Asking for Shalom
One could write (or read) a manual on church planting and ministry. There are plenty of good ones out there. But here we are telling the journey of a church planting family (and yes, this is a family endeavor) with play by play accounts of the road less travelled that we walk upon. A husband and wife that love each other (but also have our differences). Six kids. Impoverished neighborhood. House churches. Lots of prayer. LOTS of prayer. LOTS of prayer.
As we have launched this new blog, documenting the journey, you have not entered the “story” with flying reports of mass conversions, but rather of the brokenness of a mom wrestling with her calling as a mother. “Wait a second. (you may say), I thought this was about church planting”. What does brokenness in a mother have to do with church planting.
For you see, we have embarked with a God-sized vision for community transformation and restoration, that starts in the tiny microcosm of the home. It was the picture burned on our hearts, and confirmed by our training. But what happens when the vision we have for others, is actually unraveling right before us?
It was the purpose of the three week fast that we were inviting some of our neighbors into.
Scheduled to start shortly after my convicting encounter, we hosted a pot-luck (our first Shalom meeting) in our home to talk and pray through the upcoming prayer time. Danny wrote up an incredible prayer guide. (click here if you would like to download it and use it for your own community prayers). We were READY.
But I had no idea, that what started as a praying for peace for my neighborhood, would actually bring me, personally, into a direct encounter with the Prince of Peace.
It was going to be “one of those days” with schedules to coordinate, places to be, jobs to get done. My mind was zooming with all the pieces of the day I was anticipating. In addition to the “too much to jam into one day” schedule were the ever-present mental criticisms “you better hurry up and get xyz done…you never manage your time well anyways. You’re probably going to be late to pick this person up…you always are. And you really should make it to that meeting….if you want to connect with people in your community, which you’ve been slacking on lately….and on it went”
Battling the thoughts, (and panic) I went to squeeze in a quick work out/prayer time at the YMCA (can we say THANK YOU, childcare?!? And THANK YOU, husband, who has mandated that I do this at least 2x a week)
I had just finished praying through Power of a Praying Parent concerning a sound mind-Dutifully praying, and quoting scripture over each member of my household’s mind.
I scooted down to take a shower (pretty sure I hadn’t taken one in three days) in the shower room.
And that is when it happened.
I had just finished locking the door and setting my stuff out when all of a sudden a huge presence came down behind me, directly from above. It was like a huge strong mighty angel, and I felt, for the first time in a long time, this inner rest set in. I started crying, and saying “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. You’re here. You’re really here.”
At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was an angel, or him directly, but I knew immediately that he was strong, and big and he had swords in his hand and every flitting, zooming thought of panic, pressure, condemnation, and stress that tried to get near my mind were being instantly cut down by His strong arms.
After a few minutes of basking in His presence, I sank to my knees and felt his gentle prompting to re-open my prayer book, and read one Scripture out loud as if it were His Voice speaking it to me.
“I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ” 2 Timothy 1:7
and with each reading of it over, and over again, it was as if the darkness that had clouded my heart, and lingered from the difficult pregnancy and the postpartum depression was being punched back.
And then he did it.
He did the exact thing that a prayer warrior had prayed and envisioned over me, just a week prior “Honey, God’s going to give you a new wardrobe.”
As I lay there on my face, I felt Him place this thick, warm cloak over me.
A depth of inner peace flooded my soul.
It was Shalom.
The Shalom I had been asking for.
I lay there, never wanting to get up, never wanting to leave it, never wanting to leave this moment.
“Lord, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay right here with you. But I have to go to Costco, and to the doctors, and to the meeting, and to pick kids up from school and….”
“You don’t have to.”
He told me.
“You don’t have to leave this cloak. It is My Presence. You will stay connected as you keep listening to my still small voice in your ear. I will go with you. You must just listen.”
So I took my shower. And my spirit was quiet.
And I asked him, “Do I rush home and try to make it to that meeting or do I go to Costco like I need to?”
“Go to Costco.” he whispered.
So I picked up my boys and delighted in them.
Because HE was with me.
And we did our shopping and enjoyed our time.
Because HE was with me.
And we ran our errands and I was patient with carseat buckling, and little meltdowns.
Because HE was with me.
And when followed up with the meeting that I had intended to go to, it turned out that there was an awesome turn out and they even ran out of supplies and space and I didn’t really “need” to be there in the first place.
And I rejoiced in His guidance, because He KNEW ahead of time, and what could have been a source of stress and rushing and impatience with my little ones, was taken OFF the agenda, simply because I LISTENED and obeyed.
The Prince of Peace had gone before me.
He causes Shalom in one’s heart. And our ears are connected to our hearts.
And Shalom only happens when both are open.
The cloak, it still remains, although it grows fainter, when I rush ahead of His presence. I step out of the cloak, and lose the Shalom, when my mind races ahead to all the details and all the logistics and all the worries ahead of me, instead of falling back, resting into, stilling my heart to hear what His Presence is saying.
I have been relieved of an enormous responsibility.
God, who put all the stars in their places and has been sustaining the entire universe for all of time, is perfectly able to manage my schedule. He is able to coordinate the details and events that lie before me. My only job, my only job, is to listen to Him in the present, obey the promptings, yield to the empowerings, and trust him for all the rest.
With new understanding I look at my Prince of Peace’s words to: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus’ yoke on earth was that of listening to the Father, and obeying His promptings. And it is the same yoke he places on church planters and pastors. And the same yoke he places on mothers. And the same yoke he places on CEO’s, and teachers, and grocery clerks. And as we work and do His bidding in the context in which He has placed us, we experience Peace. True Shalom. For the peace we long for is not connected to an external set of circumstances, but rather, our peace is connected to our connectedness to His Presence…the Presence of the Prince of Peace.
This is how lives change. This is how communities change. This is the “how-to” manual on life, and church planting and mothering. We had been asking, in our fast, for Shalom.
And He has answered.
**stay tuned for updates on what has transpired as a result of this encounter.