I’m in the middle of 2 and a half days out of town that are devoted to study, including the high level preparation for two sermons series this fall, and two new classes I’ll be teaching at church. Because I’m in the foothills of the Cascades, the days are punctuated by the rise and fall of wind. As the day warms, the trees outside the window begin to dance, sometimes wildly enough that cedar and fir needles float across the wind, glimmering as the pass through the shafts of light that penetrate the trees. Birds flutter. Squirrels nearly fly from tree to tree. This little patch of forest becomes a kaleidoscope, a light show, a celebration.
But at 5:30 in the morning, all is quiet. Not a sound. Not a movement of even a branch. I step outside and it’s cool enough to make my breath visible, even now in late July. Crisp. Still. Silent. These are the moments when, often, God speaks so clearly, so powerfully to me. I grind the beans, brew the coffee, and then simply sit and listen as I sip.
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice” – the scripture comes to me clearly, almost audibly.
In the stillness, a profound awareness sweeps over me regarding how much God loves us – infinitely. And in that love, I’m reminded that God also longs for we who have come to know Christ to enter in – fully – to the life of grace, glory, freedom, fruitfulness, and joy that is ours in Christ. I’m suddenly aware of a ‘besetting sin’ in my life which needs to be confessed. This awareness leads to confession, and renunciation, and thanksgiving for forgiveness and the freedom that is available because of Christ.
These revelations and this exercise remind me of two important themes:
Second, the growing burden in my life, on behalf of the church where I serve, is the burden of strengthening intercessory prayer. There’s this growing sense that the next major movement in our little flock needs to be centered in the realm of learning to pray for one another effectively, so that, by virtue of a robust ministry of prayer, lives are blessed, healed, and liberated to walk in the good that Christ has offered. I’m working on a prayer curriculum right now, and will be training both staff, our church council, and whoever else is interested or called to the work of prayer. The goal will be that, by the New Year, we will have a small army of people available to pray for people after services who are trained and growing into the this important ministry.
The sun is up now… the dogs are barking. The thin place is thickening. But much has been gained in these early hours.