I’ve been up at the front exactly twice during an invitation at church, both times at my church in San Diego. It was because I was a small group leader, and the pastor called us to the front to pray for or with people every now and then. Honestly, it wasn’t something I was terribly comfortable with at the time, because I didn’t feel…worthy, or qualified to lift anyone else up to God. I felt broken, and sort of…held together.
But the pastor called, so up I went.
I remember the first time, I sat nervously on the step, wondering if anyone would come to me—there were quite a few people sitting around the stage. I silently prayed that if someone did end up with me, that I would have the right words to say when the time came.
I felt like the kid in left field, asking God “Please don’t let anyone hit it to me.”
Shortly after that, I saw a pretty woman in her late thirties or early forties make her way down the aisle to where I was sitting. She was tall for a woman, and very slender. She had a bandanna tied around what looked to be a very bald head, and my first thought was cancer.
What I remember most is she looked very, very tired, and from what it looked like, had been sitting alone in the sanctuary.
She stopped right before me, and I slowly stood. She took both my hands in hers, and I could see the gentle sheen of tears in her eyes.
“Hi,” I said. “How can I…”
Before I could finish my sentence, she dropped her head toward her chest and the tears began to flow.
God, I prayed. What do I say? What do I do to help her?
You do nothing, was the sense I got. You say nothing.
So I didn’t. She was a little older than me at the time, but I just reached out my arms and I hugged her.
She cried on my chest for a good five minutes, and I just prayed silently in my head for her. Mainly that she could experience Jesus through her pain, and that I not ruin any experience that might happen. I never asked for healing. I don’t know why.
She lifted her head a minute or so later, and she just smiled a gentle smile at me, and said “thank you.”
“It was my pleasure,” I said.
She stepped back and said, “I guess I needed that.”
She looked at me for a moment, and then walked back down the aisle, and out of the sanctuary.
I stood there for a moment, and realized I didn’t feel nervous anymore. I actually felt peaceful. I could still feel the woman’s arms around me, and smell the faint scent of Sunflowers (I think that’s what it’s called) clinging to my t-shirt.
I didn’t remember anyone holding onto me like that since I was a kid. Not in a romantic way, but still loving. Comforting.
Like I was a brother.
I realized it was me who needed the prayer, and in that moment, needed her.
And it occurred to me that maybe she’d been praying for me the whole time I was praying for her. Maybe she was crying for me. I felt like I got the most of the blessing.
That was the only time I saw her.
I don’t know her name, but when I think about God meeting my needs (which he does every time I ask), I always think of her, and of Sunflowers perfume.
And I think one of the funny things about God is sometimes you just need to show up, and let him do the work.