It was the end of a fantastic weekend at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. I was there for the Masters Water Ski and Wakeboard Tournament. Long gone were my days of competing. Now I was in an exhibitor’s booth, sharing the mission of Victorious Living.
God had shown up in amazing ways all weekend, including introducing me to a man from Alabama who had heard me speak when he was “residing” at Club Fed (Coleman Federal Prison). We were standing next to each other at the food truck when he recognized me. It was amazing to hear how God had impacted his life through our outreaches.
I didn’t think God could top that, but He did.
I had just settled back in my chair on the beach to watch the men’s jump event, when one of the top jumpers took a horrendous crash. His screams echoed across Robin Lake.
I immediately started praying. I had never met this jumper, but I knew his crash could end his career. My heart hurt for him. As I prayed, I sensed the Lord saying, “Go lay your hands on him and pray. I will heal his hip and knee.”
Anxiety welled up within me. What if this man was offended and rejected me? What if the medical team wouldn’t let me get close? What if I prayed and nothing happened? What if I looked like a fool?
I stayed in my seat, battling these questions. Moments passed, and the athlete was removed from the water and taken to a restricted area where a medical team could examine him. Still, like the story of Jacob in Genesis 32, I continued to wrestle with God.
But He was winning, and my own hips were hurting!
Finally, I got up and approached the restricted area. “Walk through the gate like you own the place, Kristi,” I told myself. If I walked in with confidence and a look of authority, surely I’d get through. No one questions a woman on a mission.
Wrong. I hadn’t made it three steps before the security guard stopped me. “Ma’am, I need to see your credentials,” she said.
I fumbled with words, finally blurting out, “I’m the event clergy.” What?! Where had that come from? But before I could explain, a policeman walked up. Uh oh!
To my surprise, he said, “She’s who she says she is; let her through so she can go pray for that skier.” I had spoken with this man at other events over the years. He had a huge heart for the Lord and for prison ministry. The Lord had sent him, a person with true authority, to my aid.
I went to where the athlete lay and watched from behind the medical team. I tried hard to muster up the courage to approach him but stayed frozen in place. Then I saw his mom, and I devised a plan.
“Ma’am,” I said. “Could I pray with you for your son?” What mother would turn that down? With tears in her eyes, she agreed and thanked me.
We prayed, and I left. I went back to our ministry booth and sat down. But the Holy Spirit followed me there and spoke to my spirit. “I asked you to lay your hands on that young man and pray for him, not his mother.”
I felt the sting of conviction. I knew I had disobeyed the Lord’s instructions. My fear of rejection had gotten the best of me. But still, I had prayed for him. Why couldn’t God heal him that way?
Before I could even finish that thought, God answered. “Yes, I could heal him, but how will he know it was Me? He didn’t hear your prayer; his mother did. Now go to him, touch him, and I will send My healing power into him. He will know without a doubt that it was Me.”
I watched as the medics approached him with a stretcher. In a few minutes, he would be gone. I felt sick to my stomach. The clock was ticking. If I was going to obey, I had to do it now.
I rose from my chair and walked back toward the injured man, who was now strapped securely on the stretcher and being loaded into the ambulance. “Lord, help me get into that vehicle,” I murmured.
Just then, I realized that one of my former coaches was there, talking to the medic. I approached him and said, “Mike, I need to get on that ambulance and pray with him before they take him to the hospital.”
“Yes, you do,” he agreed. He called the medic over and ex¬plained our situation. She pointed to the back of the ambulance and said, “Get in there, honey!”
As I climbed in, my policeman friend yelled from behind me, “I am touching and agreeing, sister!” He was there, ready to lay hands on the injured man and agree with me in prayer for his healing. I almost chuckled; only God could arrange a scene like this.
The athlete looked a bit confused when I knelt beside him, but he seemed to relax when I asked if I could pray. He told me later that he agreed to let me pray because he needed a sense of peace amid his chaos.
My eyes were open while I prayed, and the sight I witnessed caused my faith to soar. Mike was holding one of the man’s feet, while Mr. Policeman was holding the other. Four medics were kneeling beside the stretcher with their hands on him. Everyone had their heads bowed.
I felt a hand slip into mine. The athlete told me later that I grabbed his hand, but I didn’t. Looking back, I believe God brought our hands together. He had given me specific instructions to lay my hands on this injured man as a touchpoint of His power, but I had forgotten that part of the instruction.
When I finished praying, I told the athlete he would be just fine. Those words were fueled entirely by faith because I hadn’t felt anything special happen during my prayer. Even after I prayed, there was no visible evidence to me that the man had been healed.
I know now, you don’t have to see or feel anything for God to be working. You just need to trust and obey and leave the results to Him.
The following day, Mike told me that the athlete was fine. I went into a dance of celebration that would surely have embarrassed my kids, had they seen me. God had shown up and shown off.
Two weeks later, I spoke with that athlete on the phone. He told me that he had been sure his injuries would mean his skiing career was over. He’d even thought that maybe the accident was a sign that it was time for him to hang up his skis and place his focus elsewhere.
He admitted that he attended church on Christmas and Easter with his wife and mother, but he’d never sought a personal relationship with God. He had occasionally felt his heart being drawn to God, but water-skiing goals and commitments had always taken precedent.
But that day, he said, there was no denying the realness of God. He went on to tell me how that, when our hands joined, “energy” had entered his body and healed his leg. He said it was like God was right there, in his face, saying, “I am here. I am real. Open your heart to Me.”
That day on the phone, I had the opportunity to share more with my new friend about the One who loved him beyond measure. And then I got to lead him through a prayer of salvation as he asked Jesus Christ to be his Savior and Lord.
You know, I was blessed to win eight US Masters Water Ski titles during my ski career. But nothing compared to being a part of God’s plan for this man that God had put in front of me. I can’t wait to see how God uses him to impact the world of water skiing.
Friend, when God tells you to move out of your seat, move! Don’t be afraid or worry about the details; He has everything prepared. All you have to do is get up, move forward, and leave the results to the Lord.
And be ready to be amazed.