Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Glory from a Can
From the corner of his desk the pastor took the text for the radio advertisement. Two weekends hence, a Prophecy Conference with visiting ministry team. His associate had prepared the copy for the local inspirational station:
"...Come and experience the awesome presence of God as we lift our voices under the anointed praise ministry of...hear what God has in store for the Body of Christ in the coming days...consider the ingredients which are now ripening for the great End Time Harvest of souls..."
He closed his eyes and shook his head. Had he led his under-study to this? Had he put such a spirit into his flock? Admittedly the words copied the style which he had often used from the pulpit. The suggestion was, 'People just show up, and God will too.' But every Sunday he watched that strange mixture of hearts and intentions enter the rear doors of the sanctuary. Light talk, laughter, tardiness, social subjects on the lips.
So few, in all honesty, were prepared in heart for the arrival of "the awesome presence of God"; had any idea what it looked like. But then as in times past, he reminded himself that the 'Lord inhabits the praises of Israel' (Psalm 22:3). Strange place to find that scripture portion - right in the anguish of the Calvary Psalm. Next his thoughts shifted to Zephaniah where special intimate blessings are promised for those who are "sorrowful for the solemn assembly".
This did not sound like the jubilant victory choruses filling the praise portion of their services. So often those lyrics sounded like self-assured declaration rather than reverent thanksgiving or searchings for holy intimacy. From song to song there was built up such a heady momentum that God would not dare to interrupt.
He was reminded of a scripture reading from the previous evening. Psalm 124:
1If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
2If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
3Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
4Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:
5Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.
6Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.
7Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
The tears and heart-wrenching supplications in his following prayer were a different experience. Perhaps watering new soil.