When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
Well, today is one of those days that kindles memories.
May 20th will always be a red-letter day for me.
You see, it was on this day 22 years ago that God spoke to me and told me to start a home group for the purpose of worship and prayer.
I wasn't looking to begin such an animal. I was simply minding my own business reading a book titled "THE OPEN CHURCH". I had heard the book advertised on WDJC and I decided to buy a copy to check it out.
For some time I had been wrestling with the model of church I had been attending.
It was a traditional church....on Sunday morning you could count on three hymns, a special song that was sung by one of our members....offertory......the message...the invitation...benediction and then everyone was out the door headed to Morrison's Cafeteria in hopes we beat the church down the street. In my mind there had to be more than to church and this ongoing relationship with Jesus, than I knew about. I had questions. "What if the Holy Spirit wanted to change the order of the service? Would we let Him?" "What if there was a time when we were suppose to sit and wait on God? Would we do it?" The questions went on and on. To put it bluntly, there had to be more than what I was aware of, when it came to following God.
I remember sitting outside of Mid-South Electrics ( I was working there in their electronics department) eating my lunch and finishing up THE OPEN CHURCH book. It was a causal prayer...kind of just threw it up into the air...."Lord, why can't I be part of a church like what I have read about in this book?" The answer (and I do mean "Answer") came immediately. "You can....Start One". What? "No, you don't understand, Lord...I want to be a part of such a church." Same answer..."Then start one!" I didn't argue...I didn't even give thought to "is this me, Lord? Or is it You?" I knew God wanted me to start a home group.
I went to the pastor of the church that Vicki and I had started attending recently, and told him of what had happened and how God had spoken to me. He was genuinely excited for me, but told me that he could not sanction such a meeting. He gave good reasons as to why he couldn't, and I was grateful for his honesty and candor with me. But I knew that this was something I had to do. So I asked my pastor if he would bless me and release me to follow what I had heard God say. He agreed and we parted in good standings.
The only church I knew that was founded on the principal of home groups was the Vineyard, so I called Jim Bentley and told him my situation. I asked if he would consider being my spiritual covering as we got the meeting up and running. He consented and the rest is history. Little did I know that this home group would be the proving ground and school that would bring forth a call to pastor that I had been given 34 years earlier. I was thirteen at the time, and when God called me to be a pastor, it scared the be-heebies out of me. "Me? A pastor? No way, I can't do that?" So I ran. I ran for 34 years until God locked me down on May 20th. I still didn't understand this was where everything was headed when God told me to start a home group, but the meeting itself was a proving ground that showed me I could pastor. That group became a place where I learned to worship...to hear God and then follow His instruction.....to teach...and to serve those who were a part of that group.
So, I've written all of that to say this....
Over the past 22 years, God has allowed me to see a lot of things...to be a part of some pretty incredible times.....and to grow and mature in Him. Does this mean that I have arrived at some sort of divine resting place? I don't think so. If anything, it has shown me how much more I have to grow. How much of God I still don't understand. I'm ready for the journey.
I still drive by the place where Mid-South use to be, and I can look over into that parking lot, to the very space my VW was parked, and say to myself..."There it is..there is where everything changed for me." Today I am grateful.
Thank you, Father.
God on you....