Several months ago, my family got to vacation a few days in San Diego. We had a blast just visiting the not-so-touristy places. We stopped off for a while at a secluded reserve center where we let the kids buy something in the gift shop. Michael got some rubber frogs, Dani and Chris got stuffies, and Catherine bought a beautiful stone egg. With everyone content with their newly acquired gifts, we continued our time in San Diego.
The next morning at breakfast in the hotel, the kids brought their gifts to the dining area with them. You can probably guess what happened. Catherine’s egg rolled off the table and dropped onto the cement floor. The impact split the stone in half. Just a moment earlier, she was the happy owner of a beautiful stone. Now she walked over to me holding the shattered remains in her cupped hands. I was crushed for her.
That image came back to me this weekend in Vista (near San Diego). Mark, Barb, Deb and I had a chance to join several other missional community leaders for an informal gathering. You can see Charlie Wear’s summary here.
Why did the image of Catherine’s shattered egg come to mind? Because God met me during a gentle, yet powerful ministry time. In the quietness of prayer and through a couple of “prophetic” phrases whispered in my ear, God answered a question surging in my heart, “God, are you still there?”
Okay, I know the theological answer to that question. But over the years as a pastor, I’ve learned that question usually emerges from an person’s woundedness. Now, as the words formed in my mind, I realized they were flowing from my woundedness. I was the shattered egg in God’s cupped hands.
And then God came.
As I stood in silence wrestling with my brokenness, two men came over to me and prayed for me. Through them, God’s Spirit whispered, encouraged and healed a little bit more of me. In only a matter of minutes, God answered my question with his presence. He spoke two phrases that bore to the depths of who I am.
That moment reminded me of a passage that God has been using to soothe the anxiety and brokenness in me:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
I’m learning that I don’t have to be ashamed of my hurt. It’s not something I wallow in, but I’m aware it’s there. And I’m aware that God is healing me as well.
Jason and Brooke, thanks for making the weekend possible. You guys were the hands and heart of the Lord. Also, thank you to the guys who prayed for me and lifted me to our Father when I needed it. And for everyone who joined in, thanks for being real, authentic, and loving. It’s wonderful serving in the kingdom with you.