Something Weird from God

woman-825154_640Have you ever heard God impressing on you the need to do something
different?
something unexpected?
something you didn’t fully understand?
In June of 2011, I spent an intensive time in prayer
and during that time, God impressed on me an assignment:
visit every church I could visit in my community.
The assignment troubled me.
I wasn’t unhappy in my current church.
I wasn’t searching for something in my life – at least, I didn’t think I was.
I’m not a “church-hopper” and have no desire to be one.
 I don’t believe there’s such a thing as “the perfect church.”
So, at first, I ignored the prompt.
But I kept praying and it kept coming.
I argued a little – it couldn’t be something from Him. Why would He ask me to visit churches as though I was sampling.
I don’t do that.
I’m a serious Christian.
He kept nudging. He wouldn’t let go of it. Seriously. Fine. Maybe He means it.
So, I asked for a reason, a plan, something I could tell other people.
He was pretty clear I wouldn’t get that.
I think He mumbled something about my needing the experience of doing something without a plan, about learning to be unafraid of what people think when I go on assignment from God.
All right. He didn’t mumble. I heard Him loud and clear.
So, I grabbed the newspaper and made a list of area churches and their times of worship. I decided to journal about my experience of worship in each church so I could tell people I was visiting churches and writing about it.
I went to them all.
Catholic. Episcopalian. Lutheran. Methodist. Assemblies of God. Several flavors of Baptist – including Seventh Day Baptist (they meet conveniently on Saturdays so that week-end was a two-fer.)
I went to churches that utilize a liturgy and one that was so laid back, my son wondered quietly if they’d be passing a joint for communion. One church so full of suspenders and flannel, I dubbed it the “Bubba” church. Another largely comprised of people in their twenties – it was like they invented cool.
Several had gift baskets for visitors. In one church, I was greeted so vigorously, lovingly, and eagerly – received with such kindness and welcome, I went back the next week to encourage them. I almost joined just so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings. They were trying to hard and it moved me.
I visited churches with stone and stained glass and churches that met in abandoned grocery stores and movie theaters. Sometimes my family came with me but often I went alone. One church was filled with over 200 people. One service was attended by 12.
Some churches had praise teams with drums and guitars. One used an organ but the organist was sick so the meager congregation sang acapella. In one church, Jesus was a victorious rock star. In another, He was meek and humble, in love with the poor. I even visited the church I’d attended as a child.
Months passed and I was enriched by the experience. My understanding of the churches in the area was expanded. I developed a deeper compassion for all the men and women seeking God in my little community and their efforts to reach out in His name.
But I still had no idea why.
When, after a year, I grew weary and decided to stop visiting around, I wondered if I’d heard God right, after all.
In January 2012, I started a new job.
I serve families who are in trouble.
Part of my job is to ask if they have any spiritual needs. Have they ever attended a church? Are they interested in issues of faith?
It’s not a Christian program but we’re supposed to invite churches to partner with us in serving families and we’re encouraged to connect families with churches if they identify spiritual needs. I love that part.
My clients are scattered through twelve different towns.
My bosses marvel that I seem to have several church connections in every town.
They are amazed at what I know about the area churches and what they have to offer.
We’ve made unprecedented inroads in partnering with the community of faith in serving families in need.
Frequently, my bosses remark that it’s as if someone designed me for this job.
Someone did, I reply. Long before I had a clue what He was up to.
Have you ever heard God impressing on you the need to do something
different?
something unexpected?
something you didn’t fully understand?
Do it.


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32 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Wow, this is an amazing and super encouraging story! I love it, thanks for the reminder to listen carefully.
    Susie

  2. Love all your posts, Lori, but this one just blessed my socks off! Needed this reminder, I guess 🙂 Praying your Christmas was glorious, and your 2013 full of special gifts….. I know you’ll share you heart with us, and look forward to it! God bless you!
    Sharon

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  5. Daryl G says:

    What a great example that we don’t always have to know. We just have to trust in the one who does know.

  6. Thank you for this powerful reminder that the God of Genesis and Esther and Ruth and Luke and Romans and . . . continues to speak into the hearts and lives of mankind.

    And I notice the perfection of His sovereign timing as we look forward to a new year of growing closer to Him by His grace.

  7. Joanne Sher says:

    Okay – TOTALLY cool. This has happened to me before too – though not as extensively. So cool.

  8. Love this post and your obedience. Yaay, God!!

  9. Such divine grace that God allows all those strange and weird congregations just so we can feel at home somewhere.

  10. Pam Manners says:

    Lori,

    I continue to be overwhelmed by and grateful for your honesty and transparency in your posts, especially when it has to do with your being obedient to what God is moving you to do, and your struggle with it.

    In answer to your question (whether or not it was a rhetorical one), yes, I have heard God impressing on me to do something different. Actually, more difficult than different. Right now, there are two things, and I JUST DON’T WANT TO DO THEM!! I do not understand why He would call me to do these things. They are not grandiose plans (at least, not in my mind’s eye) Yet, I know I have to go through with this. If I say I love Him, then I need to be obedient. It may be some time before I see ‘results’ as you did. Or perhaps I may never. But no matter. Thanks for your encouragement, Lori. Such a timely message.

    Pam

  11. krex_1 says:

    very cool! We serve an awesome God!

  12. Margret Boyd says:

    Love, love, love this post, Lori! It has happened to me several times…including the beginning of 1994 when God asked me to scope out churches in the area. But He gave me a reason: it was to provide a list of possibilities for a sweet friend who’d been badly burned in church, needed the fellowship and was afraid to explore.

    “Take some time,” He said. “Scope out some churches for [ ] and let her know what you think of them. You know her needs and preferences, and this will bless her a lot. I’ll tell you when you’ve gone to enough of them and can return to your home church.”

    So, I did. Two months later I was released, even though my friend hadn’t committed to trying any of them out. “You’ve done what I asked you to do. It’s up to her now.”

    There were other benefits: it brought my then-boyfriend and I closer on a spiritual level, so much so that I had no problem saying, “Yes,” when he asked me to marry him (we recently celebrated our 18th anniversary).

    Keep writing and sharing, please. You are a blessing to us all!

    All of Heaven’s best,
    Margret

  13. How wonderful is God! Isn’t it amazing the lengths He will go through to minister to His children. What a blessing that you were faithful to hear and obey. Encourages me to listen and do what I hear.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Jean says:

    I did read the whole article, but I didn’t think I’d get far past “In June, 2011, I spent an intensive time in prayer. . . ” Oh, my. Okay. I’ll do it.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Cyn Rogalski says:

    Awesome Lori! It’s amazing what happens when we stop going/doing/trying and just listen and obey!

  16. This is such a beautiful sharing.

  17. Carla Femat says:

    Wow. That’s moving…following him, and obeying him , such a blessing. When I read your articles I feel like I’m there. You have a talent, a gift.

  18. Sandra Lovelace says:

    Thanks, Friend. It helps to have a context beyond my own. At times, clues appear but I’m still on the journey.