Stepping into the sanctuary that night felt like coming home to a time from my college days… long ago years when I first encountered contemporary songs of praise swelling around me, on-fire speakers sharing deeply about how God longs for and moves in our prayers, the Holy Spirit whispering hope and strength and wisdom to our hearts. And a feeling of oneness with those around me.
Immediately, I was struck by the heart of the church pastor. How deeply he entered into prayer, lifted up people from his congregation by name and situation as one who knows and cares for them personally…like our Shepherd does…making a fairly large congregation feel like a more intimate one. How he wasn’t leaving this event to a handful of church prayer warriors, but was so obviously hands-on invested in its purpose.
Thank you for bringing me here tonight, Lord, I breathed…For anointing this man with understanding of what it means to stand in the gap for others…and leading him to sponsor this week’s events…
For the reason I’d come this night was a conference on prayer. I’d recently had an article on intercessory prayer published in an inspirational magazine (Sing God’s Heart Into Someone’s Life), then the editor contacted me to let me know they were not only having the conference in my state – but at a church within 15 minutes of my home. And although I could only manage one day off work to join workshops – specifically one regarding writing they sought from contributing authors – I eagerly looked forward to attending the evening prayer and praise services open to all. I’d enjoyed participating in my local church for the most part, but in the 20 years or so that I’d lived here, I’d never found one so centered on believing prayer. Or one with more than a handful of people who hungered to learn more about it. Now I was ready for a transition and over the next few nights I knew…I wanted to continue coming to this place…to take in more Word-centered teaching from this pastor…to be part of this praying people.
Since that weekend, I’ve often found myself thanking the Lord for the letter He is writing on so many hearts… through this man.
For how he is a pastor who is always there as one of many intercessors who are coming together to pray for our nation, for a missing and confused young woman, for the prodigals who need to see God’s embrace…
And for how he encourages and inspires us to look for Divine Appointments, listen for the Holy Spirit whispering into our own lives. As he did on a recent air flight… when a casually struck conversation with a man in the next seat transformed into an extraordinary God-given moment of being in that place — for just such a time as this.
As he related this moment to us early this summer – a tinge of awe in his voice about the wonder of God’s putting him in the right place at the right time – I leaned in to listen, sensing the Holy Spirit all over it…hearing God speak into my own life about some divine appointments He’d been sending my way too. It was an amazing story of how he’d suddenly recognized the young businessman beside him as an important dignitary. How that man had eagerly sought his opinions and thoughts about turning around our state and national economy and proceeded to note everything he said on his laptop, thinking he was talking to an average citizen, but not knowing he was also a minister. And how he’d be taking back such suggestions to critical decision-making meetings in the seat of our nation. Words spoken and shared from a pastor’s heart turned – and tuned – to the Holy Spirit…asking, Lord, give me YOUR thoughts to share…
Once again, I left church thanking God for this man who lives his strong faith before us... for one whose testimony of God’s whisper in his own heart burned in our hearts too…never imagining the bombshell announcement to come just one week later.
A call to pastoring a church in another state, he told us then, asking for prayer about his decision to be made in just two short weeks. Then…his conclusion. That despite personal anguish over leaving his beloved home, this state, this church, he felt God was asking this of him. And surrender to what he believes God is leading.
I know I’m not alone in wondering…are you really leading this Lord? The sense that there is more than we know behind the scenes. And that there’s so much more I believe God could have done through him here.
Yet, I know – times of blessing will come through his surrendered heart, either way. For to every “living letter” in our lives, there is a season. With new ones on the way…for him, for us, for those he leaves to serve.
Thank you Lord, for Pastor Dave.
For the words you have written through his ministry as a living letter amongst us… and those you are writing in him still…
Bless his heart of surrender as you blessed Jabez…
Expanded territories in you.
Your hand always on him and his, keeping them from harm.
The glory of your anointing presence poured out as holy oil upon him…all along the way.