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September 5, 2020


“The Scriptures say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should earnestly desire him.” – James 4:5

It’s not uncommon for pastors to be feverishly slaving away on a Saturday, last minute, digging into the Scriptures and trying to find those gems that God wants to give to their congregation on the very next day. It can be strenuous, taxing, and even overwhelming, especially when you are crunched for time, simply tired, or want to be with your family who has gone to the beach. It is also easy for studying to Bible to become more of a task and routine, rather than an encounter with the Living God.

I remember one Saturday afternoon like that. I had been studying the text all day long and was coming up absolutely dry. I only had a title and a text for the next day’s worship service, just 18 hours away. I was getting worried. I begged God for inspiration. I looked at the text again, and again, and again. Nothing seemed to be coming. But then something happened that I’d never experienced before, and I’ve never forgotten since.

I heard a voice in my mind say, “Put down your notes. I just want to spend some time with you.” I immediately knew it was the Holy Spirit. So, I responded in my mind to Him, “But I’ve got to get an outline before tomorrow morning!” And the Holy Spirit responded again, “I’d just like to spend some time with you.”

It seemed completely paradoxical. I needed to “work” on this sermon. I didn’t have time for God! Oooops. There it was. I was more concerned about what I was going to say and what other people would think of me if I wasn’t prepared. And God said that it doesn’t start or end there, it starts and ends with Him.

So, I put down my notes, I put my computer to “sleep”, and just sat there. I listened. I thought. I was quiet. I quit my own efforts and let God take over. There were no great spiritual words spoken by either God or me. There was no cloud from the sky. There was no flash of light. There was no crying or laughing. There was virtually no emotion at all. I didn’t see any difference in my study room. And nothing really came to me about my text and topic for the next day. But there was this very clear sense that God was with me and wanted me to be quiet and be with Him.

After about an hour I felt pretty peaceful. I felt calm. But then I said, “But God, I still don’t have an outline for tomorrow!” And God replied, “Don’t worry about your outline, your notes, or what you are going to say tomorrow. I will be there for you.” And that was about it. I left my office and said, “OK God, whatever you say.” I took the rest of the evening off and just relaxed that God had said He would still be with me.

In the morning I didn’t get up extra early to scramble around and try to get my notes together. I just calmly went about my business, trusting in the Lord. Remarkably to me, but not remarkable to God, my sermon went quite well. And I heard God speaking through me with a tremendous sense of freedom I had rarely felt before.

Now, that conversation with God hasn’t happened exactly like that again. But ever since then I’ve been very aware that God is with me, with His peace, and that whatever is happening I can relax. And yes, I still have the occasionally frantic Saturdays while I try to get everything together. But there’s a new knowledge that God is more in charge than I had thought He was, and that I can rest in Him.

Thank you, Lord for your Holy Spirit who is a constant guide, counselor, and comforter, who desires so much to spend time with us. Amen.

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