The process of captioning is kind of strange. You have to listen to the material twice, at the very least, to complete the projects. The first time it’s like transcription 30 to 60 characters at a time. The second is listening and reading, matching the words on the screen to the sound in your ears. It’s a good way to absorb material actually, and I’ll have to be careful going forward about making sure I don’t pick any project that have things in them I don’t shouldn’t absorb. But, for the ones that are from churches, it is a double blessing. It gives an opportunity for God to talk to me at His choosing and to reinforce what I am hearing from Him. And a couple things came to the surface of my thoughts this week. The first is really more a general, rhetorical question. The others are based in the actual messages of those videos.
The message of the first video was a sermon on letting the Glory do it. The church was a non-denom but I’m pretty sure it grew out of a Pentacostal tradition. There was a part of me that wanted to get the giggles when toward the end of the sermon I had to start typing the little musical notes symbol for lyrics when the pastor started singing his sermon. And yet, there is another part of me that could not quite laugh at such a thing. What a joyful noise those folks were making. What a beautiful thing that the Spirit was flowing for him so strongly that he could not help but start to sing his words. And what a beautiful message.
I’m pretty sure that when they use the word the “anointing” they mean something a little different than what I understand that word to mean. Even as parts of the same body, I have learned we all have our own shorthand for certain concepts, and it’s different from tradition to tradition. But, the idea that being anointed isn’t enough, that we have to step out of the way and let God’s Glory do the work, that’s an idea that resonated so deeply with me. It filled my heart with a sense of truth that made me just smile. With all that is going on in the world, and all that is coming, there is a long road ahead for those of us who call Christ Lord. It is a road that we cannot hope to walk in our own power. It is a road that requires us to have be wrapped in the glory of the Lord. It requires His glorious, beautiful, magnificent power to make us able to stand and do the things He has and will call us each to do. It was a beautiful reminder that His glory is sufficient to the task, even when we are not.
The other was a class about struggles. I’m pretty sure that one was based in a Pentecostal type church as well, though I don’t know for sure. The woman who was leading the gathering was excited about God, excited to share the message He had given her. She bounced between solid readings of Scripture and solid connections of how those Scripture informed our lives today. She brought a message of hope. But it was different than most message of hope I am used to these days. Because the message was grounded in tragedy. It was grounded in her husband’s near death experience of long term illness and the lessons God had given her in that time. And it was not the typical, God brought me through it. It was that in the midst of the struggle, God has work for us to do. In the midst of the battle, we are called to stand on the promises of God. That the process is part of getting to the promise.
She made several awesome illustrations, driving home the point that if we expect the promises of God, and we should, then we can’t bail out in the process He uses to fulfill them. That we have to stay focused on His Word. That we need to know our circumstances and know our goals, but our focus needs to be on His Word that promises that the promises of God are all yes, that His promises never fail. That He never guaranteed a life of ease and comfort, so we shouldn’t get focused on the things He never promises. But that we should hold tight to the promises He did make. To be with us. To make us able. To answer when we ask. To give when we ask. To be our God. That in the end, we win. The women in that audience cheered and shouted Amen (they were a little quieter than the congregation in the other). And my heart sang, even as I tried not to tear up at the truths that were hitting me.
The last revelation wasn’t really, because I am still not entirely sure of the answer, though I have a thought or two. I have to wonder why it is that God chose to send me to serve His Methodists instead of His Pentecostal children. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Methodist brothers and sisters. I am delighted to serve God with them. I know myself well enough too to know that a place where shouted Amens and random shouts of “Come on” and “Preach it” might have been a major distraction in a worship service for me once upon a time. Yet, there is a part of me that wonders what it would be like to stand before my brothers and sisters when God speaks to me and just say “God was talking to me.” Preferably without having eyes go a little too wide and faces turn three shades of white at whatever comes out of my mouth next. I wonder what it would be like to shout the absolute joy of Him when the Spirit moves without causing consternation among the flock.
I wonder what would happen if each of us, in our own sphere, began to call on the promises of God and let the Glory do it. If we kept our focus firmly on the promises and stood in the process with joy and thanksgiving, no matter how scary and painful it felt in the moment. If we just let go, got out of the way, and let Him move us. I imagine it would be an almighty, glorious light that He would begin to shine.
Pray always and glorify the Lord.