Father God, I come for Your anointing, to be freshly renewed in Your image, filled with Your creativity and wisdom. Open my mind to receive Your inspiration, and open my heart to increase my love for You, myself and others. Bind my feet to the path You have chosen for me.
Lord Jesus, I desire my identity to be grounded in Yours. As I wait on You, help me to understand Your mind and heart, as they are revealed in Holy Scripture. May I live in the power of Your death and resurrection?
Holy Spirit, I depend on Your power to shatter any barriers that would make me ineffective at living and sharing God’s Kingdom gospel. When I stumble, pick me up. Fill me with the expectancy to see You at work along the journey.
Send me, Lord, in Jesus’ name! Amen
Today Abba Father, I make this prayer my own, again. Even though it is borrowed from a long ago church bulletin, it perfectly expresses the cry of my heart in this season.
It’s been a long time since we began seeking God for a place to put our talents and abilities to work for His kingdom. For more than two years we sent applications to churches across the length and breadth of the USA. Eventually we came to the conclusion that it was not in God’s plan to give us our own congregation in this season.
Okay… Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “how well He understands us and knows what is best for us at all times.” (Ephesians 1:8 The Living Bible) So, instead of asking to stand in front of a flock and teach the Word, we’ll look for opportunities to stand behind the shepherd of a Bible believing church and hold up his arms.
We started that process in 2006 by going to the leadership of the local mega-church where we had been pew-warming since D’s retirement. We made overtures to those in executive positions, looking for some opportunity to be of service. Nothing! The last straw? We asked them, “Can we help on the prayer team?”
No response! No one even bothered to call to say, “No sorry, we have all the prayer support we need.” What’s that about?
There’s no point in recounting all the various rejections we felt or the reasons behind them. The point is, warming some anonymous pew was simply no longer a situation we felt we could tolerate. The truly sad part is, when we moved on, another willing worker took over our job as pew-warmer and tithe payer, and no one even realized the faces had changed.
We began searching for a new church fellowship in our local community. I’ll resist the temptation to list the number of churches we visited twice [first time / last time] where the Holy Spirit has said “NO, not here.”
So…anyway, about the middle of January in 2009 I “googled” a simple question: “Where are we supposed to be going to church in ______ [this town]?” The first result was First Methodist. We went there the 15th of February and the 22nd of February 2009. After much prayer, we determined, because of our deep belief in the “spirit-filled” life, First Methodist was not our answer. The second result of my search was New Hope Church, and on Sunday January 31st, 2010 we tried it out. Their Pastor was on sabbatical for a month! We were not uncomfortable, the people were warm and welcoming. We decided we would return for a second Sunday.
Early on Sunday February 7th one of our God-children moved to heaven to be with the Lord. Without warning we were caught up in the whole family thing required to care for the earth-suit a person leaves behind when he changes his address to heaven. The memorial was Saturday the 13th!
On Sunday we went back to New Hope Church. It was the Pastor’s first Sunday back in the pulpit after his sabbatical. The prayer above was on the back page of the bulletin. His message was about new commitment, new beginnings and giving your entire attention to what God is doing now. He also told his congregation he was no longer able to do it all by himself, and quoted the sixth chapter of Acts.
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”Acts 6:2-4
It sounded as though he was looking for Godly workers to stand behind him and hold up his arms. Maybe, at last, God had directed us to a place where we could be workers without being a threat. We filled out a “Connection Card” and placed the whole thing in our Father’s hands.
There were, surprisingly, no expectations on my part. God had been disciplining me where my planning disorder was concerned. It is possible this prayer and the quote I wrote beside it are all He was giving us on that Sunday morning .
“It is not so much doing for God as paying attention to what God is doing.”
It took until the middle of August to find out what God was doing; at least in so far as New Hope Church was concerned. I’ve forgiven and forgotten almost all of the details of those very stressful months during which I tried my best to be doing for God. In the end, the Pastor moved on to his higher calling – that of an Anglican Priest; the congregation splintered into several small unrelated groups and we were once again left searching.
There have been several chapters added in the in between. Here we are nearly half way through 2012 and we are still searching. The one thing I must tell you is hindsight is 20/20. We were not ready to pay attention to what God was doing. Instead we were interested in doing something / anything, for God.
Today I understand:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:8-10
Still…day by day I pray, “Send me, Lord, in Jesus’ name! Send me. Amen “