"Oh no ... not again!" For the third Sunday in a row, right in the middle of the message, I felt the overwhelming urge to stand. There was no reason I knew of – it seemed quite insane actually. Each time, I thought it could be the Holy Spirit, but instead concluded it was insanity, and refused. This time, a wave of trembling heat flowed through my body. My heart raced – pounded. I wondered if people next to me could hear the thumping of my terrified heart. “No! Not now! Not here!” I silently argued. “Everyone would see! And what then? Just stand there like an idiot for no reason? I’ll disrupt the service, interrupt, distract everyone … no. It’s rude and crazy and I’m not doing it!” That was the third and final time I refused. After the service, I knew in my heart it had been the Holy Spirit, and I had refused Him.
The next day I began to apologize to God for disobeying, but before I knew it I was making excuses.
"I’m sorry … but I really didn’t see the point. What was the reason? What was I supposed to say? I would have looked like an idiot! A complete fool!” Gently, Jesus spoke to my heart, “I was a fool for you.”
Tears fell. Suddenly it didn’t matter at all what anyone thought. Now what I’d been asked to do seemed tiny – miniscule – atom size.
Two weeks later, each Sunday passed without the ‘urge’. My chance had passed.
One evening, driving alone in my car, I prayed. “Lord, I’m so sorry I disobeyed. Please give me another opportunity to obey you. Please don’t give up on me. I’ll obey! … well, I mean … I’ll try. I really want to obey. Please give me another chance.” Almost instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Okay, stop the car.”
My heart jumped, and I pulled into the next driveway. It happened to be a local park. Our silent conversation went something like,
“Okay, now what?”
“Get out of the car.” I got out and stood on the grass.
“What do you see?” I saw children on swings with dads pushing them, I saw people going for walks. I saw grass, trees and sky.
“I don’t get it.” There were no other words. I just stood in silence, waiting. I was drawn toward the ditch, so walked over. I stood there in the long, lush grass and watched a small stream of water that was so still it looked like glass. It reflected trees and sky. Suddenly it hit me – Psalm 23. My God had just led me to still waters and green pasture!
I recited what I knew of the psalm quietly to myself as tears streamed. “The Lord is my Shepherd … He leads me by still waters and green pastures…. He restores my soul.”
“...He restores my soul.”
That day I received a promise from my Jesus. Even though I fail, disobey, and fear others more than God, He restores my soul.
With that hearty dose of grace, I drove home ready to obey – ready to serve wholeheartedly the One who loves me so much despite what I do. (or don't do)
What an awesome God.
(interesting side note: a few weeks later, the City dug out and paved the bottom of that ditch. Everything in God's timing...)