"You have been given an ounce of strength," Mr. Ludy said to us at 5:30 am for our Corporate Prayer session. "And your tendency is to clutch it to yourself, because you've been weak. You want to say, 'My ounce!' and keep it. But in God's economy, the way to get more is to spend what you have. So I'm asking you to spend your ounce on someone else. Let's be outward focused. Let's bear each other's burdens."
He asked for seven burdens to be shared with the group for our corporate prayer session, and I raised my hand to share the following request.
Cynthia had messaged me on facebook the day before and I asked her how she was doing.
"Not too well," she said.
"What happened?" I asked.
"My uncle shot and killed my aunt and then shot and killed himself, and now my cousins are living with us."
My heart broke for her. Cynthia used to be in my Sunday School class and was always very receptive to the Word of God. She gave her life to Christ and I could see God changing her. She tried to be helpful at home, worked very hard to memorize Scripture (which didn't come easily to her), and did everything she could to set a good example to her two younger sisters. But her home situation wasn't the best. Her mom is a single parent and doesn't know the Lord. There is smoking in the home and boyfriends coming in who don't always treat the girls right. Now there are her newly orphaned cousins living with them, and all of them are grieving and struggling to make it. Cynthia's mom has been unemployed for over a year, so I truly don't know how they're surviving.
"Isn't it amazing," Mr. Ludy said, "that God knows what this family is going through, and He knows they are connected to Rebekah, and He knows that she's right here right now. They have no idea that our whole student body is going to be praying for them, but God has allowed this need to be made known to us, and we accept this burden to spend our strength interceding for them."
So we accepted this burden and poured ourselves out before the Lord for this family. Oh, how we prayed. We prayed the kind of prayers that are all but dead in modern Christianity--mighty, faith-filled prayers that wrestle, that do business, that actually get somewhere, that trust God to bring an answer.
Others shared six other similar burdens (two soldiers in Afghanistan who had been injured by a bomb, a missionary family in Thailand who had lost their father to death by an exploding firework, a woman who was addicted to pain meds, a student's atheist brother, another student's atheist friend, and another student's unsaved sisters).
Ironically enough, before I got to Ellerslie, it was precisely this sort of request that had come to annoy me.
You know how it is. You're in church, and the person up front says, "Are there any prayer requests?" So Joe in the fourth pew raises his hand and says, "Yeah, I've got a coworker who just found out that her sister has cancer. So if we could pray for her, her name is Brenda, and I think she's unsaved, too."
This would make me feel slightly exasperated. "How am I supposed to care or remember about your coworker's sister? I can't even remember my own prayer requests, let alone something about somebody who's not even connected to me." I would silently resolve to myself that I would not be the one to bring this sort of request before the body. It seemed to me that it was a way of passing the buck, like "I feel bad for this person, and I'd like to release these bad feelings by asking the church to pray for it, because I know that once I've shared it, I will feel at peace about it, knowing that it's in God's hands."
But here at Ellerslie, the emphasis on our training is "being made strong in order to be poured out for the weak." And it's amazing how much God has wrought a change in me just in the two short weeks I've been here, because these thoughts are the farthest thing from my head now. I greatly value the body of Christ for the way we can bear each other's burdens. And I am willing to accept a burden of someone who is unknown to me, just as I would hope that others would accept Cynthia's burden and make it their own. Thus, working together, expending our strength in prayer (which, by the way, is the hardest work a human being can do), we become an unstoppable force, to beat back the enemy and see the kingdom of God established in one more person's life.
Thank you, God, for continuing to teach me and help me to grow! I will spend my ounce of strength for you, trusting you to supply me more, exactly when it's needed, and exactly as much as I need.