Thanks for the continued prayers, support, emails and messages. I continue to know the grace and strength of God – although the throat continues to feel very sore. That being said, I definitely feel better today than I did yesterday. Debbie and I went out for a little while today, which was great – and very amusing as I was communicating with her via a little notebook and pen. I’m sure the people watching us in the couple of shops we went to thought we were a bit unusual! Still taking strong painkillers and being very careful – but I am improving daily.
As promised, I took time today to pray for all those who are part of the Chapel and Warham. Couldn’t sleep so well, so I woke at around 4am and prayed silently for many of you, and have had the chance to make sure that I prayed for each of you by now. What a blessing – to be able to ask God to strengthen and help and support you as you walk with him. I’ve really enjoyed it, and today has felt like a long, relaxed and intimate conversation with a very, very dear friend. I’ve sensed a real feeling of intimacy with God today – being able to relax and listen to Him in a different way.
I woke up this morning thinking of the verse ‘Cast all your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you’ and have been able to cast not only my cares for myself and my family, but also my cares for all of you as your pastor. I feel such an amazing sense of being able to lift each of you before the Lord, and a real release in praise for you. It is strange you know – at the time of greatest external quiet in my life, I feel like I could explore with praise and thanks to God for all that he is and all that He has done for us a His people. I may not be able to sing or speak physically, but in my heart there are a thousand melodies playing at once – and streams of words and thoughts and thanks flowing to God for each of you. Today I have been remembering some of the great times that God has given us together – moments when I have felt that I could almost reach out and touch Him as we have listened to His word together or sung our worship to Him as communities. I have a real conviction that He has many more blessings and times of intimacy to give us as we seek His face and put Him at the heart of all that we do and all that we are.
I’ve decided that tomorrow I am going to pray for marriages – for husbands and wives. So if you have a partner who has not yet come to faith, or your marriage is struggling, or there are real challenges you are facing as a couple, be assured of my prayers for you tomorrow. May you know a strengthening of your marriage and your relationship.
Whatever you may be facing, be assured of my prayers for you and my love for you. May the God of peace guard and keep you with His peace now and every day.
What an amazing privielge to be given this time by the Lord to be able to pray for you all, and to stand in the gap for you.
Standing in the gap.
A friend asked me yesterday what ‘standing in the gap’ actually means. Well, I guess it means standing in a place that others cannot stand, on their behalf. From Aaron and Hur standing in the gap for Moses, to the people of Jerusalem standing in the gap when Nehemiah was overseeing the building of the city wall of Jersualem, ‘standing in the gap’ involves lifting up the hands of those who are weary from all their own effort and work, and helping them to press on with all that God has for them. When Moses was exhausted, Aaron and Hur held his arms up. They helped him, they supported him and they stood by him. They enabled Moses to do what only he could do – by doing what they could do. The same is true of the people who guarded the ‘low places’ in the wall in Jerusalem. I guess the conceptis very similar to that of an intercessor in the New Testament – standing before God on behalf of others, that they might be all that God wants them to be.
Of course the greatest example of that is Jesus – who literally stands in the gap for us now. He prays for us, he holds us before His father. And on the cross he occupied the space between the seen and the unseen, between heaven and earth. Jesus life and ministry also show that ‘standing in the gap’ is both a practical and a spiritual thing. He held the two together in perfect balance. Serving and meeting the needs of those around him, but also praying and bringing people before God.
In many ways, the meals you have provided for us, the cards and the calls are just as much ‘standing in the gap;’ for us as our prayers are now for you. We need each other in this journey of faith and there are times when one is stronger than the other, then there are other times when the roles are reversed. Being part of a church family means that you have to learn not only to stand in the gap for others but also let them stand in the gap for you.
So thank you to all who have stood for us and with us – we also stand with you. And together, we progress toward that which God is making us become – more and more like Christ.
In the silence of these moments, heaven is being stormed for you. Cries of petition are rising that you might catch a fresh glimpse of the shimmering wonder of the God who intimately knows you, gently rebukes you a dn lovingly remakes you. May you feel the rustle of a carpenters robe in the early morning, and hear the footsteps of a friend as he walks beside you. As you face each day, may you have a sense that you do now face it alone, but instead may you know, just for a moment, that someone has gone before you, to make the way, to smooth the mountains and to raise the valleys. When you hit a storm, may you feel the strong hand of God on the tiller, steadying your vessel. When you feel alone, may a bird singing or a gentle breeze remind you that God has not left. When you stare into the darkness, may you catch the glimmer of a light that reminds you that nothing will ever extingusih the love of God or the grace of God in your life. As you lift your questions, heartbreaks and yearnings to the Lord, may you realise afresh that you are being held in the hands of the answer – and that this is the safest place for you to be.
Speak to you all tomorrow.