Sunday, August 24, 2008

And then there are the times God does show up

I think I probably first noticed it during worship team rehearsal. Something was going on. I know it can be awfully intangible sometimes, but it was there. Maybe it was just because some people had shown up for rehearsal, and they were already worshiping, kneeling, praying. Whatever it was, God was moving.

Although I didn't really become aware of it until the second or third song of the morning celebration. That was when I noticed tears in the faces of some of our people. Not just one or two, but a number of them, across the sanctuary. And, I admit, the worship team seemed filled with a passion that isn't always there. But by the time we got into "What a Friend I've Found," it was obvious. The Spirit was doing something special.

And so we finished and moved into a moment of silence. Which we don't always do. And yet, nobody moved. Nobody broke the moment. Nobody sat down in a huff, wondering what the heck was going on. In some new way, God's Spirit fell on the people of Lakebay this morning, and they were ready to meet him. So we stood in silence, and then joined together softly singing the name of Jesus once again. And I saw smiles of joy; I saw tear of pain. I saw God's people meeting God in the House of the Lord.

All of which was a good sign, because today we hit the Mark 10 passage. The Divorce passage. Which is not an easy passage to preach - anytime, but especially in 21st Century America, where it's all about personal fulfillment and happiness, rather than obedience and discipleship.

And yet, even there God showed up. Nobody seemed to take offense, nobody stormed out in anger, even when I dared call sin "sin." And, afterward, we had more requests for copies of the sermon than we've ever had. A lot of people asking how to get to the sermon online, so they can pass it on to friends and neighbors in need. So God spoke to God's people.

Doug told me later we had some visitors in the service; one filed for divorce this last week, another living in a new marriage following a recent divorce. And our church is certainly full of people who have lived that pain, and who are there now. Yet we walked today that eternal tension of calling out sin for what it is, while offering grace and forgiveness to those so hurt by this calamity.

Since then, I've received a couple comments of appreciation and encouragement. Not that I take any glory in that; it just proves God broke through into people's hearts, and they heard the Lord in spite of my fear and trembling.

These are the days you stand in awe of what God has called you to do, the days you stand on holy ground and recognize this is about something much bigger (and better) than you.

God showed up this morning, and it was sweet. Tough, but sweet.

And for those of you still struggling, may the Lord give you courage and strength to obey, even when every fiber of your being wants to give up. And may his peace guard your soul, wherever you may find yourself tonight.


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