Recently the Spirit of God spoke to me and directed me to establish a once-a-month gathering for prayer and for praise. He revealed His heart to me, and how greatly important it is to Him that His people be in much prayer in this season. I wanted to be immediately obedient to this call and began searching for a place where we might gather on a consistent, monthly basis. After calling several local venues, and finding their rental fee, even for one evening, to be remarkably high, I heard that Still Small Voice suggest to me that I should call a dear long-time friend at the nearby Anglican Church and ask if they would allow us to gather there. That door opened to us immediately!
Last Thursday was the second gathering and there were 12 people, from different seasons of my past, including the Anglican Church where I was raised. The Hebraic meaning of the number 12 is "that which is complete and forms a whole, perfect, harmonious unit. Twelve speaks of a complete nation, such as the 12 tribes of Israel." It was a most blessed and intimate time with the Lord as we joined our worship and our prayers in unity to the Holy One, forming a whole, harmonious unit. Afterward, I found myself in conversations with friends whom I'd met probably ten years ago in early Messianic gatherings, as well as friends I'd known for over twenty years in various churches. We were all marveling at how God had brought us together in unity and how glorious it was to look back over our shoulders and see that every single stepping stone we had each taken in our spiritual journeys had mattered so greatly.
Some people today are verbally bashing their former places of worship, recalling what they now feel was "idol-worship" or false doctrine or incorrect theology. I find it sad if that is someone's whole perception of their steps in seeking Truth. As we came back together last Thursday evening, we talked about the blessings we experienced in all the little steps of our journeys. God had given just enough Light for the step we were on, and whether or not we had it all right (and who has YET to have it all right?) we were on the journey and He was leading. Did we make mis-steps? Of course. Did we fall into idol-worship? Yes. We still do, every time we make something or someone more important in our lives than Yeshua, our King. Yet, we move forward, still seeking, still searching, still falling down and getting up and drawing closer and closer to the One with whom we desire deep intimacy. He is the goal and as long as our steps continue to take us deeper into relationship with Him, we are on the right track! And when we look back over our shoulders we see that many who walked with us on this journey blessed and enriched our lives.
On each stepping stone, we changed. We learned and embraced more truth and we let go of more false beliefs. Ted Dekker writes, "I've never met a sixty-year-old who believes all the same things in every respect that he did when he was thirty. Not one. Views on child rearing or love or judgment or the end times or what constitutes a healthy diet or a hundred other issues invariably change. Beliefs change. So let's not be too dogmatic at any age. We might very well be arguing with a future version of ourselves. Instead, may we extend grace to ourselves and to others and take the journey alongside each other in humility. May we open ourselves up to knowing our Father intimately, rather than defending what we think we know about Him."
Awakened at 4:04 this morning, I heard the Spirit whisper to me, "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon the whole world to try them that dwell upon the earth." I lay in bed for a few minutes, pondering that phrase, "word of my patience." I wondered what it really meant. How do we keep the word of His patience?
I decided to get up and see what the Spirit would further reveal to me about this. Whatever it is that I must do to be kept from the great tests and trials coming upon the earth, I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO IT! I knew I had heard a passage from King James Version, Revelation 3:10. So I looked it up also in my NIV bible and my Complete Jewish Study Bible. The NIV phrases it "...Since you have kept My command to endure patiently," and the Complete Jewish renders it, "Because you did obey My message about persevering."
I let the words go deep into my innermost heart, that I might understand the calling God is giving to each of us as the Day of His Coming gets closer and closer. And then I heard the Spirit speak again:
"Trust Me. Believe in Me. Do not doubt. Do not quit. Do not give up hope. See Me in the storm. See Me in the whirlwind. See Me in fire and snow and hail. Did you see Me in the line of people with hands joined in prayer in the midst of total destruction in Alabama? I interrupted complacency and roared into their lives until they came together to seek Me and find Me.
"Come, " they say, "let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the THIRD DAY He will restore us so that we may live in His Presence." (Hosea 6)
"To him who OVERCOMES I will give the right to eat of the Tree of Life (everlasting life in Yeshua) in the [restored] Garden of Eden. " Rev. 2:7
It all began to make sense, this powerful message the Lord was giving me in the pre-dawn hours. To overcome in tribulation and catastrophe, one must wait patiently for the Lord, endure through all that comes, trusting that He has purpose in it, and persevere, without losing hope or giving up.
I am reading a very powerful new book by my friend Joel Richardson, co-authored by Nathan Graves. The title is The Mystery of Catastrophe and I have decided it is probably the most important book we should all be reading in this time to understand why God allows these disasters and how He is working in the midst of them. Regarding the ultimate catastrophe of Noah's flood, Nathan writes, "God destroyed that He might save. God brought calamity to his beloved world so that one day it might see the fulfillment of His divine plan to save it. God saved Noah and his family to preserve the line of the coming Redeemer. We are part of this unfolding mystery of God to save the world and to fill it with His glory. Sometimes the very ones who endure the most hardship and severe testing are the ones most near and dear to the heart of God. It is because they are the faithful ones who can be entrusted with suffering, which in turn brings about a greater deliverance."
The very ones who endure...who persevere...who keep the word of His patience!
The picture of the long chain of neighbors on their street in the totally destroyed town of Beauregard, Alabama, hands clasped and heads bowed, was seared on my heart. Their response to catastrophe was surrendered prayer and the will to persevere. The Lord has torn them to pieces and the Lord will heal them. Blessed be the Name of the LORD!
Kelly Ferrari Mills