Friday night/Saturday morning, I had an unusual dream. I know that I had a radio going, and part of it was narrated by a preacher. But the dream, and its lesson, I believe, were a confirmation from God on something I was told by Him the night before.
The dream was one like many others I have- I am someplace, I want to go to another place, but every step changes the "playing field", making it harder. Eventually, doing what seemed impossible to me, and scared the daylights out of me, I was at the point where a guide had taken my hand and was going to pull me up to safety...
...when something was said, relating to my sinful self, and I went sliding back down to pretty much where I started. But now, though I knew the way thanks to my Guide, I was back down there again with someone just like me- drawn by the same sin I had been. (This is going to be VERY allegorical.) But then someone gave us these suits- I guess costumes would be a better word. They looked to me like big fluffy dog suits, but as I watched my fellow put his on, I realized it was actually a lamb suit. I realized that the path I had to go had been made hard because I was doing it on my own; that it only took a word, the merest hint, to send me crashing down again. I realized that the lamb suit was a symbol of obedience- and obedience that at first made me feel like I was nothing but a dog (sorry, Scrappy), when in fact I was a sheep, to be led and protected by a Good Shepherd.
And as I realized that, I slipped the sheep-suit on- and the door to where I was going, such an arduous, fearful climb but a moment before, was now GROUND LEVEL. We looked at each other in amazement and relief, and walked forward. And at that very moment, I woke up, paused to ponder- because I will forget a dream if I don't replay it a couple of times- and when I finished, the next voice I heard was Tony Evans saying that God "already did the work," that through obedience " we walk IN the work", and that with God in charge, we can set aside our worries because "Even when we're snoozin', He's still working."
End of part one. Part two is one of those, "You know God's leading up to something when" deals. All this week, it seems every preacher I listen to has been talking about the book of Nehemiah. Now that book is the story of a Jewish expat in Persia just after the Jews were allowed to return from their exile in Babylon. Nehemiah, the king Xerxes' cupbearer, was contacted by some visitors from the returning Jews who told him they were in a miserable state. They were in a ruined city, and nobody had the will or resources to make it right. He did.... but it wasn't overnight. He prayed over the situation and planned for FOUR MONTHS before even going to the king with his requests and plan. But from that point, though every plot twist in the book was thrown at them, the work was done with God's blessing. Moral of that story, a lot of time and prayer was taken before things even got started, but once they did, it was a blessing to all.
End of Part Two. Part Three started with a news article I stumbled onto Friday night:
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Sunday was absolutely a day of celebration at Heal The Land Outreach Ministries – just days after the pastor of the church managed to defuse a situation involving a gunman at the church...
Around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Pastor Larry Wright, who is also a Fayetteville city councilman, was in the middle of sharing his New Year’s Eve sermon with about 60 people in the church. He soon noticed a man enter the sanctuary, holding a rifle in the air. Wright says he immediately left the podium and confronted the stranger.
“He said, ‘I came here with some terrible things on my mind, I was going to do some bad things,’” Wright told WNCN. Wright says you could feel the panic in the air. Church members started screaming, others were running straight for the door. “I was very scared I had my granddaughter with me and I just automatically grabbed her and braced her head so if any bullets would fly, I’d get the bullets and not my granddaughter,” said Janice Johnson, a church member.
Wright says the man calmly shared he’d been previously hurt by the church, recently released from prison and was also a veteran.
He then asked for prayers.
Wright took the gun away and called for other men to come and embrace the suspect.
“When I told the congregation, ‘It’s OK, he wants prayer,’ and I began to pray for him. And the power of God hit and he fell to his knees and began to cry and weep and he had his face on the ground,” Wright said.
After praying, the man sat down and listened to the rest of Wright’s sermon. Wright says the man then apologized to the congregation and professed his faith in Christ.
“God stepped in and he moved on that young man’s heart and instead of him shooting and killing a whole lot of people, God touched his heart,” Pastor Wright said.
After the service, the man was led away by police.
Police say the man involved in this incident has not been charged. He’s now receiving treatment at a local facility.
And as I finished, I felt God saying, "Here Is where I have applied Project IS's prayers." And a warm- actually hot- feeling swept over me.
I was humbled.
When I started Project IS, the intention was to turn one poor lost soul each day over to the Lord, that at the brink of his fall into extremist brainwashing, he would be rescued by God. And God, in His time, heard OUR prayers- mine and all of you that have been praying with me. And whether or not He has willed to save others we may never know, but I know now that we helped in saving THIS ONE MAN, and that congregation.
(Let it sink in a moment. WE helped in this.)
We have been obedient, respecting Jesus' call to gather even in two or threes. We have prayed, and prayed with a plan. And the result might not been EXACTLY what we intended- indeed, we don't know it hasn't- but it was a good result, a blessed result, And at the very least, that ONE soul, trembling on the brink, God saved.
Good job, everyone! You are AWESOME! And you serve an AWESOME GOD!
Thus, from now on, the "IS" in Project IS is gonna stand for something more. When Nehemiah was getting that wall built, their enemies were ready to pounce on them, to stop it in mid-birth. But they got scared off when they saw armed men, men who had worked all day, standing in the breaches that remained. From now on, the "IS" will stand for "I STAND." Because God has shown that there are people trembling on the brink in a LOT of places, over a LOT of abysses. And God has a much grander plan for our prayers, beyond our limited ability to conceive.
Neh 9:5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.