Wineskins Archive

February 12, 2014

A Healing Community (Sep-Oct 2001)

Filed under: — @ 2:05 pm and
Shelli Presley tells how healing flows when we confess sins in a covenant community

by Shelli Presley
September – October, 2001

Through my work as a Christian therapist, I am convinced that God’s plan of reaching the world and bringing healing happens best in community, as the body of Christ learns to demonstrate God’s love. Christ’s church has been commissioned and empowered by God to be his hands and feet, a vessel through which Jesus’ healing love and power meet people’s greatest needs.

Time spent in intimate community where confession and prayer are present has proven to be a tremendous source of healing in my own life as well as the lives of the women with whom I meet.

I am learning by God’s grace what a blessing it is to pray consistently with my friends, to experience and see healing that comes as we confess honestly and openly our struggles with sin. In our prayer time, we are specific and are committed to pray on behalf of each other concerning problem areas of our lives. We remind each other that we will see God’s transforming power change us. We call each other to Jesus, to the truth of his Word, and to respond to him in trusting obedience by changing and doing the things he asks.

I’ve been strengthened when our women’s group knows my imperfections, my specific weaknesses, and they choose to love me and encourage me right where I am. Emotional and spiritual healing has occurred in our group as our imperfections are met with gentle love and exhortation. Our women’s group has seen tangible evidence of healed and strengthened marriages, freedom in finances, and transformation from human and ungodly character traits. Having been transformed, our hearts flow with love and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and we continue to pray specifically for each other in these areas.

Few areas of my life have been left unchanged as we have confessed, prayed and encouraged each other in making the hard and specific changes needed to bring healing. It has been sweet to actually experience emotional and spiritual healing as the Spirit of God has moved among and through community to empower transformation and godly living. I can now see that true healing is not just being loved in my imperfection but also includes being supported in prayer and encouraged as God changes me and leads me into the freedom and blessing of obedience to him.

Through my counseling experience, I am continually amazed by the cry I hear from clients, both Christians and non-Christians. They long to know they are valued for who they are and loved right where they are. They search in various arenas for relationships where it is safe to be honest, real, and vulnerable, revealing both their best and worst yet still receiving love.

My heart breaks to see the many destructive ways and the inappropriate places where people search for this kind of belonging. What grieves my heart even more is to hear the desperate cry from many Christians searching for this type of love and depth of relationship in churches, yet still coming up empty. From the most broken and wounded to those perceived to be the strongest, come heartfelt longings to be honest and real, to be known and to know, to be loved and to love intimately.

I have had the opportunity to witness first hand the devastation stemming from a lack of intimate support through community as well as the wonderful joy that comes when the broken find love and support in a Christian community. Many who enter my office come as a result of some sort of crisis: alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, sexual abuse. While there are different struggles specific to each crisis listed, one thing holds true in each case: those impacted by these issues are overwhelmed, burdened and weary from the load they carry. Often, if there is not a community of people committed to supporting them, they become buried under the immensity and diversity of their burdens, consumed by thoughts of hopelessness, unable to see even the tiniest glimmer of hope. The harder they try alone, the more discouraged they get in their “failures.” More often than I want, I see many crumble under the load and end up in even greater sin and despair. However, I have seen that for those who connect with a supportive and loving Christian community, the outcome is far different. I have witnessed those bound in alcoholism, who fought it on their own for years, experience the power of God personally. As they asked for prayers, their community of faith came and physically surrounded them, laid their hands on them (as many as could reach) and cried out to God on their behalf. Community, expressing itself in this simple yet powerful way, marked the beginning of hope for these people. Similarly, many single parents I have known have been overwhelmed with grief and challenges, and they have found comfort as the body of Christ has been the hands and feet (literally) of Jesus to help ease a few of the burdens. Lawns were mowed, babysitters provided, money pooled from friends to pay for professional help for the children, and single-parent classes were offered.

Many Christian brothers and sisters spent numerous hours in prayer during hard and lonely times for these single parents, and still others provided professional advice and services. All of these provided desperately needed encouragement and hope. Love was demonstrated in practical ways right at the time when the single parents needed it. For these people, healing came both emotionally and in physical ways as the different burdens of these single parents were literally lifted and distributed to be carried by a variety of different members within the body of Christ. As the body surrounded these people, they were showered with the tangible reality that God knows and cares about their every need. The road to healing for these, while still difficult, was beautiful as God revealed his provision and faithfulness at every turn. Rather than being destroyed, they were actually encouraged in their faith as they walked through this difficult time. Jesus is our true source of healing, but his healing love becomes tangible in Christian community. Christ’s body is able to answer God’s call and participate in the mission of his heart: to reconcile all people to himself where there is healing, victory, and life to the fullest.New Wineskins

presley photoShelli Presley

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