For many years I earnestly coveted the gifts of healing and the working of miracles. The book of Acts intrigued me with its many thrilling accounts of healing—especially since those healings accounted for an important facet of the apostles’ ministry. So, I thoroughly studied the book. I read and reread every section of Scripture that dealt with healing
As I witnessed the power of God manifested through the lives of the apostles, I came to desire that same power in my own life. I noted how God used those gifts of miracles and healing to draw thousands of people to the realization that Jesus rose from the dead and was alive and working in their hearts. And so I coveted those gifts. I prayed earnestly for them. I often drove out into the desert to fast and pray, asking the Lord to bestow upon me these potent gifts of His Spirit.
As the years rolled on, I began to understand His wisdom in refusing to grant me my request. It would be extremely difficult to have that kind of power working in your life unless you completely understood and continually practiced the Bible’s message of death to self. When God begins to use a person in an obviously supernatural way, it generates a lot of attention—and observers tend to put such a person on a pedestal. As I looked back on my life, I realized that I could not have handled such notoriety or attention. And so I began to better appreciate the wisdom of God in not answering my prayers.
As decades came and went pastoring at different churches, I matured—something would be very wrong if I hadn’t! And later being called to pastor at a church called Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, I recognized that God had graciously blessed this church beyond measure. And I felt content.
Then one Monday night church service, the Spirit of God moved among us in a very special way. As I stood at the pulpit, I had a very strong consciousness of God’s presence. I began to pray, thanking God for what He was doing and for the marvelous work of His Spirit in our church. I felt overwhelmed with God’s goodness.
That night, close to a hundred young people came forward in response to an invitation to accept Christ as their Savior, and all of them went back to the prayer room. We sensed the beautiful moving of God’s Spirit in our hearts. We all just stood together, worshiping the Lord and rejoicing over the wonderful work of His Spirit.
And then I brought up an old issue.
“Lord,” I prayed silently, “I understand why in my early ministry You didn’t give me the gifts of healings and the working of miracles. That was wise. I realize that I could not have handled it. But Lord, I think that maybe I have matured to the place where You could trust me with those now. We have such a marvelous moving of Your Spirit and the manifestation of Your gifts here in the church! How wonderful it would be if it was complete—if we saw all of the manifestations, including the working of miracles and the gifts of healing. I think, Lord, that perhaps You could trust me now. So I am open and willing.”
Immediately the Lord spoke very clearly to my heart. “I have given to you the more excellent way,” He said. “I have given you love.”
“Thank You, Lord,” I answered. “Subject closed.”
Never again have I asked the Lord for those gifts. Instead, I will continue to walk in the way of love, and I thank God just for the privilege of being able to walk in love.
– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith