleep last night. This is a rough stretch, pray that God would help me to cue into His perspective for this season and stay the course. Or, I have had questions about God’s faithfulness lately, pray for grace to believe God’s Word over my reality; I am wrestling with self-blame and a voice that keeps telling me something must be wrong with me. Pastor, I messed up again! There’s this sin that easily entangles me, pray for grace to break free and please hold me accountable in my growth process. I am sometimes envious and feel like a total failure. I was called in for re-examination after a mammogram exam and I am afraid the results might not be good. I’ve been a little disoriented lately and need help finding my bearing. Communication with my parents is much harder these days and I don’t know what to do… Nope! The chronic deficiency of safe spaces in my community had left me playing safe. (Mercy! #BeAuthentic)
So, what did I tell Pastor that morning? “Pray that God will fulfil all His promises to me and that His will be done in my life.” 😊 (God knows the details, right?). The Pastor was fine with what I was willing to share. He didn’t probe suspiciously: “Are you sure there’s no other thing you want me to pray about?” No sly suggestions like: “don’t you also want God to also do A or B for you?” No mini sermon on how prayer requests must be very specific. He simply said, “Okay, let me agree with you in prayers.”
Then, he prayed for me with deep compassion – as if he felt the weight on my heart. He bypassed all my well-crafted superficial prayer requests and prayed for my deepest needs. He asked God to assuage my fears and help me to be conscious of His unconditional love and ever abiding presence. That I will be encouraged, not just because God calmed my storms, but that He was with me through it all…
By the time he finished praying, my eyes were raining, and my nostrils made large bubbles. But I was unashamed and peaceful. Then he said something I will never forget: “stop thinking that something is wrong with you, nothing is wrong with you. God loves you. He’s not punishing you for anything. He’s got you! God’s got you!”
Although he neither used the “thus sayeth the Lord” preface nor spoke King James to sound more anointed, I knew that was God’s specific reply to my nagging thoughts. I was profoundly encouraged. Proverbs 15:4 came alive: Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.
Till date, this truth applies when fear, worry, doubt and anxiety seek to enslave me – #God’s Got Me! In this season of my life as always # God’sGotMe. When I can’t see how God is moving on my behalf, I sill know #God’sGotMe. What could be more reassuring?
God Bless you,
The Christian Bachelorette.
Click here to view previous posts. The next post is up on March 29th. It will be brutally honest and explicit about being single, holy and horny. Please, don’t come back to read if you are “too spiritual.” Want to be notified of future posts? Please subscribe. Feel free to share this post with friends using this link:https://christianbachelorette.org/2019/03/16/a-pastors-encouragement/