I have been laying awake in my snuggly porch bed thinking… and I realize I need to get up and write this down!
It isn’t enough to be “gifted” with hospitality or prophecy or whatever gift God has given. You have to be totally submitted to the Gift Giver. It’s His gift. Use the gift in your own power and you might get a bit of a glow. Use it in His power and He will light up not only you, but all who encounter you, because by encountering you, they will actually encounter Him. It will be all about Him, all about His glory.
Oh, Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, dear Jesus – my Lord and my God – I need a “prophet” encounter with You. Isaiah saw You, God, high and lifted up, Your train filling the temple, and the angels calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy!” And the man Isaiah could only respond, “Woe am I, for I am a man of unclean lips.” And then an angel took a coal from the heavenly altar and touched his lips – and he was cleansed, made clean and pure and holy. And then You, God, were able to powerfully use him to present Your prophetic message to Your people!
Moses encountered You, too. At the burning bush, he “looked on” and it was enough to change the direction of his life. But he was still fearful of carrying out Your purposes, so You had to give him Aaron as a helper (another weak man). But then later Moses encountered Your glory on the mountain – and he was transformed! He’d already been used quite powerfully by You, but mostly in “physical” ways. Now You moved him from physical leadership to true spiritual leadership. His encounter with You was so powerful that he literally glowed after leaving Your Presence on the mountain and in the tent: so much so that the people were afraid and he had to veil himself.
And what about John’s vision? He saw Jesus, the Lamb, seated on the throne of God, and the choirs of angels singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and he fell at Your feet “as a dead man.” And as a consequence, untold millions for the past 2000 years have, through the record of his encounter with You and the message You gave him, been given a glimpse of Your glory, too, and an opportunity to hunger and thirst for more and more of You!
Over and over through Scripture we see men (and women!) who are “doing their best” to serve You, and then they truly encounter You, come into Your Presence, and are cast into humility and repentance and hunger for You. And they end up being transformed forever, going out to light up the world as the glow and power of Your Presence goes with them. That’s what I want, Lord!
Lord, I’ve been in some “more or less” burning bush encounters with You, when You brought me to Yourself in that little church in Masset (and even before, at camp when I was 12, at the Sutera Twins crusade… and at that Nazarene Camp where I got a clear glimpse of You… and pulled back… oh, forgive me, Lord). And then down the road when I was baptized; what glory that was! And when I was in Prince Rupert, so sick and sad and “in the dry wilderness,” and I went to that service, and “You poured in the oil and the wine, the kind that restores my soul; You found me bleeding and dying by the Jericho road, and You poured in the oil and the wine.” And when I was laid out flat on my back at Pixie’s Bible study group, and you took away the burden of my pain about the loss of ______: “Burdens down, Lord, burdens down, now I lay my burdens down.” And in the little church in Keremeos when You told me You’d go with me to Masset, and suddenly “it is well, it is well with my soul.”
That’s past! I can’t even think of recent events that come up to those encounter experiences, Lord. Maybe it’s because I’m supposed to be more mature now, Lord, and not need emotional experiences. But God, Oh, dear God, I want more, here and now. I want an experience, an encounter that isn’t just introductory, or temporarily inspirational, or even maturing or stabilizing. I want a transforming encounter with You of a level and quality through which I will be changed, transformed, truly usable by You, never again content to plug along on the afterglow of the last experience, waiting, sometimes sleeping or drifting off until the next “fix.”
Dear God, I want an encounter with You that is so permanent and powerful that the fear of You cannot leave me, that my pride, my self, is so destroyed by it that I never again am willing to slip and slide along without You, never want to stop pursuing You, never want to take my eyes off Your face, never want to let go of Your heart for a moment. Lord, I want an encounter with You so powerful that when others encounter me, they instantly, automatically encounter You, because I am wholly submitted, humbled, repentant, bowed joyfully before You, and Your Presence is with me and in me, because I am no longer “me,” but “Christ in me!”
Lord, it is the wee hours of the morning, and I don’t know if all these words are perfectly “theologically correct.” But dear God, You know what I am saying. Still Lord, I feel like in some way my head wants all this but still my heart isn’t fully open and prepared. Lord, I feel like I don’t fear You enough, like I don’t know how to fear You enough. Lord, I can’t conjure up, in my fleshly self, the fear – and consequent repentance, humility and love – necessary to live in Your Presence. I see that now!
Lord, I am going to chase You, pursue You, beg for You. But Lord, I need You to stop at some point, turn around, catch me, and pick me up in Your arms, long enough that I can get a hold of Your face and really gaze into it, long enough, strongly enough that I cannot help but be consumed by Your glory, so that my flesh will be burned in Your presence, so that I will fear You truly, reverence You, fall on my face before You in fear and trembling and tears and true sorrow and deep repentance of a level I can now barely even imagine.
Oh God, that is what I want, what I need. And Lord, I need to want it truly in my spirit, not just my mind. But I need to encounter Your manifold Presence to really be that. Only then can You truly use me, for only then will I truly be able to submit to You. How true it is – I see it now – that it is You who calls, and we cannot even come without Your call. Oh dear God, You have called me this far – and I truly thank You for Your amazing salvation and love and care and maturing thus far on my journey. But oh, dear God, I want more. I know more is possible. I’ve seen glimpses of more in my own experience. I’ve encountered it in people whom I knew instantly had encountered more of You (like my grandpa and others). I’ve heard it and read the stories of the Hebrides and Cali and Canada’s far north, and Asuza Street; of Finney and Smith Wigglesworth and other men and women of God whom You got a hold of, and who in turn hung onto You.
Lord God, I want to be a God-chaser (thank You for bringing that book, Extreme God-Chasers, into my life). I want to pursue You and have You turn around and pursue and catch me.
Lord, I want Your church to encounter You, to repent together with deep and terrible repentance, for ourselves individually, then as Your church and people, and then for all people, past and present, in our community, nation and world.
Lord God! I want our building to shake, and the roar of Your Presence to fill it up. I want to see thousands and thousands come together in regular, ongoing all-night prayer and repentance gatherings before You. I want the churches to put their petty self-interest totally away, permanently, and unite as one people, Your people, before You, in Your Presence. I want to see miracles in the physical realm as You honour Your people’s repentance. I want to see the powers of the evil spiritual powers broken, driven away, destroyed by You. I want to see people in the streets, homes, bars, malls, workplaces suddenly fall to their knees before You, weeping, trembling, repenting, seeking You and Your salvation and glory right where they are, without preaching or fine evangelistic services or any of the tools of man. I want to see Hebrides revival here, in my own town, in my province, nation, continent, world.
Lord God, I want to see a mighty, unprecedented, Acts experience in our churches. Jesus, dear Jesus, You promised that when You went away and sent Your Holy Spirit on Your people, all the wonders that You did on earth (outside the salvation You gave Your life for, which only You could do), we would do also – and more! Lord, I want to see people healed by faith just because my shadow falls on them. I want to see a church where everyone shares all things, not because we have a barter club or a social conscience, but because You are in us by Your Holy Spirit. You are among us and in us, and when people see us, they see immediately that “we have been with Jesus.”
Heavenly Father… too many words. I want to go from words to heart, Lord – Your heart! Oh, dear God, do it in me now! Do it in my church, Lord, this Sunday! Why wait, Lord? Do it in people’s hearts before they even go to Bible camp this summer, so that when the camp opens its doors on July 1, Canada Day, it will really be opening its doors for God’s Day. Then people in the community will come flocking, without advertising, to fall on their faces in that old tabernacle – that has had moments of Your glory in the past – in repentance and seeking of You. Change my heart, O God. Transform me. Catch me up, and let me encounter You. Do the same, Lord, for all others who long to know You, who desire You, who want to live permanently in Your Presence, who want to experience Your glory and reflect it to others so that the whole world will see, and as many as You call will be inexorably drawn to You!
I’m so tired of programs, seminars, books, this kind of church, that kind of church, target groups, modern worship, seeker friendliness. Oh God, what we need, what I need and want, is You alone!
I’m going to keep chasing You, Lord. The ball is in Your court. I’m waiting to see firsthand, to personally experience, the power and glory of You responding to Your people, even to me, little me. Oh, dear God, please? Thank You! Amen.
(I’d like some physical strength, too, if You don’t mind and it’s in Your plan. But weakness if good too, if through it Your power can work and overcome “me.” Is that why You’ve sent this physical weakness and tiredness upon me? Thank You, then! Praise Your Name! Hallelujah! Amen!)
Amen, amen, amen! Holy, holy, holy! Glory to God in the highest! And ultimate peace to men of good will who will turn all over to God!
The birds are singing. “Morning is breaking, like the first morning.” Aslan, I sense, is opening his mouth to roar! To sing the song of new beginnings, new life, victory! Oh, Lord, let me be here when You break open the heavenlies! Use me, dear Jesus. In Your strength and power. Let it all be about You, Lord. Your righteousness, holiness, eternal purpose. Amen, Lord God. So be it.