A couple of hours ago, Roberta and I came home from one of the district meetings for Pastors. They call this one “Intermission.” I think the name ties to some meaning about how it is supposed to come about midway between district council or something. This is the second time that we have gone, and second time that we have loved it. This year Mark Batterson (author of “Primal” and “In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day) was the keynote speaker and he knocked it out of the park!
Though I enjoyed seeing friends (that I see slightly more than annually), and meeting new people, the real interesting thing for me was to note the difference in Roberta and I from last year to this year. I remember last year we were sitting in a friend’s hotel room and we were asked how life was treating us. Tears flowed, as we recounted heartbreak, frustrations and discouragement. It seemed as though life was just about as bad as it can get and there was no end in sight. The only hope that we had was that we were supposed to meet with someone who may or may not have be interested in possibly hiring us. We were broken.
Little did we know that life would get worse before it got better. Over the course of that year, we faced possible financial ruin as the tenant in our house decided to stop paying rent, we would have yet another miscarriage, our friends on staff with us only be there for a couple more months, and more. Over the course of the year we threatened God that we would quit ministry, and pretty much gave up on ourselves. Through it all, we continued to encourage one another and took turns holding each other up.
Fast forward one year. We arrive at Intermission having just served the last day at our (now) former church and spent a day and a half with our new staff talking about the vision and direction of the church and our ministries for the next year and beyond. Roberta and I show up at Intermission joyful what God has brought us through and feeling like we are on the other side of it.
God has a way of taking things that were meant for evil and using them for his purpose. Take a look at the book of Esther. Haman hated Mordecai so much that he built a gallows specifically to hang Mordecai on. Then, the put together a diabolical plot to destroy all of Mordecai’s people (Jews). God took that situation and turned it for the good. He used Esther to sway the King’s opinion and persuade him to protect the Jewish people. The King came love the Jewish people because they were important to his queen, Esther. And those gallows built to kill Mordecai? Haman himself was hung there.
I’m not saying that there were people out to get us, and certainly Intermission last year was not a plot against us, but it was meant to inspire and encourage us, and it did. Those situations that we went through last year only served to make us stronger. We learned that God truly is on our side. Because God is for us, nothing could stand against us. When the enemy has a plan to destroy us, God has a greater plan to save us. We learned that no matter how bleak any circumstance may seem, God is walking there with us.
I also recall a story in the book of Daniel. Daniel prayed for something for a long time and did not receive an answer. Eventually, and angel came from God with the answer. He explained, the answer was immediately given, however, I was caught up in delivering it. I’ve always assumed that it was because he was in battle or otherwise delayed by some diabolical scheme. There may be another explanation. The point is, when you are crying out to God for something, don’t be discouraged when the answer does not come. Keep crying out, keep praying, keep going, because God has the answer. If you give up, you may miss out on the blessing.