Two weeks ago, I attended a day of the Holy Spirit Conference sponsored by Lutheran Renewal. It was 30 years ago, at the same conference, that I heard God’s call to become a pastor in the Lutheran church. I wondered what God would have to say this year.
I arrived at North Heights on Friday, in time for the 8:30 a.m. communion service. As soon as the preaching began, I was hooked. Pastor Harley Schmitt brought a word from the Lord: “God sets the solitary in family.” (Psalm 68:6).
Wow. That was wonderful! There’s a sense that, for the last year, I’ve been in the process of being orphaned. Not from my natural family mom and dad still love me unconditionally as they always have. But my spiritual family has changed in a dramatic way.
Many friends are moving on to other churches these days. I am, too. Last Sunday, Aug. 22, was my last as pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cokato.
Just before communion at the conference, we sang an Bill Gaither song: “I’m So Glad I’m a Part of the Family of God.” The song includes this verse:
“From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King
“No longer an outcast, a new song I can sing
“From rags to riches, from the weak to the strong
“I’m not worthy to be here but thank God I belong.”
That song is nothing special when it comes to the music, but the message was just what the doctor ordered. The tears flowed as I went to receive the Lord in communion that morning. Praise God for a church family that goes far beyond the local congregation. Praise God!
After communion, we heard the main presentation of the morning. It was given by Lutheran Renewal’s director, Paul Anderson. He began by saying God had given him a word for us. Not a comfortable word at all, but very fitting for this moment: “Jesus sometimes frustrates and confuses you on purpose.”
I continue to be thankful for that word. You might not think of that as good news, but when you’re dealing with confusion and frustration on a daily basis, it’s good to know God is in it!
Anderson explained how God tests us through times of frustration and disorientation so we become stronger and more useful as we participate in His loving work. The title of Anderson’ message? “This Is A Test”
It reminded me of First Peter 4:12-13: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when His glory is revealed.”
What a wonderful thing to know that God is ultimately in control, even when we find ourselves confused and alone! We may be surprised. We may be confused. But God is not! What Glory! Hallelujah and praise!
You can find more about this on my blog: www.equalsharing.com.