Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Following the Shepherd

Tonight we had a prayer service to lift up our senior pastor. He's not in good shape. This is the latest update:

They have discovered that John has a rare blood infection. In order to
monitor his heart, his blood and his vitals more closely they took him to
surgery to place a pulmonary artery catheter. That pulmonary artery catheter was
successfully placed and they are now trying to calibrate it. They are treating
the blood infection with antibiotics.The most urgent prayer request is that John
is dehydrated and his sodium levels are low. While they have been pumping him
full of fluids, his blood has not been absorbing those fluids. Instead the
fluids have been filling other places in his body making him swollen (think
Michelin man) and even seeping fluid. So, he is full of fluids but he is
dehydrated. They are now switching to a different type of fluid to work on that

As we ended the prayer service pastor Steve Fowler mentioned that God is our Shepherd. That image stuck with me as I remembered that He walks before us in this trial. He knows what lies ahead and is leading us along the best path. He's not sitting back somewhere watching us try our best to find our way. If we look, we can see him leading not just giving us direction, and we have the choice to follow or to venture off on our own. I crave safety, so for me, at least initially, it's an easy choice. Following when things don't look so great makes me question all I believe about my Leader. Each time though, I've found him to be faithful and worthy of my following. I guess that part gets easier with time and experience. The path doesn't get easier but the response time when questions arise gets shorter.

During worship I had a vision of powerful thunder surrounding me. I felt that I was in the presence of the Lord God Almighty. I was humbled to the core. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, I was prostrate before God, acknowledging him for who he is. Physically I was still in my seat as I didn't want to cause a distraction but had I been at home I would have allowed that vision to consume me completely. It was powerful. The only other time in my life where I had a vision like this was in high school while I was attending a retreat. It was a very real and vulnerable time, we were witnessing to people at the mall and learning about stepping out in our faith not just giving lip service to it. I clearly heard satan weeping, all alone in a pit below us and as I looked up I heard the angels in heaven rejoicing louder than any crowd at an arena. Again, it was very powerful and my simple words just can't do it justice.

It's not just pastor John that I'm dependent on the Lord for. It seems like so many people I know are getting hit with major stuff these days: breast cancer, stroke, major marriage issues, infertility, a baby the doctors say won't live, undiagnosed illnesses, chronic pain, major financial issues... It is a privilege and responsibility to be in prayer for all these critical situations. Right now, in this moment, I feel overwhelmed with the needs. I'm reminded and encouraged that God's shoulders are big enough to bear all these burdens. He doesn't need my perfectly phrased prayers to bless and heal these needs. He does want my heart dependent on him for the answers to them though.

I'm also struck by the stage I'm in right now. After years of struggle and some painful experiences I feel like we're in a respite time. I want to truly and fully enjoy this time of blessing. I don't know what tomorrow holds but I know that right now my burden is lighter. I can praise him for that, I can also praise him for all that those trials taught me. I love the song "Gratitude" by Nicole Nordeman, it's on the playlist if you want to listen. That's where I want my heart to be.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff