Wholeheartedly

Six weeks ago, I felt like I was drowning. Since April I have been battling this bizarre illness that doctors just can't seem to figure out. It’s been seven months of symptoms that do not respond to any medication, diet, or therapy. I have had doctors, at the top of their field, look at me and say, "I have never heard anyone describe what you are describing."

The feeling of hopelessness becomes so burdensome sometimes, that I feel like it’s literally swallowing me up. I am holding on so tightly to God through prayer, fasting, and studying the word, but I still feel like my fingers are starting to slip. So when I was invited to a prayer meeting at a friend's house a few weeks back, I immediately said yes. When I got out of the car and began walking into their house, I told the Lord, "Jesus...I NEED you to speak to me tonight! I NEED something from you...I am so desperate!" I felt like the woman who broke through the crowd and crawled on the ground just to touch the hem of His garment. I would have crawled through fire to get to Him.

The prayer meeting started with praise and worship, and I immediately felt the Spirit of the Lord. It was thick, almost palpable. When the worship was over, my friend, who was leading the group with her husband, said, “Lisa can we pray for you?” I had not told anyone at this prayer meeting what I had been going through-- in fact I only knew two of the people there-- but when she asked me, I replied desperately, with tears in my eyes, "Yes, please."

I went to the front of the room and they all circled around me and began to pray. What happened next was like something I have never experienced before. In the message this week, Pastor Bryon talked about being a church kid. That was me. I grew up in a charismatic church. I have seen people healed, I have received prophetic words over my life, and I have seen demons cast out of people. I have witnessed the works and miracles in the Bible as a child and I have felt and experienced the power of God my life since...but what happened on this night was something I have never felt before.

As they began to pray, I started to feel sick to my stomach. My throat, which is the main area of pain in my body, began to burn and feel like it was closing up. My heart started racing and I thought I was going to throw up. Guys, I was fine when I walked up to get prayed for, and then when they started, I was not fine. It wasn’t a panic attack-- unfortunately I know what those are like. It was something else I can’t explain. I couldn’t even pay attention to what they were saying because my head was swirling. I started to feel scared, because...what was happening?! I said in my head “Jesus, I am scared.” When I said that, I immediately felt someone put their hands on my shoulders-- kind of like a father does when standing behind his little one. No physical person did this. When I felt that touch, my body immediately responded to it. It was like I was a balloon ready to burst and then I just deflated. My heart slowed down, my mind stopped racing and I didn’t feel sick anymore. It was almost as if I was released from something. It was amazing.  

I knew I had felt the presence of the Lord, and I have been chasing that high ever since.

Pastor Bryon went on to explain in the message that millennials are leaving the faith in record numbers and that in order to build resilient disciples we must encounter the presence of God. So what does the Bible tell us about this? “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13). This doesn’t mean we pop into church once in a while or half listen to one church service a week online while we cook dinner. Wholeheartedly means completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic. I was determined to hear from the Lord. I had been in prayer and fasting for months! I was committed to getting a touch and that night I was not leaving that prayer meeting without something! I was seeking Him with my whole heart.

Are we wholeheartedly seeking out the presence of God, church? Are we giving room for the Holy Spirit to move in our lives, in our church and in our homes to do what only He can do? Because let me tell you, when he moves and you begin to experience it...well, that is the stuff that will bring those millennials back to church! If we want to experience the power of God-- the power that heals, the power that brings the prodigals back home, the power that sets the demoniac free, and the power that made a mockery of the principalities that raged against us on the cross--then we need to seek the Lord with our whole hearts and then give him room to move!

We sang a song in worship and some of the lyrics were “Jesus I believe in you and I would go to the ends of the earth.” But would we church? I mean would we really ? From what I have seen this last year...I would really challenge that.

Every symptom of this bizarre illness is not gone, I still have some bad days, but the good days are really good and I know that as I continue to walk out my faith and grab on to the healing that has already been given to me through the cross, those good days will be my only days. But what continues to renew my strength while I battle is being in the presence of the Lord: in the quiet, secret place where He meets me, where He refreshes me, where He gives me hope and peace, and where He shows me that I will live-- and live healthy-- and proclaim the good works of the Lord.  

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27  

by Lisa Duvall
Lisa has been attending Kingsway and serving on the prayer team since she moved to South Jersey in 2015. She is a freelance writer and former television reporter who now gets to spend her days at home with her two small children. Lisa is also passionate about the pro-life movement, volunteering with a local group called the Helpers of God's Precious Infants NJ, and freelances for pro-life online sites.