If you asked me to assign a shade to the color of my skin I’d say – with emphasis – “chalk.” In a room of white women, I will be the whitest. And on Friday, April 20, 2018, I’m sure my chalky self caused a few eyebrows to raise. But God doesn’t see my color, or theirs, or yours for that matter. God sees the heart.
When I first read La’Kesha Calhoun’s on-line newsletter in 2000 I knew God had anointed this woman.
She’d “gone through” more than a few things in her life, the kind of things that break the heart of a woman, but also plants the seed of compassion so deep in a woman’s soul the devil himself can’t uproot it, though he tries.
One particular newsletter stayed with me for years. She encouraged her readers “don’t give up on your children. God is about to show up in the situation.” And friends, I printed that newsletter and have it (still) tucked in my Bible because every now and then I need reminding that “the devil has plans for your children, but God . . . “
God has other plans.
This paper is dappled with tearstains. It’s crumpled. It’s what I held onto when my son was going through a rough patch and it’s what I cling to now with the other adult-child.
So when I learned Miss La’Kesha would be at the Titus 2 retreat in Pigeon Forge I messaged Lady Chiquita Turner and all but BEGGED the woman to let me come.
Now before I try to describe the indescribable things that happened to me, y’all need to know my church history. I’ve spent the last seventeen years in a church I adore. I adore it because we welcome everyone. I sit beside Miss Mary because when the spirit fills her she can’t contain it, nor did she try to contain it.
Miss Mary don’t put on a show, she puts on JESUS !
When Lady Turner said I could come I told everyone I knew, “I’m going to Pigeon Forge to get my Jesus.”
Because Jesus loves white girls with chalky legs and God himself knew way back in 2000 that I’d meet La’Kesha on April 20, 2018. I like to think of Him smiling up in heaven with the saints saying, “y’all gather around and watch this. I’ve just plunked Renea into a big ole room of strangers. It’s about to get real!”
La’Kesha and I both wiped away tears as we hugged at our first meeting. Settling into her conference (and I can’t tell you everything that happened because it is HER story to tell), I began to realize how much I’d been holding inside: pain, regret, anger, fear. I’d pushed that down, deep down to the basement level of my heart.
But God . . .
That sly Father-God had other plans. He wanted everyone in attendance to release all of that junk. Release it and be free. Whew, I wish y’all had been with me. I’m telling you right now we have no idea how much junk we’re carrying. During one part of the workshop we were asked to write down the things we were going to release and those who finished writing earlier than others, were instructed to walk around the room and “pray for our sisters.”
Now God had already blessed me just by allowing me to get into the conference, but He was about to bring me to my knees. If you don’t know Jesus this sounds crazy, so bear with me for the rest of this post.
Shontell approached and said, “God has given me a word and I need to pray it over you.”
Let me pause right there because someone just said, here we go.
Someone just closed their mind because they don’t believe that God can use other people.
Someone just stopped reading because they don’t believe that God can speak through Shontell, or me, or you for that matter.
Someone just missed the blessing God designed specifically for them.
But, if God can’t speak to me through a stranger, who in the world is He going to use? C’mon now, open your heart. How is it that you accept everything else the world spoon feeds you, but right now you’re building a wall around your heart?
We beg God for a sign; we pray to hear from Him. But we . . . .
We put God in a box and duct tape the entire box shut ! We expect God to show up when we want. We expect God to deliver us in the way we want. We get tired of waiting and give up!
But these ladies do not put God in a box. Not Shontell, not Lady Turner, not La’Kesha, not Big Mama, not even the young ladies in attendance. My friends, God was out in the open determined to bless every single woman in that room. As a matter of fact, I think people up on the 5th floor got blessed too, but I digress.
And why was God blessing people? Because these ladies came expecting to meet God where they were!
For those who have given up on church, or walked away from God (or both), let me explain that I actively ask God Are my actions in-line with your will? Today, many people have walked away because they aren’t being “entertained,” or they don’t like the view of the church, or the politics of the church, or the music, or the robes, or the preacher, or the message. Hear me clear, if you’ve walked away from God you have fallen victim to satan’s plan! He wanted you away from believers and you played right into his hands.
Now back to Shontell. . .
Remember, I don’t know any of these women. I am not Facebook friends with them, I’m not messaging them. I didn’t get introduced to them prior to the conference, or before La’Kesha started the workshop. None of these women have read my books. They live in another state, but Shontell came to me and said, “God has given me a word and I need to pray it over you.”
Then she pulled me to her. She pressed her heart flat against mine. She placed her hands on my shoulders and she said, “That pain you’ve had in your shoulders. God’s gonna take that pain . . . today.”
Shontell had no way of knowing that every morning pain woke me at three am and I began icing my shoulders. The place she touched, that’s where the pain originated. Then I’d put the heating pad on it, then the ice repeating this process until 6 am where I’d run a bath, drop a couple handfuls of Epson salt in the water and soak until the muscles relaxed enough so I could turn my head.
Shontell didn’t know. . . BUT GOD KNEW!
Shontell only knew to be OBEDIENT to what God had laid on her heart.
I’m tearing up right now. Praise you Jesus for showing up. Praise God for Shontell’s obedience, for actively seeking God’s will in her life.
Then Shontell ran her hands down my back and said, “your back that’s been all out of alignment. God’s going to heal that. God says it’s healed. God knows you’ve been tired. You’ve been so tired you don’t think you can go on; you don’t think you’ll make it through the day. You think you can’t do it anymore. But do you want to know what God says? God says you’re going to run. Renea, you’re going to RUN and not even be tired.”
Hang on readers, I’m crying again.
Had I been a close-minded Christian I would have straightened my spine, I would be exactly what The Bible calls “a stiff-necked people.” I would have backed away . . . slowly and headed for the door.
Instead, I fell into Shontell. I said, “I receive this healing!” I said, “Thank You Jesus! Praise You! Thank you for this precious child of yours who is acting in obedience.”
I clung to this stranger. I pressed myself into her, because God was using her! I received God’s goodness because I have PRAYED FOR IT. So if I prayed for healing. If I prayed for Jesus to meet me at this conference, how dare I try to manipulate the way God delivered Him to me?
Are you with me? Do you understand what I’m saying?
This is where we miss our blessing. This is why our prayers remain unanswered. Because we want God to appear (today if possible), and we want God to deliver (us exactly in the way we want, please). We hurl God in a box then we close our minds. We are afraid to let the spirit work. We don’t want to be the only white girl in a room full of strangers. We want to be safe in our small group, in our Sunday school class, in our prayer closets.
But The Bible says in Mark 8:23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of town. Jesus took the man out of his comfort zone, away from friends, away from family. Jesus took him out of town to heal him! The scripture does not say, Jesus carried the man, or Jesus, drug the man out of town. The blind man was willing to be healed !
Where is Jesus trying to take you today in order to be healed? My friends, let the spirit lead you out of your comfort zone to a place of healing.
book, Breakfast with the Lord which you can order directly through her via the same email address.Renea Winchester is the author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She writes a weekly garden article, Notes from Butterfly Cove, available at The Sylva Herald.