“God been preparing you and the one He has for you for one another like Isaac and Rebekah. Don’t accept the counterfeit. He will be a man with an apostolic anointing, but don’t put the word ‘apostolic’ in a box. You will not marry this year, but begin to look for it next year. And you will not have to fear rejection anymore.” ~Stranger in hotel, North Carolina, October, 2007
“GOD speaks my love language.”
The thought came crashing through my mind while four sets of arms reached to fold me in an embrace. Soul-wrenching sobs had swollen my eyes shut to the degree that I could barely see the man of God humbly sitting before me, much less know which friends were holding me; but I felt their love as the Lord communicated His healing to deep places in my heart through their touch.
The two years leading up to that night had been marked with hills of faith-stands and deep pockets of depression. The “God, where are You?” question gave way to a, “God, You don’t have to prove Yourself to me” statement that I believed at least occasionally. When I was honest with myself, however, I realized that a great source of pain was in the fact that I would sometimes go for weeks without any physical contact with another human.
In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman explores the beautiful variety that God placed in individuals and the way we communicate. Some of us place more value on tokens of appreciation, while others look for kind and thoughtful actions. In me, God placed a deep-seated desire to express affection through hugs, pats on the back, a hand on the shoulder, etc.
Jesus demonstrated His understanding of the need for physical touch when He touched the lepers that He healed. To men and women who had lived their lives with a debilitating and ostracizing disease, that first touch was something they would always remember. However, knowing His compassion to others when He was physically on earth was a cold comfort when I returned to a silent apartment at night. I prayed so often, “God, I know You’re there, but I just can’t feel You.” I never heard a voice speaking back to me; I simply had to remind myself that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that He heard me, even when it felt like He did not.
The night that the Lord set me free had been atypical in so many ways. Some dear friends and I were at a December conference in Missouri. We had been in a powerful service that night, and the Lord had moved in a beautiful way both in us and through us.
Midnight found our group in our customary location—munching on ham, cheese, or peanut butter sandwiches on the second floor lobby of our hotel, right in front of the elevators. We were sharing our experiences from the evening when the doors to the elevators opened and a group of Korean Christians also there for the conference walked out.
The director of our group noticed how they eyed our band of sandwich-eaters with wide grins, and smiled her typical, golden smile. “Won’t you have a sandwich? We have plenty.”
All but one politely declined her offer; he asked if he could come back in just a few minutes, and she assured him we would still be there. The group rounded the corner to disperse into their respective hotel rooms, and we continued discussing the beauty of the Lord and His goodness to us at the conference.
Mr. Lee returned just around the time that I had forgotten he had ever walked by us in the first place. He sat on one of the large ottomans where we had set up camp and asked us what we thought of the conference so far. Conversation flowed as easily as if we had been dear friends for decades, and a chummy camaraderie fell among us.
Before much time had elapsed, Mr. Lee had steered the conversation toward his passion—the nation of Israel. He began speaking with authority on the Jewish people and God’s desire for their nation, and we soon exchanged our physical food for the privilege to crowd around and listen with rapt attention to the words the Lord was speaking to us through him.
Midnight passed into early morning but we gave no thought to bed, convinced that the Lord had orchestrated a divine appointment for us that evening. When Mr. Lee began to show signs that he was about to excuse himself, our director asked him to pray over us as a group. When he concluded praying, a young woman with us knelt before him and asked that he pray over her individually, and in that instant, the entire tone of the evening changed. The heavy presence of the Holy Spirit descended, and we began to physically react to Him manifesting in our midst. In me, this surfaced as an uncontrollable laughter.
I have never laughed the way I laughed that night. In truth, I had always somewhat questioned those who claimed to manifest the Holy Spirit through laughter, deciding privately (I must confess) that it was simply silliness of the flesh coming out. The sobriety of 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 appealed to me more than the thought of being perceived drunk on the Spirit as the disciples were in Acts 2:25. However, I began to shake with laughter in a manner that I knew was not normal for me, and began realizing that God was beginning to target years of grief with the restoration of His joy.
After at least ten minutes of violent laughter, I was able to regain control of my emotions and sit in the comfortable haze of His presence. I was unsure at that moment of what the Holy Spirit had done in my life, but I knew that I would later mark the evening as the night that everything changed for me.
Then another young woman in our group suggested that Mr. Lee pray over me.
When I walked to kneel before the dear brother in the Lord, I had no expectation to receive anything that could compete with what God had already worked in me. I knew that He had already encountered my heart, and did not believe that Mr. Lee could communicate anything to me that would compare. Thankfully, the Lord ignored my pride and spoke to me through His servant anyway.
The first words from Mr. Lee’s mouth turned the laughter from earlier that night into tears that shook me with just as much intensity.
“The Lord says to you, daughter, you are accepted.”
The room vanished from my awareness as this man who had heard me speak no more than four sentences in the hour since he’d met me began to minister God’s healing to me. In a calm, quiet voice, he began breaking off of me the bondage to fear of man and my striving for acceptance and love. In his prayer, he began countering the sting of countless rejections with the passionate love of God for me. He repented to me on behalf of the men who had abused me, broke off the yoke of others’ expectations and accusations, and blessed me to be free of word curses that others had spoken over me. The entire time he prayed, I heaved with sobs as if I was vomiting something.
When he had finished praying over me and proclaiming the word of the Lord to me, I straightened from the fetal position in which I had curled on the floor and began to back away so that someone else could step forward for him to pray over them. As I was leaning away, Mr. Lee asked, “Could we—could we just hug her for a minute?”
In that moment, I heard the Lord reference every, “God, I can’t feel You!” prayer I had prayed and speak very clearly: I heard you. The God who placed in me the need to be touched honored the faith I had placed in Him when there was no one else around to hug me by surrounding me with love that night in the manner my heart most understood it.
After my friends released me from the hug, I moved back to allow someone else the opportunity to receive from the Lord through Mr. Lee. I leaned back—exhausted—and immediately a shoulder was there to catch me. Although I didn’t realize who it was at first, I finally became aware that I was leaning against JD. In that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart: This is where he’s always been, Chrystal. Loving you. Supporting you. Waiting to catch you when you needed someone.
That was the moment things changed for me. God supernaturally set me free to love again and then put love in my heart for this man who had offered me solid, steady friendship for months. We had a conversation three nights later about the change that had come, but did not officially declare our relationship until we could receive my father’s blessing.
Those first few months of quiet relationship remain precious to me. We were able to get to know one another without worrying about others’ opinions. Our parents knew the deepening that had come in our friendship, but we all also knew that my dad would have the final say on whether or not we could continue to pursue a relationship. He remains an excellent judge of character, and has never been wrong about the men who have come into my life. The fact that he gave an unqualified blessing on our desire to date in March, 2010 brought great peace to my heart–a peace that has marked our relationship. I see so much of him in JD.
That’s pretty much the end of “our story” (though I didn’t tell about the beautiful Christmas present he made for me last year–it involved sneaking all of my pictures off of my computer and putting together a poster-sized collage), with one notable exception: the story of him asking me to marry him last week will come soon =)