I am continually amazed at the way God uses different things in creative ways and in purposeful ways. Those who are familiar with the story of Jonah in the Old Testament know that God used a storm at sea to put Jonah back on track even while Jonah was trying to run from God by booking passage on a ship going in the opposite direction. Whether God just used it or specifically caused it, it really doesn’t matter; he used the storm to get Jonah back on the right path.
On January 27th, much of Iowa awoke to ice, ice that made travel difficult and dangerous. The Iowa State Patrol was highly recommending people stay home. Due to the weather, many churches cancelled services for that morning, First Baptist of Fort Dodge included.
Here is how God used that ice storm to redirect me. Early that following week, it was my intention to just preach the sermon I had prepared for January 27th on February 3. However, God was having none of that plan; he had other ideas. Somewhere between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, through a couple of sources, God made me realize he had something different he wanted to say. So, through a few conversations between him and me, he communicated to me what that was. It was a refocusing on why he had us journeying through Acts – specifically, exploring questions around our identity as the people of God and how that makes us different than those who are not of this people. (We have been looking at the legacy of the church to answer these questions; hence the journey through Acts.)
Connected with other aspects of that morning’s worship, it was a powerful experience. God talked to us about 4 identifying characteristics of his people: prophetic, priestly, temple of the Holy Spirit and possession of the mind of Christ. (If you want to listen to the sermon, you can find it here: http://pastorjim86.podomatic.com/entry/2013-02-05T06_44_32-08_00.) We also had a couple of different opportunities to participate in being the people of God for each other.
So, this week, I intended to use the sermon that I had prepared for January 27th (I mean, why waste a sermon, right?), but as I was reviewing it and the passage upon which it was based, God made me realize that these sermons had become more and more academic in nature as the weeks have passed. They have not been as directly connected to us as he desired. They were becoming more history lessons with a moral rather than God’s personal message to and for us. That was not the case with this past Sunday. So, God’s message from that text is being re-crafted to much more reflect and speak to our identifying characteristics as God’s people.
And I am finding this to be an exhilarating experience. And it’s because he redirected me and this is causing me to go deeper into his character and desires and ours as his people, deeper than I have ever been before.
Amazing how he can use an ice storm.