Without suspicion I sauntered over to the front row of the pews, or seats really, and listened to the last few worship songs of the morning sung by good friends whom I respect and admire as men of God. They were in unison, and the freedom of the Spirit was tangible. What made this morning special for me was the simple fact that I had made it to church on time; relatively. I had been stopped outside in the parking lot by a few wonderful friends; some new and some old. My family, long before I knew of them who had been burdened for us during the time of Samuel, had an air about them as if they had been let in on a joke that I hadn’t heard yet. I am always greeted there; any time someone comes into view that I had met recently, they always go out of their way to say hello and ask us how we were doing. Unfortunately, Kelly was driving back from a wedding I wasn’t able to go to, so I was with the kids alone. They kept asking me where the donuts were, but to their chagrin they had run out completely. It was time for church; and I knew I needed to come and be before the Lord in my new but old community of friends.
Pastor Randolph spoke first about the unity and importance of the church coming together; helping those in need. I was a bit nervous, for I had heard that the main pastor was going to mention one of these blogs in his sermon, so I was a bit electrified and hoping to go unnoticed; relatively. It was not the case. I could not hide from their great love for me, and after reading a few verses, called me up and anointed my head with oil in the presence of many witnesses. The elders who were attending the service came up as well and they laid hands on me; praying for my liver and against the rejection that the doctors fear I have. They prayed for my biopsy, and as I fought to hold back the tears, I accepted their great love and was moved as we finished the first part of the morning with announcements and the message.
Barry Nugent gave the message; a mountain of a man who, from years of walking with the Lord, had become soft in the Spirit and even in my short time with him, had become someone I love. His message itself was a great call to community, to spur one another on using our own gifts, and to encourage the saints, not neglect meeting with one another particularly as the day of the Lord is drawing near from Hebrews 10. He warned me that he would be sharing one of my blogs with the congregation, as he had done previously in the other service, and I was humbled to my core. Afterwards, he came up to me and shared an encouraging thought with me; something he believed with conviction. I heard later that those at the beach services had prayed for me as well, for my liver, and that many people had heard about what the Lord was doing in my life. I cried.
I kept on repeating in the worship songs, “Lord, don’t give up on me.” I know my sin is ever before me, and I know the grace of God is richer and bigger and more transcendent than any failure I can commit. I know I will not go through this present trial perfectly, but the truth of it all was further instilled in me to greater measures this morning. I sat beneath the Father of peace in His presence. When I talked with Barry, we both sat back and wondered at the reality of professing the truth of Christ, and how that alone gives us courage to continue forward. There’s something powerful about this profession; something tangible. When we share the testimony of God in our lives, we are strengthened for the day. I can’t explain it, but this wonderful morning gave me strength in measures. I resolved with him then and there, on those comfy seats, to not stop giving glory to God. I can’t explain it. It is something I need to do. It’s armor fashioned upon me that I need for the fight. And so we fight. I don’t fight because I believe this will turn out for the glory of God; I fight because I am expectant that God will be glorified. I am expectant that He will move. I am expectant that He will heal. I believe He can, but I am expectant.
I was further strengthened when I learned that another portion of my family, that up at Life on the Hill, spent time praying for me as well. When my wife shared this with me, I felt sinews of muscle wrap around my weakness of heart for I am indeed weak. It is ever before me. I know it; but in this weakness, I am shown Christ’s overwhelming strength that has been spurred upon me be the saints around and through His gracious Holy Spirit. They remembered to pray for us; they didn’t forget us. I cried again. I am right where God wants me to be; not in perfection, but in weakness. I am not afraid to face this. Yes, Tuesday I go to get a biopsy of my liver, but I am not afraid. No, I am not, because my God and my King has me. The future is dark, but the promises of God to walk with me means I am lit up at every instance; I can navigate because He is with me. The light of Christ is illuminating our paths today. He’s got the future; so really, how dark can it really be? That’s a gift. People are a gift. Everything good, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, is perfect for today. I will rest today, knowing my God is with me and has me. I am expectant in this.