Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"As One" - Pray for Scotland

Remember Jesus’ story where the certain man prepared a great banquet and sent out the invitations? The guests come out with excuses why they can’t attend, yes? And the servants are sent to collect the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame from the streets and alleys?

I got an invitation to a prayer meeting on Monday.  It was organised by “Pray for Scotland”. A member of the team had a picture of a shield.  The Romans used a ‘shield’ formation where they would stand together and click shields, front, back and sides.  The soldiers in the middle would hold their shields above their heads and the whole group would be shielded from the enemy’s arrow. , To get them into at formation the Roman Officer would say ‘As One!’ The formation was only as good as the unity demonstrated by the soldiers.  It was a powerful image and a shield was made and the group took the shield on a tour of Scotland, encouraging churches to pray together calling on God to give help to the nation of Scotland.

Back to the invitation. I hadn’t just bought a field, or a pair of oxen that I need to try out. I haven’t just got married either. I had, however, had a long day, ending in a series of meetings that stretched into early evening. Then came my list – I was tired, very tired. It was raining. Finding a parking space near enough to the venue was going to be tough. There were interesting programmes on the TV and a pile of ironing.

“I’m going,” said God. 

I’m a sucker for the presence of God. If He was going, then I was going too. When God went to prayer meetings extraordinary things happened and I didn’t want to miss out on any of His extraordinary things. I had enough time to slam something into the microwave before heading off.

The shield was there – a lovely piece of workmanship, but also a focus to remind us of what we were doing and why.

Worship was led by a trio of musicians – a guitarist, a violin player and a cellist. They created a wonderful atmosphere for worship taking a Celtic theme of music and song. Awesome stuff.  Very stirring.

God was sitting next to me.

“Remember those days when the church did times of refreshing?” He said.

It was a phase we went through.  The midweek meeting moved out of people’s homes and into the local community centre. There was no structure to the meeting – just a man, or woman, with a guitar and a few chord sequences and the church people standing, or sitting, or kneeling, or lying flat on the floor – whatever a person felt led to do. We sang. We prayed. We danced. We wept. We laughed – as the Spirit directed.

“Remember you, in those meetings?

I was always near the front and I was always there, in the presence of God.  Most times I could have been in an empty room for all I noticed what others were doing.

“I saw you then.  Where are you now?”

At the forefront of my mind over the last few weeks has been my application for voluntary redundancy. I’m a couple of years off retirement. I think of myself as not young any longer and I suppose I have clothed myself in an older person’s mind set. Worship has become quiet serenity rather than wild dancing.

God left the seat and headed to a bit of empty space in the room, nodding his head for me to follow. I unravelled the scarf from around my neck and together we began to find the flag-waver in me.

I had a sense of the throne room of God, much the same as what Isaiah saw.  I just had a sense of it. I didn’t see it. It was just a sense of it. In Isaiah 6 he was there.  He saw the seraphim and heard them calling to one another and had the hot coal placed on his tongue. My sense was as if my heart had been ripped out of me and thrown into the fire. I had a sense of it catching fire, being retrieved – this burning object – and placed back inside of me. It was just a sense of it. I wasn’t there in the throne room.

“Better now, are we?” said God.

And I was.

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