This week has been one of those that I thought I would want to wipe off the calendar. A wonderfully, uplifting Sunday turned into a nightmare as unsubstantiated rumors went flying through the church. It was like the old song says, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going!" And what a fire it was! I was shocked at how easily people turned from supporters to name-callers, from "We are with you" to we're outta here!In the midst of the hurt feelings and tears, God showed up with His comfort, peace, and understanding. He gently reminded me that Christ's disciples were loving on Him in the upper room and running full speed away from Him just a few hours later, and He was Totally innocent, where I'm sure Dan and I are not! Then He led me to a powerful book which I had received some 15 years ago by an amazing woman named Fuschia Pickett. (yep, that's her real name!) I remember her as the speaker at a Women of Excellence retreat. She was tiny, and so frail she had to be helped up to the podium. But once she got there - BAM...she was so anointed and powerful. Her big voice boomed out of that little body with clarity and strength that was both shocking and incredible. No one moved or stirred the entire hour she spoke. So I grabbed her book and started reading.
One of the first things that struck me was her statement that before God works His power in a church, He shakes it fiercely. I'm not belittling those who may have left, because their reason for leaving our church may just be that they were in the wrong place. She also said not to be surprised that churches would shrink before the final revival. God is getting His army ready and those with divided or shaky loyalties have to go. And it's my job to put aside all offense, walk in total forgiveness, and let them go.
The second thing that just jumped off the page was the explanation she gave of revival and harvest. Most Christians link the two but they are different. The church has to experience revival, reawakening of the Spirit and Life of God in its midst, before it is ready to deal with the harvest which God intends to bring in. Whoa! You see, so much of the church believes that we're just here hanging on until that day when Christ will rush in to save us from annihilation by whisking us out "like a thief in the night". The church is standing sleepily on a hilltop in a wedding gown, getting weaker and weaker as the enemy's onslaught gets stronger. The longer Christ is retained in heaven, the more Christians will fall until a tiny remnant will be left for Him to rapture. Judgment will come and the enemy will be banished, but that's later on after they've enjoyed the victory of having stolen God's creation from Him - if only for a season.
All the while, God wants us to dig in, put on our fatigues, and sharpen our Swords. He sees the battle, and our victory, and wants us to rise up in defiance against the enemy - not cower in fear. So this is our preparation time, our cave experience, that cements our loyalty, sharpens our defenses, and turns us from a quivering collection of recruits to a mighty fighting force that the world and the enemy will take note of. He's coming back for a spotless bride, not a church on life support!
What about our trials and battles? Just like His revelations to the nation of Israel, Every trial is purposed by God to show us a new facet or dimension of His character, a new lesson we need to learn. Nothing is an accident or a mistake. Romans 8:28 says ALL, not some. We have to trust Him, take a step back, & ask God to reveal what He's trying to teach us so that we don't have to keep going around the same mountain again & again!
All the while we have to be sharpening our skill at using the weapons He has given us. Prayer is preeminent, knowledge of God's Word is essential, praise and worship are our focus, and total submission is the goal. Priorities have to change, allegiances have to be unshakable, emotions have to be put aside, and perspectives have to be adjusted. It takes discipline, courage, & endurance!
So, we are all at a crossroads and it's our choice as to whether we're going to put on God's armor or go back to sleep...I know what my decision is! Do you?