I was at a conference this past weekend and one of the speakers, author & counselor Dan Allender, said…
With tragic stories, and everyone "is" one, don’t approach that person with mere curiosity. Take your shoes off... for you are on holy ground.
I first nodded in approval then the Holy Spirit brought a sweet conviction to me. “You don’t practice that as well as you could.” I explained to Him that I came by it rather naturally and I was sorry for how often and how quickly I can jump someone with advice. I’ve heard my friend and author, Gary Barkalow, say many times…
Answers before questions are not helpful.
I have been practicing both of these men’s invitations. Who is my model, teacher, and guide on such matters? Jesus. He was (still is) incredibly compassionate, a marvelous listener, and the very best at asking questions. He honored those who shared their tales of woe. He invited it and when it was time... he cared for them. It was one of the reasons the crowds flocked to Him, His wonderful way… His reputation.
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Dear God, Holy Trinity, we worship you. We praise your name and we proclaim your goodness and glory over all creation. You created the heavens and the earth. You created every living thing. You alone keep it all together, keep it all moving and know every breath of every creature, including us. We declare your wildness and your tenderness. All of creation is in your redemptive and restorative hands. Thank you for writing this story, this redemptive and restorative story, and for allowing and inviting us to have a significant part to play.
Jesus, thank you for your work; the cross, resurrection, and ascension; all critical to our place in the story, all necessary if we were to join you in your mission of restoration. We declare, you are making all things new (Rev 21:5). We declare, you are the Good Shepherd (John 10). We desire to follow your voice, we long to be where you are. We receive your compassion again today… thank you for loving us.
And we follow you because we both need you and are being commissioned by you to carry on what you started. We receive your authority, again, this day (Matthew 28:18-20). We promise to pay attention to you in the learning of how to wield your power and authority. It is remarkable that you would share it with us, and yet, you do.
Holy Spirt, we receive you, again, this day. We confess and declare we need you. Guide us into Truth, and Counsel us in the ways of the Kingdom. Convict us in the ways to handle the hearts of others. Show us what it looks and feels like to be kind, to listen… to be slow to speak. Teach us Holy Spirit how to honor one another and how to advise less. Teach us how to intercede and pray for one another with power and authority, gentleness and grace.
Father, take us into our own stories. Take us into the times and spaces where we have been wounded, our hearts mishandled, to places we were not fathered, or times we were not fought for. Take us into our stories to the places in this love story amidst the great battle in which we were hurt, missed, and broken hearted... lost heart. We pray for a recovery and redemption from our wounds and those who wounded us that we might be made whole… be made new.
Dear God, it is all so exciting and so challenging. We pray your blessing over Zoweh today. Over the team, the mission, the coming Heart of a Warrior Weekend. We pray for the inviting, the recruiting, and all the preparation. We also pray protection against the evil one and the darkness that comes to steal, kill, and destroy our Life in you. We pray against all forms of diminishment, confusion, discouragement, guilt, shame, and fear… the spirits that keep men down and keep men away from their true selves. Over run these spirits Jesus, shield this message and the invitations from attack. Penetrate men’s hearts with Love, and woo them away to be with you and all you have to show them of who they are, where they are, and the good you are up to in their lives!
All this we pray in the matchless name of Jesus… Our Savior, Shepherd, and King. Amen and AMEN!