Let’s get real for a minute.
I once had a friend who was talented in the gift of music. One day she called in tears and was being uprooted from her home. I already had two extra people living with my son and me. We were also in the process of digging out to relocate, but I told her to come and stay until she figured things out. Meanwhile, I had a young son who was depressed, and a dog who had become way over protective of me due to my sickness. My beloved Rex had begun to bite just about everyone– except—well, me, and my son.
A few weeks later. . .
With so many in the small quarters, I was juggling my dog from my bedroom to the backyard. Rex, in Houdini fashion, had learned to escape by jumping the fence. I had not acquired such skills yet.
Rex was my second dog there. The first was a beagle named Gary, who my ex-husband had dropped off unannounced while I was at work. The dog was a sniffer, and he cried and howled continuously no matter what you did for him. One day, after a long shift, I mouthed under my breath audibly, “I wish that dog would die.” Of course, I didn’t mean it, but the next day Gary died. Yes… a lawn mowing accident perhaps. I wasn’t mowing, but I am certain, I killed Gary just the same. A rock flung up and hit him in the temples at just the right spot.
Back to my house guest.
A few weeks in and multiple piles of laundry in front of my washer–I felt spent. I decided one night to have dinner with a friend, leaving my dog locked in my bedroom for a short duration. During dinner, my newest guest called to tell me her daughter was coming for the weekend. Her husband had full custody of her daughter due to her health issues but she got her on weekends. It had been weeks since she had seen her. She was excited. She was already sleeping on my couch. Where would her daughter sleep?
I couldn’t breathe.
I remember praying under my breath for Abba to stop the insanity. I couldn’t handle another person, and I was still quite sick from MS. I said, “Abba send her away!”
I arrived home after dinner to find more bags and another guest. I tried to smile and be friendly, but inside I was screaming, “release me Abba.” Rex was growling from behind the door and he was a good 100 pounds. I was so fatigued, and now I had to get the leash and take him outside, making sure he did not weasel his way into the neighbor’s yard and bite them or one of my houseguest.
Within minutes of taking the dog out, her daughter felt sick at her stomach. She wanted to leave. She began to cry. She was around fourteen. I tried to console her. I offered food—a Ginger-ale—Tums. Her father picked her up shortly afterward. I was relieved. I made my way outside for fresh air. A few minutes later my friend came outside on the porch where I sat, and she looked at me teary eyed and said, “Someone prayed for my daughter to leave.” Someone has caused this because they didn’t want my daughter here!” They made her sick and oh, how BADLY I HAVE MISSED HER. Tears and anger rolled gently off her cheeks.”
Have you ever not wanted someone in your space?
I will never forget that moment– along with many other splatters of shame that have wedged in my brain. Perhaps you have never had these thoughts? Perhaps you have never prayed these prayers, or thought these thoughts, about a person or a dog for that matter– or perhaps you have?
The heart—who can know it? The mouth eventually gives it away unless the person has jaws of steel and the silent treatment is their MO. But ask their spouses—yes, they know and so does our Heavenly Husband. He knows our hearts. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2nd Chronicles 16:9 NASB.
Years ago, I was asked to share at an assembly with hubby when we were newly married. I was sharing a testimony—no doctrine—no teaching that anyone could inspect with a microscope, but suddenly I couldn’t think right. I couldn’t speak. I had no words. Fumbling. I felt–unwanted.
And just like my friend on the porch that night, with her antennas out screaming, “SOMEONE PRAYED FOR MY DAUGHTER TO LEAVE!” I felt it. I was pretty sure I knew who it was commanding under their breath for my mouth to be shut. I quickly apologized for my loss of memory and turned things over to the one in charge. About a week later this person sat on my couch in my living room and told me he cringed when my husband handed me the microphone. This person was a straight shooter. How could I not forgive him? I was no better.
Straight shooters at times seem more refreshing than the ones who hide behind layers of perfection and never pull their heart out and show people the cuts, bruises, insecurities, rejections, and weaknesses. They appear perfectly put together.
Have you ever listened to someone pray a wet noodle– pitiful mossy flavored prayer that would make a better Nyquil commercial? Ever think while they’re praying it—“Won’t you please get DONE!!@#?” Probably not…
Sadly, I have.
I’ve sat and judged and thought, “if I was praying and proclaiming this scripture and that scripture and summoning powerful words that are led by His Ruach Holy Spirit. . .
We can often survey fruit like a cantaloupe or an avocado that we need to check for ripeness and walk past a mirror and glance at it and never even notice we have spinach in our teeth, and a roll of toilet tissue stuck in our underwear draping down our smelly back sides.
Most of us have never seen ourselves on television or in real time. We have watched the freshly groomed, cleaned shaven, makeup intact, well-rehearsed versions of ourselves. But grab a camera in the middle of a fight with a spouse, or a hot day in traffic with a screaming toddler, or eight house guest and try and post our youtube channels. No, we don’t capture those moments. We don’t see ourselves as others do. If I had to guess it’s probably one way or the other. We see ourselves a little too good or not good at all. Yes, and even that has pity and pride in it–but then there is the other issue that’s far worse.
My mother used to wear very nice maxi dresses which she hand stitched using McCall’s patterns and added adornments. My mother was very attractive and always looked much younger than her years. So one day a lady who lived in the neighborhood had been watching my mother leave for church and other engagements in her long maxis and came over and inquired about borrowing one of my mother’s gowns for a special occasion. My mother weighed about a hundred and thirty pounds and the woman who stood before her weighed at least three hundred. She thought she could borrow one of my mom’s dresses because she, like us, kept passing by the mirror and seeing what she wanted to see reflecting back at her.
There is another story about my mother that I will never forget. One day she was invited to a Tupperware party. Yes, I’ve told this one before. The party was hosted by a lady whose husband worked with my dad. My mother and his wife were good friends. They were Pentecostals. I don’t think they wore headscarves or Tzitzit’s, but they had their own attire. Long hair, no makeup, and a strict unspoken rule book. My mother showed up to the party with her thick eyeliner, mascara, bleach blonde hair, and a pair of jeans. The women soon gathered in the kitchen away from my mother. They whispered. They snickered. They made remarks my mother overheard. Jezebel.
Finally, my mother stood in front of them as the Tupper ware presentation was coming to a close and she said, “If you really think I’m a Jezebel headed for hell, shouldn’t you have shown me love and told me about your God—my God—our God? Isn’t love the greatest gift? Won’t the world know us by our love?”
You could have heard a pin drop in the room. It was a Harper Valley P.T. A- moment. My mother in tears made her way home.
Let’s go further.
One night before a conference with a pastor I traveled to churches with ministering, a small group of us in ministry had gathered outside the sanctuary and we were all talking on couches when several others came and sat with us. Some of them had issues with mental health. One was convinced he was the anti-Christ. They were coming to these meetings for prayer and healing. Some had issues that needed to be dealt with. One night, a woman who most did not want around them due to her beady eyes, a strange sense of humor, and continuous mirth at all the wrong moments, sat across the way from me and began to talk, tease, and chatter to the persons next to her. The woman road a public transit bus there and had some form of disability. I glanced at her backpack on wheels with its Jesus stickers and hearts and pondered her idiosyncrasies.
She had never married or had children. One by one, I watched people scurry away. Suddenly, they were in need of using the restroom or began to gather into another area by the coffee machine, but Abba sort of whispered to me in that moment—see her. Do you want to be with the elite? Go love my sheep with all the love and even more that you have for these you are looking up to—these who are impressed by your Biblical knowledge—these who have asked you to speak on Thursday night… because, Tekoa, I am not impressed.
Me, out of everyone there, should have understood. I was the child who was drug, literally, while crying, down the hallway by my sister and principal the first year of my schooling. I was the last one picked for sporting events in PE. I was the shy pigeon toed girl who sat at lunch in elementary school alone at times. Children holding their noses at my smelly paper sack lunch with hard boiled eggs that stunk. Children making fun of me. I learned to throw my food away on the way to school. Then I was ganged in Middle school and beaten up. I learned to disappear in a room. Now I was watching adults do what was done to me.
I walked over by this woman created by my Father and began to make small talk. I eased into the chair next to her. I began to ask her personal things and smile—look deeper into her small eyes and imagine His eyes shining back at me. I tried to ignore that it was summer and she was wearing thick tights the color of a 1990’s hunter green kitchen counter top or that her paisley mauve dress looked dated from 1940, or how she cracked 3rd-grade jokes, laughing hysterically. And then I began to ask her about her life—dreams—aspirations. Mostly what I remember next is this woman in her 40’s crying buckets of tears and her telling me about her pain—her heavenly Father (personal,) her earthly father who passed away and her tragic upbringing.
And in that moment. . .
My mother–misunderstood, attired in lipstick and eyeliner, could have been sitting next to me in a room full of religious spirits. And if you think it doesn’t exist in our new found Torah fellowship, our smiling Joel stadium, our small rural congregation, our shul, our synagogue–find a mirror.
Where was I?
Yes, hunter green stockings lady.
I listened as she unfolded the sad details of her life in an articulate manner and how much love she had for Abba. I felt smaller than small. I tried to imagine all the ones He created and shaped on his Potter’s wheel that we ignore—angels unaware—
We hurt—we judge—or we think we know what could come forth out of their heart and parted lips. The ones we pray to stop talking—stop speaking—stop praying–fade into the background of our lives or die like a dog who howls too loudly.
The lepers are crying out in this season.
CAN YOU HEAR THEM?
They scream, “Son of David have mercy on me!” While the crowd tries to shut their mouths. Have mercy they roar– as we scoot to the other side of the street—the room–we pretend we don’t hear them or see them.
There was a Canaanite woman whose daughter was vexed with demons and she was in great need, but what did his chosen men say at that time?
“Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
She keeps laughing too loudly.
She has dirty laundry.
I’m too tired.
The healthy, chosen disciples, who one day would ponder which side—the right or the left– they could sit on in His kingdom, had no compassion or empathy for a Canaanite woman with a daughter who was demon possessed.
Wasn’t their problem. Who cares if her daughter screams all night—hisses—puts holes in the walls—wears green stockings–not our problem.
SEND HER AWAY!
I don’t need another houseguest Abba.
Can you hear my voice echoing from amongst His talmidim (disciples?)
Can you hear yours?
We, like them, wait to do what’s right—what we know is right.
We wait like Noah until the rain covers our ankles before we get on the Ark. . .
We wait like Moses until our wife has to circumcise our sons.
We wait until it’s dark to get an appointment with the King of All Kings.
We wait until it’s the Day of Atonement to get on our face and weep.
Sometimes people with titles who are well known get better treatment, and we make sure to respond to them quickly. Sometimes cliques happen and the people in them don’t even know that they have formed a group of elites—big dogs. We can walk in a room and feel loved, cherished, and wanted, or we can walk in a room and feel like a square peg amongst a group of round circles.
I wrote a chapter called Chickens and Pecking Orders in my book Thirsting for Water— I’m telling you they are more real than you know.
I’m almost finished.
I once was asked to drive to Bardstown, KY, and pray for a woman who was sick. She had a tumor that covered half her face and it came from her eyeball that looked like a cyclops. The first time I saw her and laid hands on her, I thought I might throw up from the feeling of inadequacy to do anything for her as I cried out for Abba to heal her and also by the appearance of her face. Have mercy—I wept for her—but. . . One afternoon as they were having a woman of valor type conference with food and fun, I, on the other hand, had to go pray and clean this woman’s home and her body—our body. The title of the conference was how to be a servant. Of course, we are talking a good 8 to 10 years ago, so I was still quite immature. I couldn’t just do my hidden offerings. I had to announce it, and I couldn’t just do it and feel honored that He had chosen me.Nope, not without pointing fingers at all the women who were having fun and who was the real servant? Well, it was me, of course! (Sarcasm) With my chest pumped out and my pride in hand, I judged them–and weren’t they healthy? I mean I was too sick to drive to the sick woman’s house I was going to. They were just all about themselves.
I must find one!
Here’s the dilemma: You and I have been selected to host a banquet or a Feast among the most prestigious men/women of the day. They are the crème de la crème! The most wonderful food, drinks, furnishings, are being prepared. It’s a Joyful Celebration! We will get to meet those in leadership afterward and drink up their knowledge. We have our guest list made out. It’s exciting!
But then. . . He speaks.
“ “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Since they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” The resurrection of the righteous…Luke 14:12-14.
One night you decide to venture away from the crème de la crème.
Yes, take a boat ride to a cemetery where two men are naked, deranged, cutting themselves and crying out. Their veins are shot. They’ve sold their bodies for one more fix. They have abscesses oozing, burn marks and scabs on their skin. Dark circled eyes that lack emotion. Hollowness. They’ve robbed their grandmother and stolen their family’s possessions in order to get high— just one more fix. You’ve heard they were molested—some tragedy befell them–No one in the town dares to try and help them, for chains won’t even hold them. Their children have given up on them. Matter a fact, the other day, someone said that if someone took a 9 milometer to their heads, and threw them in an unmarked grave, the whole city would probably feel better. What?
But suddenly, yes, and then suddenly, the Ruach HaKodesh shows up. You pray and He shows up with great power. When you leave two men are clothed and in their right mind, and you tell them to go minister to their family, and that they don’t need to follow your ministry. Go make disciples!
We have a choice every day to touch people. We have a choice to make a difference in someone’s life. We can do it with bitterness, pride, going through the motions, and so forth, or we can do it in love.
Yeshua was the Son of man, who took the time to see one woman at a well. I’ve preached this before but it seems time to do it again. One woman who didn’t even have the facts right. She didn’t have the whole book down pat with all the truth. Many of us would have screamed, “False prophet” Shun her!
“Woman,” Yeshua replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Yes, salvation is of the Jews—we don’t need to worry about their salvation–they’ll be just fine.
Yeshua went on to say that he was looking for a certain type of person who would worship Him in spirit and in truth, and this woman grabbed on to His Words and went and preached the gospel to her whole city.
During this time of introspection, let’s not just look in the mirror, but let’s get on the scales and see if we can fit into our wedding garments. Let’s all find the people no one deems important and go sit by them.
Invite them to our Feast!
Let us have a guest list that may even get us a spot in THE FIRST resurrection. Paul said he hoped he was found worthy of making that one.
Forgive me, but I need to go find a mirror!