I was 18 and found myself in a dark classroom in a remote part of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. As if Siberia isn't remote enough to begin with. We had just finished a school assembly program and one of the teachers grabbed me and insisted that we pray for a young girl in another classroom who needed a miracle. It seemed as if the teacher had more faith than I did at this moment. I was simply full of fear and doubt and felt like I was walking into a trap where disappointments would run high if I didn't do something for a 14 year old girl named Olga who I later found out had some form of multiple sclerosis.
My faith was having a major internal collision with my fear. What if God didn't answer this prayer? How would this teacher respond if Olga wasn't healed? Would they assume that all I had said about Jesus in my assembly program was false? My logical, over-analytical mind was in full gear and I was quickly searching for a practical solution to escape the situation all together.
As I walked into the room I saw a young girl crying as she sat in the corner. It was explained to me that she was often picked on by others, didn't fit in well with the class and that she couldn't run and play like the other girls. Her back was crooked and arched forward like you see in an elderly person at times. She couldn't walk and most of the time she couldn't even stand. As I saw the tears streaming down her face my heart was captured by compassion, but my faith was still arrested by fear. The teacher who had escorted me into the room very boldly said to me, "You need to pray for her and heal her!"
Now, I've been asked to pray for people many times, but I've never been told to heal someone. As you can imagine that didn't really give my faith the pick me up that I needed. My internal struggle only increased. I felt trapped. I had just finished an assembly program where I had boldly declared that Jesus was the only God. Students in that program told me that a group of Jehovah's Witnesses had been there the week before with a different message. They asked me to prove why my message was true vs. theirs. It was a challenging discussion, but I left feeling confident that I has sown good seed into the hearts of those students, but now just minutes later my faith was on the line. Surely the whole school would find out how Olga's story ended. Word would spread and decisions of faith and belief would be made based on the outcome of this prayer.
It was in that moment that it suddenly dawned on me that it wasn't my reputation that was on the line here, but God's. This was a moment where God would receive all the glory. It was His reputation on the line and when God's reputation is on the line He never fails.
With a faith that was slightly stronger than my fear we laid hands on Olga and asked the Almighty God to heal. In just seconds her face lit up and in the midst of her crying she exclaimed that she felt a warm sensation moving down her back and into her legs and that she felt strong enough to stand. At this point we were all crying, including the teacher who had escorted us into the room as we watched Olga stand to her feet.
I can't say that in that moment all my fears had relinquished, but simply that my faith was stronger than my fear and on that day it ultimately won the collision of the two.
Mark Batterson says in his book, "Draw the Circle" - "When we act in faith, we aren’t risking our reputation; we are risking God’s reputation because He’s the one who made the promise in the first place. But if we aren’t willing to risk our reputation, we’ll never establish God’s reputation."
It simply takes faith that is stronger than fear. It's always a collision. Just make sure that your faith wins.
Oh… Olga's story didn't end there - more on that in a future post. :)