Just a few days ago I had the pleasure of attending a live taping of a Life Today show where my friend Amy Ford was sharing her story and talking about the release of her book, “A Bump In Life”. I could not help but remember when we first met …
It was in October of 2010 at a Pink Night of Worship at Gateway Church. I was attending alone. I had come straight from work so I got there just before the worship was to start, found a pretty good seat at the end of an aisle and settled in. There was a group of girls in that row, obviously excited about being there and ready to worship. One of them, who seemed to be the most energetic and bubbly one I might add, came straight to me, extended her hand and said, “Hi, my name is Amy Ford!” I shook her hand and told her my name. She asked if I was there alone and when I said yes she said, “We would love for you to hang out with us.” I thanked her and immediately felt like I was a part of this group of lovely ladies.
The night of worship was intense and amazing and did not really leave much of a chance for us to visit. Once it was over, I had to leave quickly, to get home to my kids before my husband headed to work for his night shift. As it ended and we all started leaving, Amy approached me again and said “Thanks for hanging out with us tonight Denise. It was so awesome to meet you.” To Amy this was nothing out of the ordinary. She was just being Amy. But to me, her welcoming gesture was an answer to prayer.
I was in a season of struggling with the transitions that were happening in my family that were bringing up all kinds hurts from my past. There were some very significant things that I had prayed for that were not working out and making me wonder why God was not listening to me. It sounds pretty pathetic but I am just being honest about where I was at that time. Ever feel like you are wearing so many layers of your own brokenness that you feel like it makes you invisible? That no one sees you, much less God Himself? I’ve walked with the Lord long enough to know this was nonsense but that is how I was feeling at that point. I know I am not alone in this, but every time I reach a point of vulnerability in life, the enemy constantly reminds me of all my failures. I am often guilty of letting him convince me that I am not worthy to be in places that I am obviously called to. I am not proud of this but sometimes I make it so easy for him. That particular night, I almost didn’t go to the event. My husband knew what I was going through and convinced me that I needed to go.
As I drove from work, I prayed and asked God for some kind of sign that I was not alone. Even though I had been to plenty of other events on my own, and normally make it a point to meet new people, this time when I walked in, I felt pitiful.
I expected for my prayer to be answered with some dramatic experience or by God revealing something to me in worship. But my answer came in the form of a sweet young lady who cared enough to say hello. There were three significant things about our short meeting. The first, was simply the fact that she said hello. The second, was that she invited me to be part of her group. The last, was that an hour and a half later, when the service was over and I was leaving, she called me by my name and thanked me for hanging out with them. …
Called me by my name!
God had my attention. I was not alone. Those few moments where someone showed the love of God changed my night. Did it change any of my situations? No. But it was exactly the touch I needed to see that God was in all of them and continue to walk through them with strength. The fact that I received her kind words before the service started, opened me up to hear the Lord in worship. Then, when she did not let me leave without again extending her kindness, confirmed that even though I arrived on my own, I was not alone.
Fast forward to this week when Amy spoke at Life Today. One of the biggest messages she wanted to share was how important it is to speak words of life over people. Words of life… what do those sound like? They do not necessarily come from some deep sermon where you clearly hear who you are to the Father. Often times they are simple words that sometimes even come from strangers that just show people they are loved. Amy has perfected the art of this. She truly has a gift of making sure no one goes unnoticed. And it does not stop after the initial meeting. I have to add that when I got home that night I looked Amy up on Facebook. I wanted to thank her for inviting me to sit with her and share a little about myself. In her reply she said she was glad we met, told me what campus she attended church and said to text her if I was ever there on a Sunday so we could sit together. There is nothing special about me. She just genuinely loves people.
I have a similar love for people but sometimes I have gotten so absorbed in my own issues that I missed an opportunity to speak words of life to someone that God put in my path for that very reason. I try to be aware of those opportunities now. The desire of my heart is for no one to go unnoticed or feel invisible when I’m around. Many times this means stepping out of my comfort zone because I am a pretty shy person but it is ALWAYS worth it.
The great thing about “words of life” is they not only breathe life over the person who receives them, but they do the same for the person who speaks them. Are there times you go to church and sit with your group or family where others sit around you that you don’t even acknowledge? There could be someone sitting close by that needs a hello from you. When you go to the grocery store or a restaurant, how do you treat the people who work there? Do you acknowledge them, look them in the eye and take the time to learn their name? Yes, they are in an industry where their job is to serve you, but they are people that God loves who each have their own story.
From what I see every day, most people look straight through them and some people are just flat out rude. Please know, my point is not to make anyone feel bad or point fingers, but to challenge everyone to be sensitive to the people around you that may be hurting. They may be in a situation where they desperately need to hear from God and you may be the answer to prayers they don’t even know they have. I challenge you to do for them what my friend Amy did for me the night we met because there is so much power in a simple “Hello”.