When last I blogged, I described my winter sun feeling. Actually, the lack of feeling as the very bright day star was all-kinds-of-seen but not-at-all felt through the frigid air. I likened my spiritual state to that; aware of God’s reality but not feeling his presence.
During the last week of Advent, God graced me with multiple personal encounters. The One who was bright yet distant gave warmth as He leaned in close.
The first divine touch came in the wee hours while I slept. It wasn’t a dream or vision, but a joyful push into prayer. I was in the physical peace of a good sleep but aware as though awake of pouring out my prayer list – the one I’d been having to grind through in previous weeks. There in the dark I easily and thankfully prayed for my family, for church people and ministries, for the variety of concerns expressed to me by others, for the pained world and for all kinds of other intentions that filled my consciousness even as my body remained at rest.
This was the work of the Holy Spirit, a sudden grace that went beyond the promise of Romans 8:26, as the Spirit now gave me the words to pray and the power to offer them. (I should note that the devil retaliated the next night with a barrage of hellish nightmares – which only served to confirm that the night of prayer was from God and a defeat for the evil one’s agenda).
A second divine touch was experienced as a spectacular Christmas gift. On December 22nd, late in the day, I received a call offering me a position for which I’d interviewed the week before. There’s much to say but I’ll try to be brief: the new position frees up my Sundays so I can return to in-person worship, it allows me to put God-given pastoral gifts back into service and it better provides for family needs in terms of weekly schedule and compensation.
It is a transfer within the medical system in which I currently work. I’ll be serving as a Bereavement Coordinator, reaching out to families over the first year after the death of a loved one in Hospice care.
The hand of God was felt well before it reached out with this gift. I was moved one night, in the midst of a number of frustrating job searches, to take a look at the medical system’s job listings. I saw this position and thought, “Not only can I do this, I want to do this.” I put in an application that night, and the next day discovered that the position was no longer listed – I was the last applicant into the process and would have missed the opportunity had I put off applying that night.
The Spirit opened my eyes to the wonderful wave of prayer carrying me in the job search. My wife, my pastor and members of the local church, bishops and people around the wider church, friends and family near and far, inmates at a correctional institution in another state and people who in passing knew my efforts and anxiety were praying for me not just to get a job, but to find the right job through which to offer my gifts.
One Sunday I was able to listen in on the online service from my local church. During the prayers of the people, a brother in Christ prayed aloud for me and the job search. It is hard to describe the power of that moment… God’s people calling out to Him to let me be with them again. The presence of God in his people warmed me.
I start the new position on January 9th. On January 1st, I have the holiday off from my current job and will actually celebrate Holy Communion for the local church that’s helped and prayed for my job search and my return to the Lord’s Day with them.
There’s much more in my head and heart but I’ll save it for another time. It is enough to say here that I am thankful for the blessings I’ve been receiving and aware of in such abundance. And to acknowledge that a season I perceived as dark and cold was full of divine light and warmth – even when I couldn’t feel it.
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