A Ridiculously Emotional Start
God has been dealing with me on some very personal and important issues.
Some of this began yesterday. Pastor Mike Rogers asked anyone who was lost to signify that with a raised hand. One person did so, but did not publicly come forward. At the end of the service, I remarked that if that person, or anyone else who needed to know the Lord but had not raised their hand, would simply come to me at any time during the week and say, “It was me,” I would be happy to talk with them and introduce them to the Lord.
As the day went on, I became burdened, more intensely than usual, for the person who had identified his need. And I began to experience this unshakeable sense that others needed to know the Lord but just were not admitting it to others, maybe not even to themselves. I was troubled by it all and moved in my spirit. I began to pray fervently, which continued even during the night when I woke up.
Then yesterday afternoon, and especially at last night’s time of worship, I began wrestling with God internally. I felt, and fairly strongly, that I was not to go to the construction site this morning with the others, but to remain behind at the school where we are being accommodated so nicely. I resisted that feeling and began trying to think it through. “I’m having all these intense feelings right now – what in the world is going on?!? Father, is it You, or am I just emotionally overwrought right now?” “It’s important that people see me working hard, not shirking.” “I’m a little (well, more than a little) tired right now, not on top of my game – am I being tempted to laziness?” But the more I debated with myself, the more convinced I became that these thoughts just did not ring true. It was becoming clearer that God’s Spirit was prompting me. But why? “Lord, if I stay behind for no special reason, people really will get the wrong idea. What am I to do? Work on my sermon series? Spend time with you alone? What?”
After breakfast and devotions this morning, it was time to head off to our respective missions. I knew it would sound funny, and I had no rational explanation, but I set off to find Coley to say that I would not be going to the construction site. I knew he (and maybe even a few others) might tease me a little, but I also knew that it would be playful, because really and truly they would understand. I looked in the common areas. No Coley. So I set off down the hallway. Others were leaving, moving toward the main exit, and I was the only one going the wrong direction. I felt just the least bit awkward, the only salmon swimming upstream. And still no sign of Coley. Then, out of the blue, one of the people stepped out of the group. It was Kandice. She stepped right in front of me, interrupting my Coley search, and said, “Pastor Keith, can I talk to you?” “Sure,” I said. “Pastor Keith, I just wanted you to know, it was me. I’m the one who raised my hand yesterday.”
And there it was. No, that’s not right. There He was.
I spent a delightful hour with Kandice, hearing her story, praying for her, praying with her, and talking about the way of the Lord. It turns out she was not saying she was unsaved, for she had received Christ last year at SummerSalt. She was saying that she was “lost,” uncertain of her purpose and direction. She was clearly ready to be a disciple, not just a believer. So I talked to her about baptism, and I’m going to see if we can’t arrange for her baptism right here, right now. “What does hinder me?”
I escorted Kandice back to the sports camp. As I was walking away, a dear lady called me aside and asked me to pray for her brother. His health has been poor and we’ve been praying for him for some time now. She had just learned there was more bad news. Her heart and her eyes were both full as she spoke of her brother. The deep love she felt for him was so evident. I felt unspeakably honored just to be allowed into that moment.
I went straight to a place where I knew I could pray. I spent time with my Father that was both tender and powerful, almost in a paradoxical way.
As I began to leave, someone else called me over. She had a Bible study question, which led to a wonderfully moving conversation, and then in turn to a sweet time of private study and pouring my heart out to God.
All before lunch.
Oh, Father, I feel so thick sometimes. Why am I so dull, so insensitive to your Spirit in me? Why is it so hard for me, at my spiritual age, to distinguish between my emotions and Your Spirit? Why am I so quick to analyze, to second-guess, to explain away, to rationalize? Why am I still so slow to simply yield, simply obey? I really am a jar of clay – why in the world would you put the treasure of your gospel in a jar of clay? What were You thinking? I am so unready for Your Kingdom. Please help me. Please don’t give up on me.