Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ekklesia this morning

Matt 18:20 "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

I work as a courier for a hospital, and my work schedule includes a few hours on Sunday mornings. Having had a wonderful time of prayer on the road this morning, I was now done with my work and I was headed out of the hospital to go home. Looking down a long hallway, I caught a brief glimpse of a man who works in Housekeeping, as he disappeared down another hallway. I've stopped to chat with this man now and then, but I can't say we know each other really well. I'm not sure how old he is, but I'd guess he's got 15 or 20 years on me. Long story short, I yelled "Hey!" down the hall, and he popped his head back and the two of us walked towards each other and started talking.

At first, it was just talk about "nothing." But it's amazing how the Lord sets things up. (That's a huge understatement). Even though my plan was to get home, the Lord had other plans. My friend started talking about how a lot of people work full time at the hospital and also have another part time job. I mentioned that up until about a year ago, I had worked two jobs, and my other job was at a Christian radio station. His eyes lit up and his ears perked up, and we talked a tiny bit about what it was like to work in Christian radio. From there, he then began to share with me that he had composed some lyrics to a song, and it was completely from his heart, and he has a dream to find someone to put music to it and maybe even to sing it himself in front of people or to have a professional singer or band record it. We talked about this for quite a while, and he even pulled me aside and got out the paper on which he had written the lyrics and he began to sing the song to me. He said he had asked the Lord to give him the song, and that he had written it while walking the halls of the hospital, where he's seen much pain and suffering, but also a lot of hope. I could tell it was from deep within his heart.

All of this was exciting, in and of itself, just to hear this man - who I really don't know all that well - share his heart like that. But then he began to share even more from his heart and I began to see how the Lord had orchestrated this entire get-together. There were two things in particular that I'd like to share. First, he started talking about how he really, really wished he could "be in church" on Sunday mornings. He feels so bad that he has to work two jobs to make ends meet, and that it means he has to be at work on a Sunday morning. I listened to him and then I spoke up and I motioned back and forth between me and him as I said, "You and me, right here - This is 'church.' Where two or more are gathered, there Jesus is - right in the midst of us." I also shared that as we go about our jobs, each and every day, even if we want to be home with our families or 'in church' or doing something else, we're living and moving and having our being in Christ ALL the time! He's in us and we're in Him. He's got it all worked out, and we can just leave it to Him to do what He wants to do with our lives, even if it doesn't fit into some ideal "model."

The "church approved" model or formula for how life and "church" should work did not apply today! It was quite the opposite. If not for me and my friend both working on a Sunday morning, this "ekklesia" never would have happened! Two men "gathering together" to share life in the Lord. I told him we never would have planned this! But God did. I also commented that I would bet that real church (ekklesia) probably happens like this more often like this than any other way. Perhaps unplanned. Usually informal. Etc. Anyway, I really think my friend was encouraged as he openly shared his heart and as I shared with him, and I know I was greatly encouraged too.

The second thing about our meeting this morning was that as my friend was sharing his heart with me, a lot of what he said paralleled a lot of what I had been praying about just 30 to 45 minutes earlier! I mean, some of the exact or near-exact phrases that he used were the phrases I had used as I was praying. This not only confirmed to me that the Lord had arranged this meeting, but it also lifted some weights off of me in other ways too.

You know how sometimes, or maybe often, you don't see how the Lord is working in your life? You have dreams and desires, and you wonder if and how they will ever be fulfilled. I'm sure Abraham went through a lot of that during the many, many years that passed between time the Lord promised him a son and the time it actually happened. Apart from God's grace, we may even be like Abraham in trying to fulfill His call in our own ways. It can be confusing and wearisome at times. You wonder if something you've done has really been your own fleshly attempt at making God's plan work out, or you wonder if perhaps some sin is keeping God's plan from coming to fruition. But then out of the blue, in ways we could never plan nor orchestrate, the Lord comes and refreshes us and gives us fresh hope and confirms that He is faithful to fulfill the work that He began in us.

I can't say that I've been feeling "frustrated" lately about His call on my life (although I've definitely been there plenty of times), but rather I've been prayerful and contemplative. My conversation with God this morning out on the road was a handing over of my dreams to Him, and this "chance" encounter that He set up was a very refreshing confirmation of His faithfulness to complete any and all work that He's begun, whether it's seen or unseen.

Prov 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Same passage from the Message:
Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.

Prov 20:24
How can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps.


  1. Joel--

    What a neat story. We have certainly limited God in our modern day definitions of 'church' haven't we? How awesome that He won't be boxed in.

    This past week, I was deeply discouraged, and without hope of getting much help from 'church'. Then my two good friends talked me into getting together with them. Over spaghetti and brownies, they heard my heart, told me how God had used me in their lives, and, before the night was over, had me laughing harder than I have in weeks.

    In that gathering I was refreshed in my faith and reminded of God's love. Surely, Christ was in our midst.

    Thanks for the great thoughts--
    Kathy J

  2. Yep I think it's amazing what can happen when we get out our prepackaged view of how things need to be done, and open ourselves up to seeing our lives in the Lord in a 24/7 aspect, knowing that He is in us and we are in Him all the time, and He's always in the midst of us whenever and wherever we are "gathered" together. :)

    I'm glad to hear you were refreshed this past week. I know things have been difficult for you and I pray that you will continue to be refreshed in the Lord through personal fellowship with Him and with others.