by Matt Helland
There is a Chinese proverb about a man who received a special gift from the gods. It was a little nut shell with a red lint hanging out of it that had very special powers. Whenever the man would have a problem or difficulty all he had to do was pull the red lint and the problem would be over. For example, if he had a test on Friday, he would pull the red lint on Thursday and it would suddenly be Saturday and the test would have been behind him and he would have passed the test with flying colors. This man, we can call Harry, was so happy with his shell and the little red lint that he always kept it with him.
A difficult discussion with his boss, wife or kids was always to be solved by simply pulling on the red little lint. This little red lint was his secret to success and happiness. With it, he was able to achieve the western dream of owning a house, two cars, three kids and a dog. Yet Harry never experienced seeing his children’s birth or wondering if he could make a mortgage payment, the little red cord took care of that. He had wonderful vacations and was very much liked at his work. He had a comfortable life and everyone who saw him on the outside thought that he had it all together. Secretly though, he did not.
Harry had become a slave to the red lint. It allowed him to have his life under control. No one needed to know his secret and no one needed to get too close to him because he had a safe solution for everything. Yes, the red lint was a superficial solution, but it gave him the luxury of never having to fear, worry or go through something of which the outcome could be negative for him.
Harry loved his feeling of safety. He liked seeing his kids grow up and succeed in school. When his daughter or sons had relational problems or when they needed him to be around, he would just pull on the string and the problems would be solved. What an ideal life…right?
When Harry turned eighty-five and his wife had passed away and it seemed like he had the “ideal” life, he looked back and realized he had never really lived. Because he had always chosen the “safe” route, he had never experienced real pain or difficulty. His superficial solutions and going through the routine of life meant that he never really experienced anything painful, but it also meant that he never felt true joy, triumph and the delight of seeing a dark night be overcome by the light of a new dawn rising. Harry had always chosen to take the “safe” route. He lived in a “safe mode”of life. He did what was expected of him and he always played it safe. Now that he was eighty-five he saw that life had passed him by and he had never truly lived. Life was like a roll of toilet paper: at the beginning it appeared very long but at the end it was disappearing way too quickly. This was a tragedy.
We all have the potential of living like “Harry.” Perhaps we don’t have a red lint in a shell, but we use food, busyness, sex, drugs, fame, or power to keep us from truly living. Being a busy leader and having four kids myself, I know what it means to be occupied preparing sermons, planning activities as well as going to soccer practices, swimming lessons, changing diapers (all good and important things), but not taking time to reflect on how I am living. Setting the cruise control on life is comfortable and easy, but if we are not careful we may miss the exits which lead us to finding that for which our heart really longs for. If we don’t get off at any exits, we risk the danger of, like Harry, never “living” life.
What is your dream? What is your passion? What steps are you taking to make that a reality? One of my greatest passion’s in life is using spiritual gifts to bring healing and encourgement to people’s lives in the name of Jesus Christ. In a culture which bows at the altar of Secularism (there is no God or higher power), Materialism (all you see is all that exists), Rationalism (reason is the highest authority in life) and being self-reliant (I am a self-made man), this can be a “challenge.”
Last year I made a decision to periodically go to Psychic Fairs where I could use these spiritual gifts in a setting where people are more open to “spiritual” things. This has been a lot of fun for me as I have been able to see a lot of people literally healed or encouraged as we served them with gifts from the Holy Spirit. However, I want to see this take place more often.
Last week, my wife (whom I always need to listen to) told me that I needed to be on the street every week praying for people and giving them “spiritual gifts.” She said, “You have the gifts, ability and passion to do that so you have to do it every week and get other people to do it with you.”
Even though I did not like it at all, she was right. Two days ago, I went with another friend of mine to go pray for people on the street. In a couple of hours we prayed for about ten people some of whom experienced healing or heat in their body as we prayed for them. Six of them received words of knowledge which they confirmed to be true. Without going in further details, it was an evening that was easy, fun and enjoyable. This is part of the reason for which I am made for.
Part of my dream is to become an effective healer and prophet in the streets and cities of Western Europe. I want to make God’s love tangible not by arguing with people about philosophy or doctrine, but by demonstrating his power by giving out spiritual gifts of healing, encouragement and life (1 Cor. 2:14). The most difficult part though is how to deliver these gifts.
One Dutch friend of mine, Juriaan Beek, weekly sees people get healed on the street. His strategy is simple. He generally goes to younger people who are more open to spiritual things. He looks for people who are not in a hurry and seem to have time for a conversation. Then he talks to them and offers them a gift (healing or an encouraging word) from God. Many times people are not healed, but more often than not they are. These spiritual gifts developed in his life when he decided that he was going to go out weekly and pray for people and not worry about whether people were going to be healed or not. The more he prays for people, the more healings and miracles he sees.
I have now made the decision to also go every week on the street for two to three hours and simply offer to pray for people. Two days ago, I walked up to people and just told them I had a gift of healing and if they had any pain they would like to get rid of. Many people said no (and thought I was absolutely crazy) but many people said yes and some very cool things took place. If my fear of people’s NOs paralyze me, then I will not get to experience the possible healings, signs and wonders that might take place when people say YES. When people say YES, anything is possible. Am I willing to get many NOs in order to get some Yeses? You better believe it.
Why and How?
But what is my real motivation to do this? Is it to show off or to make people uncomfortable? No, my motivation is love. As a child, I was miraculously healed of cerebral palsy. I should have never been able to walk, yet I received a gift of healing from Jesus Christ. I know that he wants to give out many more gifts to other people, yet a gift can not be forced upon someone, only received. I want to be one who hands out spiritual gifts for free to everybody who wants one. However, this takes faith and faith is actually spelled R-I-S-K.
Taking risks means that I will not pull on the red cord Harry pulled in order to avoid difficulties and problems. Honestly, a part of me loves to pull on the red cord, but the price of living in comfortable safety has a high price tag I don’t want to pay. Maybe your dream is not to be a street healer or prophet, but what do you long for? What do you dream of? Why don’t you take time today to turn the cruise control off of life and write down what you really want to do? We only get to live life once. There is no dress rehearsal. Why don’t we throw away any red cords in our lives and start living today? What is keeping you from turing off the “safe mode” of life and doing that which you really want to do?