By Tim Wilkins
I attended an event geared toward ministering to those with unwanted same-sex attractions.
As is my custom at an event like this, I enter the cafeteria, and pull three or more tables together surrounding them with chairs so that a group of individuals, many who have traveled alone, can join me and others for fellowship. On a couple of occasions, I quickly hand wrote a note and placed it on the table before I got my food. The note read, “Not only are these tables under conviction, they are saved.” I drew a big smiley face on the sheet and said, “You’re welcome to join me, Tim Wilkins, for a meal and laughter.” Many folks sat down. A beautiful lady sat down at one end of the table and, as is my custom, I saw her name tag and called her by name and politely asked her last name. With a frown on her face she said, “I don’t give out my last name.” I immediately recognized that I needed to be super sensitive with this lady who was hurting. We chatted briefly, though I realized that any possibility of a deeper conversation at this point would be futile.
As God would have it, I saw her in the vast auditorium sitting by herself the following day, and I squatted down and asked that she forgive me for asking her last name, which could be interpreted as prying. She listened almost passively, her face showing very little emotion or interest. I said, “The reason I asked your name is because I’m reminded of when Jesus met the man from Gadara. This man, as you may remember, lived among the tombs, cut himself with stones, broke out of chains, and worn no clothes.” When Jesus met the man, He did not ask him, ‘Do we need me to find you a real estate agent?’ Jesus did not ask, ‘Where is the nearest clothes closet?’ Nor did Jesus ask, ‘Who in the area can manufacture reinforced chains?’ No, Jesus cut through all of those questions and asked the most personal question that can be asked of a person and that is, ‘What is your name?’”
When I said that to this lovely lady, she began to take interest and we became acquainted; she began to talk and I listened. Since I was a member of the prayer team at the conference, she, at the close of one of the general sessions, came down to ask for prayer. I prayed briefly with her and then as I was giving her a hug, I patted her lightly on the back. Her response was immediate and direct - she whispered “Please don’t pat me on the back. It reminds me of being beaten by my former boy friends.” The abuse that she had received in past relationships was a component in her gravitating towards women for meeting emotional needs.
At the end of the last general session, I had learned much about her. She came forward for prayer again; we sat on the first row of seats while I held her hand and put my arm around her. After a moment, she laid her head on my shoulder –saying nothing. We sat in silence. After a few minutes she simply said, “You are Jesus with arms.”
Earlier in the week I had shown her the pictures of Lisa and our three girls. Again, the lady broke the silence by saying , “Tim, you need to lavish love on those three girls. Every daughter needs to know that their daddy loves them.”
Let me share another encounter. One day as I entered the cafeteria, I noticed a man seated by himself and I asked to join him. He obliged. A moment later his wife came to the table and after a brief introduction, I discovered they knew me; they have received our newsletter for years. A divine appointment.
Conversation is priceless! We talked and fellowshipped through the week - and I listened intently to the husband share his emotional pain and unwanted same-sex attractions. The three of us became friends.
At the close of another general session, this fine husband came forward and sought me out specifically for prayer. He expressed genuine appreciation for the camaraderie and then, in a conspicuously transparent fashion said, “I often wake up everyday and I wish I wasn’t.”
To that pained statement I replied simply, “I’m glad you are.”
To whom can you be Jesus’ arms today? And, how recently have you told someone “I’m glad you are”?