It’s been a crazy summer, and God is pressing us on toward a new adventure. There are so many bits and pieces of how this began and a few trials and epiphanies along the way that it’s hard to know where to start. If feels like I could write a book… Well, given the title that struck me for this particular blog series, I just might do that. But not tonight. To begin I suppose I will once again start, as the God Talk note series always seem to start, with a shout of joy for what God is doing in our lives at the moment.
I’m sure over time God will lead me to share some of the struggles that have been going on over the last year, and some of the road that brought us to today. But for now, I think we’ll start with sharing a little about the amazing adventure God has set me, Corey and Jordan on. Today was our first day of a year-long sojourn to visit the churches, all of the churches. I sang for my last Sunday at our beloved home church, Ball Ground UMC, three Sundays ago before we all headed out to meet up in Maine after our various summer travels. This was our first Sunday back, and with a deep breath, a lot of prayer, and no little trepidation we set out for a little church up the road called Jasper Church of God.
I’ve never been to a Church of God, which is apparently a branch of Pentecostal church. We walked in the door (after walking around the building toward what we thought was the front and being motioned back) and were greeted enthusiastically by Linda and then Michael. The pastor came to greet us as well before settling back into the mental preparation I am so used to seeing in pastors before they get up to speak for God. Michael sat and chatted with us, particularly engaging Jordan, until he rushed away to help one of the congregants to her seat as others filed in (we were a little early).
It was quite a lovely service with a lot of singing, mostly songs I didn’t know too well, but that were pretty easy to follow once we got going. It wasn’t loud and rowdy, per se, but there were murmurs of agreement from behind me during the prayers. It didn’t feel even a little out of place to stand with my back straight, head back and hands upraised during the prayers. Pastor J.L. Willoughby was both passionate and compassionate in his proclamation of the Word of God. His wife Linda was enthusiastic on the piano and leading the songs. And at the end, he offered an invitation to the altar to pray, which I took advantage of. I knelt there, and my heart delighted when he came to ask if he could pray with me.
He did something I’m not used to, perhaps because the pastors that have presided over most of the altars I have found myself in front of in recent years know me. They know I’m a baptized, born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Willoughby gently and firmly asked if I was a believer and knew I was saved, which I joyfully responded yes. At which point he began to pray with authority and without hesitation for the direction I had requested prayer for, in agreement, and laying his hand upon my head. When he had finished and moved to the lady standing behind me, I stayed a moment and continued praying, in power, for the people there in that church, that God would continue to move among them. I prayed in words I knew, and in words I didn’t which has been happening now and then, and I’m still not sure of it.
It was a small congregation there in that lovely little Church of God. It was a welcoming congregation. It was a congregation that invited us in with a smile, preached about the love and power of God, in the person of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It was a congregation that invited us to join them as they gathered at a restaurant for lunch, which I had to decline, but also invited us to worship with them as they ministered at the nursing home here that afternoon. Corey and I did join them for that, and that service was God filled and lovely as well.
I’m still working out all the details of this strange little mission God has sent my family and me on for the next year. I know we’re not looking for a new church home. We’ve literally been sent to visit God’s other children, and He has a purpose. I want to say I don’t know what that purpose is yet, or that I’m still unsure, but my beautiful sister Cassandra pointed out when we were talking that I do actually know what it’s for. I’m just not totally sure what it means to listen for what’s missing. But, I do know it’s going to be a beautiful adventure, and God was gracious enough to start us out in an easy place, filled with His presence and His people, and they didn’t even say anything when they must’ve noticed my shoes were off when I went to kneel at the altar. Which is good, ’cause God is still telling me to take ’em off when I’m on holy ground.
Tomorrow a little more on the big picture, because I gotta tell you the parts I see and understand are going to be so cool to watch God unfold over the next months and years, and I can’t wait to share. In the meantime, bed so I don’t blow the new habits He’s trying to help me build. Is God doing something cool in your life today? Did He bring you to His house this week with His children? Tell us about it so that everyone can be blessed by the way He moves. ‘Til next time, be blessed and be a blessing.