And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV)
It was a Friday night. A friend was supposed to go to this evening talk, but suddenly became unavailable due to work. The evening talk featured a well-known Christian pastor and author, whose published books I haven’t read save for one. She asks me if would take her place. I said, “Yeah, sure!” since I had nothing else to do and nowhere else to go that night. I got her ticket, went to the venue, and, yes, it was rush hour. I had to push my way through to be able to get in, and get out.
The venue of the event was a church. People were lining up to register, and — hey! They were giving out free books! Not bad. People were all smiling, chatting, and laughing while waiting for the doors to open. There were familiar faces, too, friends from campus, a handful of known local celebrities, who seemed to be excited to hear what this pastor-slash-author had to say.
The doors were finally opened. People started looking for a comfortable spot, while I was still wondering my purpose for being there. With all the discomfort and unease I’ve gone through commuting, I wondered at what God would teach me that evening.
The lights dimmed, and there on the stage shined the spotlight. An overly energetic emcee comes up the stage, cracking jokes to lighten up the mood. He succeeded just a bit.
I wanted to hear what was going to be said. I had to fight all the distractions happening around me. At last, the pastor was introduced.
With all eyes on him, he walked up unimposingly. He dressed plainly: a T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of slippers. He honored his roles: a husband, a father to seven kids, and a pastor to Cornerstone Community Church in California.
He entered the room with a nonchalant smile. He started his talk with a sigh. He tells the audience of the real struggle of not knowing what to share to a people whose culture and humor he barely knows. He tells them that, while waiting backstage, he was asking God what He wanted him to say.
Pastor Francis Chan spoke about numerous things: about being aware of what we hear, about daring to challenge the norm, and about not settling for what’s popular.
It was ironic, because he was so popular and yet it helped drive his point: Return to God! Stay close with Him amid this world of appearances and experience! Live in His reality because He is our reality.
With all the things he shared, what stood out to me that night were his prayers:
“God, stir something in us. Guide us. May You be honored. May You Be worshipped. Would people think of the power and name of Jesus. When people pray to You, fire comes out of heaven, seas part, the earth shakes, armies fall, the most amazing miracles happen! Can we get a taste of that tonight? Grace us with Your presence and power. Purify us by Your word. We worship You tonight. You are holy and good. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Such boldness, such intimacy, such reverence. This was something that I always need to hear and grasp and fight for: the reality of God – who He is and what He is doing.
And in closing, he uttered a short prayer,
“Lord, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, make us doers of the Word. We’ve talked enough. We’ve listened enough. Make us Doers of the Word now in Jesus’ name, amen.”
It is a prayer inviting God to show who He is, in us and through us, unafraid because the prayer is prayed in the name of Jesus. It is a prayer inviting God to have His way. It asks His gentle whispers to do its work in the hearts and lives of believers amid the busyness of life.
Those prayers still resound today.
Writer’s Bio: Majar Sabio, a child of God who reflects the Father’s love to the community. Also, a fan of coffee, and of deadliest deadlines. URL/Website: https://notoriouslyhuman.wordpress.com/