One of Those Nights
Last night was “one of those nights.” Obviously, that could be used to describe a good number of things. Depending on how your life’s been going and your view of the world, your interpretation of that statement will differ. If you’re a “waiting for the shoe to drop” type, you probably think the shoe just dropped. If you’re an optimist, you’re probably thinking last night was amazing for me. If you’re bitter, angry and/or envious, you’re hoping I got what I had coming to me. Well, you’re all a little bit right!
This weekend was crazy busy. Actually, the past week has been insane. On Sunday afternoon, like it has for a few weeks now, everything stops and it’s Alpha time. Yesterday was so busy that the back of my shirt may have still been damp from my shower water as I didn’t have time to get sufficiently dry before we had to run out of the house. After dropping TD off at “church school,” I headed down to the gathering of Alpha hosts. As I was running down the steps at Hope, the increasing weight of His Presence was noticeable. I grabbed a seat on the floor (I do this both because I’m sore from the house projects and because I dislike sitting in folding chairs). Immediately I was pulled into the Word. Some woman telling her story mentioned a verse she liked which immediately connected with me. But when I went to my concordance to look it up, my eyes focused on a different word that caught my attention. It led me to Matthew 10:19-20:
“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
I was a little confused because I’m generally not concerned about what to say, as I feel confident in who I am. But I was stuck on those verses, and in His Presence, I knew they were meant for me.
Later, we sat down to eat with our group. Reluctantly doing our administrative duties, we asked who’d be attending the Holy Spirit Retreat. The response was less than overwhelming. I was confused and a little disappointed. Our group has great chemistry and I expected the response to be a unanimous “yes, we’ll be there with bells on!!” A minutes later, the worship music began and I approached my Father, “is this our fault as hosts, focusing on connection with the group rather than being good administrators?” He told me that this was His plan. I asked Him what I was to do. He told me that He’d already given me an understanding of why they weren’t all coming.
For those of you who don’t know what I do (and most of you don’t), I help life insurance producers deal with complex business and estate issues for high net worth individuals. But one of my passions that bleeds into my work is the study of generational differences. Sitting there in a group of late X’ers and early Y’ers with young children, I knew what they were thinking, “you want me to commit my Friday night and my Saturday morning and afternoon to going to some retreat? I like these people, but I don’t see the value for me in exchange with sending my children off to a sitter for a night and a day.” I know they were thinking that because I’ve sat in their chairs and because I’m from their generation. I understand how they see the world. I’m no different on that — show me value, then I’ll commit.
So, back to my conversation — “Okay Father, I get it. I’m supposed to show them value.” We hadn’t told them anything about it to that point. “Do You just want us to explain what happens there?” About ten minutes went by with no answer from Him; I’d settled in to listen to Pastor Caroline. Then He said this to me, “introduce to them the story of how I delivered you from the wilderness.”
Me: “um…You sure about that?” See, the story of Angie and me isn’t one that you’ll see on Oprah or Dr. Phil. It wasn’t because of our single minded refusal to be anything less than awesome that our marriage was delivered. That our lives were changed. We were both about as toxic as people get. And when our story gets told, it can alter an atmosphere in massive ways.
As soon as I’d asked the question, Pastor Caroline answered it word for word on His behalf. That caught my attention; no way this was just going on in my head. Then, He clarified, “not the whole story, but tie it together for them. Let them see how prayer and my Spirit go together, introduce them. Don’t worry, you’ll know when to speak. I’ll open the door for you. Be bold, I’m giving you my authority in this realm tonight.”
The first thing that ran through my head was “oh boy. Here we go.” Telling a story that took 10 years to brew isn’t easy, especially for someone like me who never lacks for words. And it’s an intimate story; I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk about it without some emotion pouring out. Like Malchus, whose ear was cut off in the Passion, once you’ve had God’s healing hand on your life, you’re not the same anymore. I would gladly share; I sat there both joyful and fidgety, waiting for the door to open. The door opened and out came a very truncated version of my brokenness of one year ago. Thankfully, nobody jumped up and ran out screaming — you never know what to expect when you get raw with people for the first time. And to think, they haven’t even heard Angie’s side of the story, which I think is significantly more powerful than mine.
My hope and prayer for them is that their schedules clear and that the value of the retreat becomes overwhelmingly apparent in the next week. For those who are growing in faith, the Holy Spirit retreat is a powerful time for a young relationship. The time we spend in group that weekend will be amazing; I want them all to experience it. So, here is my request of my readers. For those of you who pray, I ask that you pray this prayer for my group this week: “Father, clear the path for the A-Team to be 100% present at the Holy Spirit retreat. Let them see you clear this path so that they may know it is Your blessing.” For those of you who have Holy Spirit experiences, please post them below or email them to me and I’ll pass them along to the group (anonymously, if you’d prefer).