Oh Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising up against me; many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.”
But You, Oh Lord, are a shield around me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy hill.
I lie down and sleep; I awake again, for the Lord sustains me.
Psalm 3: 1-5
Throughout the summer, we have had prayer night every Wednesday night as we are preparing our satellite campus for launch in the fall. The sanctuary is lying fallow for the summer, in preparation for the coming birth of a new worship center. In the sabbath rest of the building, we have established an informal time of individual prayer, followed by corporate prayer and communion. Our average attendance is four to five individuals. Two of those are my husband (the pastor) and me (the pastor’s wife). My husband likes to say that we are small but mighty. I think that we are small and weak. I think that God loves using the small to display the His might. We considered cancelling the prayer time in the beginning of the summer due to low attendance ( the poor nursery workers carve out the time to come and care for the pastor’s kids and no one else). But, shoot, it is easier for them and it’s free child-care for us. So in all reality, it is a win-win.
Really, though, we came to the conclusion that the numbers don’t really matter. When two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in our midst. And, boy, did the scripture become a reality this summer. Unstructured prayer time is not super exciting in the church. In my experience, people shy away from it. It is quiet, there is no one leading, and you have to really use your own brain and heart. This gets tricky. It also involves stepping out of the solid and into the fluid. That is scary. I know, because I shy away from it. Every single Wednesday, I have strongly considered and weighed out the possibility of staying home from the prayer time and sending my husband and the kids. I have good excuses. Like being sick. That’s my best excuse, and it is ALWAYS legit. But despite exhaustion, pain, fevers, dehydration, and everything else in the book of chronic illness, I have found myself somehow sitting in the passenger seat of our car wondering how I managed to get ready and go without bailing. (Hint: It’s always God).
In the beginning of the summer, I would sit in the car and kill time before entering the building. I felt so much anxiety about going into the prayer time. When I got in there, I prayed on my knees or in a chair. Sometimes, I couldn’t actually go into the sanctuary. It was too overwhelming. I would sit in the narthex or a classroom to pray. As weeks progressed, however, the sanctuary called me more and more. Some days, God would call me to the exterior of the building to lay hands on the bricks and pray in tongues and sing worship songs. The tears started a couple weeks ago. A power that I can’t explain has begun to stir my spirit on Wednesday nights and bring me to my knees at the altar. Last night, it landed me smack under the wooden cross in the right front corner of the sanctuary. I wrote in my journal, prayed, and opened my Bible to the Psalms. This book of poetry holds new weight in my life during this season of suffering, confusion, limbo, and waiting. I opened to Psalm 3, and God plucked a chord in my spirit that resonated with the chord that David plucked as he authored this melancholic yet triumphant Psalm. I have never before in my life experienced the word of God exuding such life as I did last night. I cannot understand what happened in my heart as I read the words in that Holy Bible, but it was nothing short of crazy absurdly supernatural. “But thou, oh Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head” morphed from words on paper to the most passionate cry that my heart could mutter. I read those five verses over and over again. I repeated them through snot and tears for thirty minutes, and I felt the electrical presence of the Most High God.
I wish that words could sufficiently convey my experience of coming face-to-face with the goodness of God last night. If they could, however, it wouldn’t be quite as heavenly, would it? I suppose that it is okay that I cannot fully communicate or even grasp what happened at the foot of the cross, in the crux of my sickness and brokenness. That is mostly how God works anyway. But I left with a clear assurance: He is so unbelievable GOOD. Our God is GOOD. My God is GOOD. He is so GOOD. Hear me. He is a good God. Did you get it? He’s good.
Moses came down from Mount Sinai with a radiant, shiny face. I feel like last night was my own version of Mount Sinai. My face, however, I’m pretty sure was not shining. It had black streaks running down it from not water-proof mascara (one would think that I would learn). I was thrilled and overjoyed and completely dumbfounded. We know, however, that any change in emotional (or spiritual) homeostasis likes to trigger buckets and buckets of adrenaline to be dumped into my system. So, no, I wasn’t like Moses. I was like my POTSIE self after a God-encounter. My reaction was not nearly as cool as Moses’. I was just vibrating out of my seat as my inhuman supply of norepinephrine created in me a human hummingbird. The physical ramifications of my God-encounter were excessive, if you ask me. Really, can’t a girl visit the mountain of God every once in a while without a crazy POTS flare-up afterwards? No? Okay. No problem. I’ll probably keep going up there. It’s totally worth it. The flare-up only lasted for about five hours.
This post is not elegant (I had hoped it would be, but it’s not). I just wanted to get it out into the world. He is our shield. He is our glory. He is the lifter of our heads, no matter what our backs are bent down by. And if you missed it earlier, God is Good. Got it?