Urbana/IHOP Reflections: My Good Shepherd

After a week of being in a spiritual bubble of some sorts, I admit that it is pretty hard to re-enter into the real world. My time at Urbana09 and the International House of Prayer this past week was so rich and filled with people and God’s presence. As I return, I realize that I must hold in my heart all that God has shown me and challenged me to do.

One thing I experienced this week was the richness of continually being attentive to the presence of God. From day zero of Urbana, I just had the innate sense that God was with me and leading me every step of the way. Through the words he spoke to me to the people he brought to me to minister to, He was reminding me truly that He was my shepherd. That the Holy Spirit is really living and active, waiting for me to be attentive to Him so that He could lead. Every step of the way, I gave my full attention to what the Holy Spirit was doing and continually asked what He had for me. And I just remember this sense of peace and energy I had all week. I wasn’t worried about what I was doing. I didn’t overly exert myself to pray for people or try to listen to God on their behalf, but was girded with the steady truth that His Spirit was guiding my path. I didn’t strive or push, but just allowed the Spirit to gently guide and pursue me through the week.

On the morning of my last full day, I woke up at 4 am. No alarm or anything, I just woke up and was fully awake. If you know me, you know that this is an extremely rare occurrence for me. I remember laying there, frustrated that I couldn’t go back to sleep, but just feeling this gentle peace around me that His presence was with me.

I asked Him what He wanted me to do, and I just heard a gentle invitation to join Him in the lobby of the hotel. This seemed to ridiculous to me. It was 4 am! What was I going to do for 4 hours while I was down there! But I remembered an image that one of my ministry partners had for me the morning before while praying. She saw an image of Harry Potter grabbing onto Dumbledore’s while he apparated (teleported) with Harry for the first time. And as I remembered this word, I saw an image in my mind’s eye of Dumbledore’s hand reach toward me. God was trying to get my attention.

So I got out of bed. I took my time as I showered and got ready for the day. I headed down to the lobby around 5 am wondering what God had in store for me. Maybe I would meet a stranger and I would heal him and lead him to faith… or even better maybe he would become my donor (it should be the other way around huh?) I was tempted to play out all the scenarios, but I just kept feeling this peace around me that God had something good for me.

I got downstairs. There was no one in the lobby. I tried opening my laptop, but it was out of batteries. I guess that’s not what I was doing down there. And so I took out a book I had been reading called The Good and Beautiful God. I hadn’t picked it up for a few weeks so I had no idea where I was in it.  When I opened to where I was in the book, the author invited me to slowly meditate over Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…

As I read this Scripture slowly I relished over each word of the text as I reflected on my morning. Never before had this familiar text come so alive for me as I thought about how my Good Shepherd had been leading me all week during Urbana and how He had awaken me that morning to reveal to me His guidance and goodness. Truly I was living in the reality of this Psalm.

I didn’t heal anyone or get to share the gospel, but instead spent the morning reading and reflecting. After that I had a nice breakfast and met some nice people, enjoying every moment of it with the reminder that His Presence was with me. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. What a gift it was! Thank you Abba.

So now as I sit here struggling with the sense of being alone once again, I am reminded that truly the Lord is with me. He guides my steps and is extremely thoughtful in the ways He leads me. I surround my loneliness in the truth that His presence is always with me. I give up my anxiety about the future remembering that as the Lord so specifically led me that morning, He continues to lead me today, and will continue to lead me tomorrow.  Thank you Good Shepherd :o).

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