Rousing Her Radiance: Day 35
‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The Lord will roar from Zion…the earth and sky will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for His people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel’ (Joel 3:14-16).
Sharon needed shelter. Far from home in Denver, the ‘home’ she had made with girlfriend Kate was falling apart. More drugs, more partying. Walking from one club to another through the downtown, they heard music. Kate laughed as they passed the open doors of the church. ‘Let’s do it!’ She led Sharon mockingly into the gathering and the two sat down, hoping for some diversion.
Sharon caught something of the Spirit. The tunes were not unfamiliar, kind of like the ones from her home church in Fort Worth. Suddenly sober, she felt that ache for God and the pain from a place that she couldn’t return (childhood sexual abuse, a broken family). After a few songs, the pastor invited those who needed prayer to come forward. Sharon wanted to go up but dare not under Kate’s watchful gaze. The two left, but Sharon went back to the apartment alone.
She returned to that church a couple days later, then again, and again. She met my friend Cindy, a pastor’s wife and Living Waters leader there, who prayerfully accompanied her in the renewal of her faith. Sharon had a lot of stuff to deal with. God helped her through Cindy and, eventually, a group of people who walked with her. In a way, she found the God of her youth; in another, she couldn’t go home again. Sharon had to work out tough stuff as an adult; that meant finding out who she was apart from Kate. She found a new home.
Will we become home for the likes of Sharon? Will our heavenly songs pour out from the altar onto the streets? Multitudes in the valley of decision! I am convinced that the costly immoralities of our day—solutions people seek in their ignorance and pride and confusion—will leave a generation broken and in search of deeper securities that only the Church can provide. Will we?
Where sin abounds, will grace abound more (Rom. 5:20) from the overflow of our worship? Let’s contend for places of encounter, opportunities to meet people who are ‘far away’ and bring them near (Eph. 2:17) through our pretty good communities.
I won’t forget the vision Jesus gave me one day running up a large downtown street—a church towered before me from a unique angle. As I ran past it, I saw water flowing out of her ancient doors and onto thirsty hurting people. Liquid love! Living waters from the altar of God!
Since then, we have initiated evening services open to anyone where seekers can come, often through friends, and soak in Jesus. A beautiful sanctuary, Spirit-endowed music, a witness (succinct and earthy) of how Jesus restored a broken life, then immersion in healing prayer by people who know how to pray. Simple. And effective. People discover Jesus in ways they never knew Him. A homecoming.
May I invite you to consider how you can create a healing space for seekers where you worship? You can help make your church a home. Heavenly.
‘In that day, the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house,
and will water the valley of acacias’ (Joel 3:18).
‘Jesus, give us Your heart for those far away; help us to bring them near. Would You give us vision of Divine Mercy pouring out from our altar to those most in need? Help us make our churches places of refuge. Use our weak prayers to answer the prayers of the lost and least.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’