My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“Silas, do you think she’ll be back tomorrow?” I said.
“Please Lord, make it stop,” was his reply.
We had arrived in Philippi two days earlier. As we made our way down to the river, to join a prayer meeting, a young woman—a girl really—met up with us. At first it seemed like the Lord was giving us great favor, because she started calling out that we were men of God who came to proclaim the way of salvation. She actually gathered us quite a crowd on that first day. Her declarations made me stand up just a bit straighter. I was feeling pretty good about this new city—this new harvest we were about to work. It seemed ripe for the gospel.
But as the day wore on, she never stopped her proclamations. Over and over she called out:
“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”
The distraction grew until I couldn’t keep my mind on my message. As I preached, or tried to preach, at the riverside, she stood at the top of the path and called out. It rattled me. I couldn’t even get my testimony out. Finally I called for a time of silent prayer, and just sat down.
She was back the next day too. All day she followed us around. All day she called out. By the end of the second day these cries disheartened us.
I spent the night asking the Lord what to do about this woman. Her words pierced like a thorn in my side. She stifled ministry. She drove seekers away. She got under my skin. I asked the Lord to send her way, to keep her from returning. This vexation had to stop, or we would just have to move on.
I felt foolish even asking the Lord about this. After all, look how far I’ve come. I’ve seen the Lord do so much. We’ve seen hundreds, thousands perhaps, enter the kingdom. I can’t count those we’ve seen healed from all manner of disease and malady. Besides the visible ministry, there’s all the amazing revelation. I’ve seen things in the heavenlies that I’m not even permitted to share.
It vexed me. I prayed all night. How could something so simple, just a girl, have such a devastating effect on ministry, and on my own peace.
As dawn broke, I heard the voice of Jesus.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
I had no idea I was so weak—so vulnerable—to satan’s ploys. After all I’ve seen and done in the Spirit of Christ, this messenger of satan was battering me. My weakness became so plain to me, and I saw how everything I had—everything I was—came by His wonderful grace.
That night I slept little, but I rose refreshed. I knew today held great promise. We would see the grace of Jesus in action today.
Breakfast was light and our plan was to head back to the river midmorning. I was planning on preaching until midday, and then Silas would baptize those the Lord called.
As we left the home of Lydia, where we were lodging while in Philippi, we met the young girl again. At first my heart sank. I really did not want another day of distraction.
Before I could say a word to her, she began her proclamations again.
"These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."
As she said the words “Most High God,” it all clicked into place. I saw it. Satan exploited my weakness. He pecked away at my patience. But, by the grace of God, now I could see his—satan’s—fingerprints all over this girl.
Thank God for His abundant grace. The grace that saved me. The grace that called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light. His all-sufficient grace rose up inside of me, and I saw it.
She started to speak,
I put my finger to her lips to stop her. With the full authority of the Holy Spirit I said,
“I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”
The spirit started to speak again,
“These men are…”
“Come out!” I nearly shouted.
At that I could see her change. There was a brief shaking, she rose up to her full height, on the tips of her toes, as though she was going to float away. Then she fell into the dust.
Her collapse alarmed me at first. I wondered if she was dead. But in a moment she was crying.
“Thank you,” she said through her tears.
We watched as her new-found freedom dawned. The spirit that ruled her life vacated. Everything she knew was about to change. The first change was to introduce her to a new Master, Jesus, the Messiah. No longer would she be under the mastery of the demonic. From that moment she joined the service of the King of kings.
What strikes me as I look back at this encounter with Jesus is how easily satan disrupted my ministry. The moment I began to move on my own, instead of allowing the Spirit to lead, I was undone. God’s grace truly is the answer to every one of life’s needs. The only hope for this dark world is Christ in me—Christ in us—we who call upon His name. When I feel strong in my abilities or in my accomplishments, my weakness is exposed. When I see my weakness, He comes in like a flood and demonstrates His strength.
What a glorious salvation.
To read the original story, see Acts 16:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 12 1-10
I hope you have enjoyed this story. It's part of my upcoming book, Encounters With the Holy Spirit.
To read more first person encounters check out my new book Encounters With Jesus. It's a collection of forty stories from the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Available now in paperback or kindle editions or for your nook.
See you again soon,