“…the first will end up last and the last will end up being first.”
Matthew 20:16 The Passion Translation (TPT)
This is hard. I don’t like being last and I don’t like waiting. I am impatient. It’s not that I think I am better than anyone so I should go first – I just hate wasting my time waiting in lines. The Lord knows this. I tell myself it’s kind of His fault – He made me this way. Well, not really…but, in all fairness, He did make me a ‘gett’er done’ kind of girl.
We were on our way back home to Vancouver, BC, from Bass Lake, California, and we decided to go to Redding, California, so we could join in the Sunday evening service at Bethel – a church we’ve always wanted to attend. I listen to Bill Johnson’s messages often and we love their worship.
When I did my research online I read there was a baptism service at 5 pm and the regular service started at 6 pm. I wanted to attend the baptism service as well. We arrived at the hotel at 3:20 pm, got unpacked and then were considering going for something to eat before we went to Bethel but I wanted to make sure I knew where it was and ensure we got a seat. We arrived at Bethel at 4:10 pm and one parking lot was already full. We stopped and asked a man where we could park and he pointed us in the direction we needed to go. We parked, walked to the church, and found a very long line-up that wound around the corner and back again. Little did we know Heidi Baker was the speaker that night. If we had not arrived when we did – thinking there was a baptism (which there wasn’t, it was just a baptism prep), we would not have even been able to get in the church.
We found our place at the back of the line next to a young man named Austin. We struck up a conversation with him and heard his story. Lovely young man. In my conversation just the day before my own son told me how it is hard to find like-minded young men his age who he can talk to about Jesus. He works at an addictions centre so his peers are much older than him and are more mentors than friends and the men his age are working through addictions. He expressed a desire for a friend his age to whom he could talk to. After hearing Austin’s story I instantly thought of my son and was able to connect them through Facebook.
The doors opened at 5 pm and it took us a long time to actually get into the sanctuary because we were quite far back in the line. When we did get into the sanctuary, it was packed and every seat was accounted for. People had saved numerous seats (which drives me nuts). We had to find a place to stand along the far side wall along with hundreds of other people. We had already been standing for 50 minutes so my knees were getting sore. I just wanted to sit down.
I decided to be content. I thanked God for His favor. I purposely kept a smile on my face and was humming Christmas hymns and praying for the service – all the while watching for an open seat…which there weren’t any. David also decided to be peaceful and he closed his eyes and prayed while standing.
There was one point while waiting that I asked David to ask the usher how long people could save seats and he didn’t want to. Then I got annoyed with him. Of course, my mind was saying things like, ‘good grief – can’t you even do this one little thing for me?’ My flesh is quick to respond. As the good book says, ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. I hate to admit it, but that is me…often.
There were a couple young ladies who had placed a sheet of paper on each of three seats. After standing for 45 minutes and no one claiming the seats, David asked them if they were saving the seats (hoping they’d give them up because their friends had still not arrived and it was 5 minutes before the service started). They were obviously uncomfortable when they told him they were saving them for some friends – who did show up 3 minutes before the service.
I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed, but I decided – we decided – to stay in peace and thank God we even made it into the sanctuary especially after travelling all that way to get there.
At 5:58 pm – two minutes before the service started – a man several rows over pointed to me and held up two fingers. I wasn’t sure he was motioning to me so I pointed to myself and gave him a questioning look. He nodded and held up 2 fingers again to which I nodded yes – a really big nod – greatly exaggerated to ensure he saw my response. He motioned for us to come to him. We moved quickly through the crowd and took our seats in the middle row, about 5 rows back from the front. We couldn’t have gotten a better seat even if we were able to get into the sanctuary first as the first 3 rows were reserved. We literally had just sat down in our new seats and the worship began.
The worship was wonderful, the message was life-changing and we had the opportunity to pray corporately for a little girl who had just passed away. The family was praying for her resurrection. It was powerful. The main take-away I received from Heidi’s message was, ‘you have no authority where you do not love’, or ‘you only have authority where you have love’.
Love is an action word. It is not passive.
It is hard. It goes against my flesh.
Walking (or standing) in love while standing for almost 2 hours and possibly 2 – 3 more, was not fun, nor easy. Walking in love toward a family member who is especially difficult is not fun, nor easy. Walking in love when you’ve lost a loved one is not fun, nor easy. Walking in love when your spouse won’t do a simple thing for you is not fun, nor easy. BUT God. My two favorite words. But God – He is able. I am blessed and highly favored. I have His Spirit in me so I am able to walk, or stand, in love.
Three things I learned:
- God knows where I need work and He loves me enough to help me work through my issues.
- God doesn’t put me in situations to test me – to see what I am made of (as if He doesn’t already know) but rather to show me what His Spirit in me is able to do through me and then to allow me to see His favor.
- The reward of waiting on God is far better than pushing to get things done myself.
- God puts us exactly where He wants us to be – at the right time and in the right place.