I started to write this as a quick Facebook status, and realized I shouldn’t. I was gonna put it there because I knew I was behind on writing here. Several weeks back, I ran into a situation I wasn’t sure how to write about. I managed to write about an apostate church without hesitation, but stumbled the following Sunday, when I found myself in a comfortable church. I still don’t know quite how to explain that, or why it troubled me. And so I haven’t written since. Which is a shame because we’ve actually been to a couple interesting places since, and more importantly, God didn’t tell me it was okay to stop writing, so I’m once again in a state of needing to admit my rebellion and seek forgiveness.
Which brings me to this morning. I will go back and tell the tales of other places we’ve been, hopefully even in this coming week. Though, I don’t know that for sure because God sent me on a different kind of mission with a short term temp job that was gonna last one to five days and is now running into its third week. Not a bad thing, and kinda entertaining, but it doesn’t pay enough to keep me from having to keep doing the freelance stuff in my off hours. I took it on a lark almost, to see if I could manage to stick to a schedule and actually function in the early mornings, and if my stomach would continue to behave. All of which has been far easier than I thought it would be. I’m waiting for God to tell me when I’m done, or where He intends me to go from here. And it’s been a good excuse to not get back to writing. “Hey, I’ve been busy with that whole 40 hours a week thing plus the videos. I don’t have TIME to write for you God…” Sigh.
So, yesterday, after several weeks of feeling more and more frustrated. After several weeks of Corey being sick still. After several weeks of money being tight still, even when I’m working hard. After several weeks of not enough, not enough time, not enough money, not enough faith, not enough love, not being enough, and truly, really, not enough God, I awoke yesterday with a different prayer in my heart.
I slept in Michael’s room Friday night. The dog wasn’t feeling well, and Michael didn’t want to make him ride in the car to his Dad’s house. But, the dog doesn’t like to sleep alone, so I slept in with him. I prayed during the night for the dog, for Corey, for the kids, even a little for myself. But, when my mind was first stirring to wakefulness yesterday morning, this was what it was speaking to God “Please let Corey feel the overwhelming sense of the presence of Holy Spirit. Please let me feel the overwhelming sense of the presence of Holy Spirit. Please let all those we love feel the overwhelming sense of the presence of Holy Spirit.” My mind continued in that vein for quite a while, thinking of people. People I normally pray specific things for, like healing or peace or money or direction. People who I know are in need. My mind came back to Corey and I, and still it spoke, God, you know what else we need, today, I simply want to ask you that we will KNOW Your presence.
As I went to sleep last night, I was praying again. And it was for the same thing. Let us all feel the overwhelming presence of Holy Spirit. My heart began to cry, Lord, nothing else is worth anything without that certain presence. I can have everything I might ever want or need, and it will not be enough unless I know You are here with me. I can lack everything I desperately need, and yet have everything to sustain me, if I know You are here with me. Father, reveal Your Holy Spirit.
For a little more than 24 hours I have been praying that prayer on and off. I have been praying it with tears. I have been praying it with a longing deeper than I have words to describe. I want nothing more than to be in the presence of my God, wherever I happen to be in the moment, and whatever I happen to be doing. And I have to tell you, these last several weeks, I have walked in faith that God is present, yet, I have grown weary because I have so often not felt Him near. I have grown weary because the world is getting louder and angrier and more callous by the day. My heart has grown heavy, because the things of this world have been reaching for it, and I have been distracted. I have not felt the presence of the Lord. I needed to feel the presence of the Lord. And this morning, when I woke, knowing I was heading off to another new church, unsure if I should expect the presence of God or not, I struggled to keep my heart from grumbling. Jordan wasn’t feeling well. Corey was cranky. Michael had the morning shift. Everything was … worldly.
Yet, as I sit here now, feeling compelled to write, I am reminded of God’s … Godness (and yeah, I spelled that right). Corey and I went to the wrong church this morning. Not wrong as in bad, but wrong as in not the one I said we were going to. When I got to that church, the lot was full and the inner doors were closed, which I took to mean service had already started. I usually look beforehand, but didn’t know the name of the church I meant to attend today, only its location. So we drove out of the lot, and up the road a little further, and I didn’t know where we would go. At the last second, I pulled into the second entrance to Refuge Baptist, an old brick church at the top of a green rolling hill surrounded by a cemetery. It was 10 minutes before 11.
We walked in the building, and there were only a handful of folks there, most of them older. And my heart sank a little, though they were friendly enough. I’d been praying for the presence of God, and I have to say, I was a bit discouraged to think I wasn’t even sure I was gonna get the presence of a room full of believers in God. But over the course of a little while, the noise behind us grew, the doors opened and closed, people talked, children babbled, and the space grew full. The choir slowly took their places, the ladies in pews up front the gentlemen against the wall, the pianist on her bench. The adorable two-three year old twin girls sat on the front row of the choir with their mama. Yet, my heart was a bit sad still, ’cause I didn’t know the song and didn’t catch a number on that first one. I was looking for the presence of the Lord, and it seemed I might not even be able to try to invite Him in myself through song.
After the second song though, a strange thing happened. And I get the impression, it was a departure from the normal of that church, and certainly a departure from the intent of the preacher. The preacher got up and asked for prayer requests, but more than that, he talked about the presence of the Lord. He talked about the Godhead. He invited the congregation to listen for God and move as He directed. And suddenly, as he talked, which I stopped really hearing, and as others came to the alter or called out prayers, my eyes filled with tears and my heart started … tingling is the only way I know to describe it. God started whispering in my ears, saying I am here. That church service lasted almost two hours. The whole time I kept catching whispers and sometimes shouts from God of I am here.
I can’t say as the message was one I had not heard before, though it spoke to me anyway (how can the love of Christ not speak to us?). And the preacher said from the start that it wasn’t what he meant to preach. That God yanked his prepared sermon right away, and gave him something else to say this morning. I don’t imagine I was the only person He was talking to today. But it is a little awe inspiring to recognize that He did indeed bring me to that particular pew in that particular church, on this particular day when He was already preparing to change the preachers sermon to speak His presence to my heart. God’s Godness is just enough to leave me a puddle of weeping some days. And I’m thankful today is one of those days. And that this day, His church was also an answer to my prayer.
Be blessed and be a blessing.