Thirty-five is as good an age as any to stop and look back on the road one has travelled. In my mind’s eye, I feel like I’m walking through a map of Narnia - the detailed one pointing out important places like “Lantern Waste”, “Fords of Beruna”, “Cair Paravel” for instance - except that my map highlights important events like “Accepting Jesus”, “Completing College”, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit”, “Travelling to the UK”, “Getting Married”, “Having a baby”, etc. It's interesting to see the path one’s life has taken because this bird’s eye view suddenly brings vague incidents into focus, highlighting the connection between events occurring several years apart. It helps you realise that truly there are no coincidences; God is working out a beautiful plan where each seemingly random situation actually serves a purpose and is coming together; the final picture hasn’t been unveiled yet, but like a jigsaw puzzle that’s half done, you suddenly realise that the pieces actually do fit and are forming something coherent, logical, and marvellous.
Three jigsaw pieces in my life that were suddenly thrown into stark relief during this reflective exercise were the words “Counsellor”, “Encourager”, and “Intercessor”. Let me explain. It was during a family retreat in Khandala, several years ago when I was still in college that I first experienced the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Coming from a stoic Methodist background, I was very nervous about this whole Holy Spirit business. I was afraid of losing control over myself and my thoughts and basically a hundred different fears that any normal teenager has. Thankfully God has infinite patience! The person leading us in this session was Rajkumar Ramchandran (or Raj uncle as I’ve always called him since I was a child) - an evangelist whom I trusted, especially in this delicate issue. So after the session, when he gave the altar call, I gathered my courage and went forward. That evening was a significant turning point in my life. He did pray for me and I did experience the anointing of the Holy Spirit, just not in the way I expected. However, that is an article for another day. What I want to focus on are the words he prophesied over me during that session, that I would be a “Counsellor”, “Encourager”, and “Intercessor”.
Now, being a teenager, I did not grasp the significance of these words. I knew that God had given uncle those words for me, so I filed them away in my mind, generally forgetting about them except for the few times in a year when I’d ponder over them, wonder what they meant, and then forget about them again. You see, I was in my late teens then and wasn’t really a counsellor or an encourager and definitely not an intercessor. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with those words because they didn’t really sound very grand. Perhaps hearing something like - “Be a missionary to a tribe in the jungles” would have been more exciting. Anyway, I forgot about them, and carried on with life. I walked down those paths in my life map, dealing with life as it happened.
Until recently when we did a session at church where we had to fill out a questionnaire to assess our individual spiritual gifts. Approximately 15 years after hearing those words prayed over me, I realised that without really knowing it, God had made me an Encourager (Encouragement was one of the spiritual gifts in the list, and my score based on my answers showed a pronounced propensity towards it). Imagine my surprise! This was a word I hadn’t thought of in relation to myself for most of my adult years. But here I was, seeing the numbers in black and white. Discussing the scores later with my husband, only reinforced the sovereignty of God’s handiwork. My husband agreed that encouragement was something I was good at, it seemed to come naturally to me. (So naturally in fact, that I never realised I was doing it! Talk about walking through life with blinders!)
Excited, surprised, and slightly sceptical all at once, I thought about the other two words to see if my life showed any indications of those gifts. And there they were! Half-forgotten incidents popped up as I wondered about the words “Counsellor” and “Intercessor” - all indicating that I had been employing these gifts in various ways throughout my life. I do not share any of this to boast about my gifts because until a year ago I never even realised these were my unique talents and that I was operating them; but rather I share this with a sense of awe and humility that my Father in heaven had planned this for me long long before I was even born -
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalms 139:16
He planned each gift and orchestrated events and circumstances in my life, where I had to use these gifts. All those years when I had forgotten those words prophesied over me, He had never forgotten; He had been working each detail out, enabling me to fulfil my gifts to bless others. The beauty of it all was that it was usually done so unassumingly that I had no opportunity to boast about them or feel any pride. And even now, when I know, I can only give thanks and glory to God.
So I would like to encourage you today with these words from the psalmist -
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalms 139: 13-15
The God who created you to be uniquely you, knows every part of you. He crafted you and filled you with special gifts and remarkable talents. Without you even realising it, you might be operating them already. But if you’re unsure, seek God and ask Him. He will reveal His plans for you, the gifts He has blessed you with. And I can assure you, when that answer comes, you will see the jigsaw pieces suddenly begin to fit. For with our Lord, there are no coincidences!