Last week I attended WorldVenture's annual Renewal Conference in Denver. Ironically, I went into the conference less burned-out than in past years, and yet came out of it more renewed than ever before. One of the sweetest experiences from that week was getting to know Sherri, one of the missionaries with whom I had up to that point only communicated via email and phone (which is the case for most of the missionaries and staff with whom I work), and having her pray over me. At the beginning of the conference, I was drawn to Sherri by her ready smile, her contagious laugh, and probably her red hair (redheads tend to stick together). As I got to know her, I was touched by her gentleness, sincerity, and the size of her heart. As we bowed our heads to pray together the afternoon of the first day, I felt dwarfed and awkward...this woman has been a missionary in Africa for almost as many years as I've been alive. I know that my faith is real, but hers has been tested and refined by trials way beyond my experience and understanding. I prayed for her first, for the concerns she had voiced, and in the way I knew to pray.
And then she prayed for me. It was one of those experiences where you just know the other person is totally in tune with the Holy Spirit, because as she went before the throne on my behalf, she prayed for things so deeply intertwined in my hopes and fears that I hadn't dared mention them. That alone reduced me to tears, but on top of that I could tell as she prayed that she entertained no doubt about God's goodness and His ability and desire to answer those prayers, and I felt the gentle admonishment of the Lord, "Oh Suz of little faith." I want to have Sherri's depth of faith and confidence in prayer, but if I'm honest I am scared of and not at all eager to embrace the suffering, tests and trials that would produce it.