Sunday night was an incredible evening and I thank God for guiding every moment with His comforting spirit. Every month, First Baptist, Richmond holds a Service of Prayer for Healing. It is a more intimate worship service that includes prayer, candle lighting, reflection, anointing, and communion. The focus of the service is to allow those who are going through difficult times, like loss, grief, illness, etc.…to come and have prayer, light a candle, hear words of hope, scripture and music and to have their ministers provide prayer, communion and anointing if they chose. A speaker is invited to share testimony of how God brought about healing in his or her life. I have been the benefactor of these services over the past 16 months, feeling pieces of pain break away from my soul as I became more and more present in the moment of these prayers, music, words and support.
This time I was honored to be the one to provide the comforting words of healing and hope to the congregation. Senior Associate Pastor Lynn Turner asked if I would bring a special word to the people at Sunday’s service. I was humbled and not sure if I could do it. (I didn’t tell that part to Lynn.) I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share about my experience over the past four years. I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to do so either. Apparently God and Lynn thought otherwise. It was also going to be the first time I spoke and participated in worship since my position as minister was eliminated in Massachusetts.
The evening also gave me the chance to share the hope I find in my photographs because photography was the avenue in which I began to heal and find God present in the moment with me. I shared my testimony with the congregation and then presented a collection of photographs that came over these last years. Seeing God through my lens helped me to remember that God was with me the entire time. I explained how through the challenging times, photography became, and still is one of my spiritual practices and I feel so much better when I partake in those moments that allow me to “be” in the moment. Photography allows me to do that.
Something happened Sunday night that I didn’t expect to happen. As I shared how things are different for me now, this heaviness and this burden seemed to break loose, like the pieces of pain I talked about earlier. I had this feeling of accomplishment, like I needed to do this in order to show or prove that things are as good as they are. Does that make sense? I was able to talk about the pain without feeling hurt and ashamed…and just as important, I was able to do it without getting angry. I never thought about that before now. I was able to talk about the growth and put an exclamation point on the work I have done to stand up there and say, “I am ok.” It was a surreal moment.
I won’t share all of what I said in my testimony because I believe it’s time for me to move on, but I will tell you this: I am doing great and things are going to be ok. I have worked so hard to get to this point in time that my voice, confidence and assurance of who I am and who God wants me to be. More importantly, I have gotten to know Jesus Christ all over again. I have been reminded of what He taught me and thought of me, even before He died – and what a gift that has been. I knew that before, but to go through this time with Christ, with these friends, and find the compassion and love that I lost before, priceless. I know Christ more deeply, passionately and compassionately and nobody can take that away from me, even me.
Thank you Lynn, First Baptist Church, and thank you, God.
Note: The video presentation is the collection of photos I shared at the service the other night – moments when I saw God in the midst.