In 2017 I stood in line for an hour and a half, waiting for a willing camp speaker to give me a word from the Holy Spirit. It’s always interesting to see what happens when a perfect stranger prophesies over you because they have nothing to work with ahead of time. Sometimes you get something spot on and sometimes you get something generic. As I stood in line I asked God to be bold with me. On this particular night, I didn’t care if the word was intense or targeted a specific part of my life I didn’t want to hear about—I just wanted a word.
So what was the word I ended up getting? “It is very important that you have the faith to push through when other people say there’s no way. You need a Caleb-like faith.”
On a scale of generic to specific, I felt like this word leaned toward generic—except for that part about Caleb (whoever he was). I looked him up in my Bible and saw that he was one of the spies that discovered that Israel was up against Nephilim giants in the holy land. With this revelation many Israelites wanted to run away, but Caleb stepped forward in faith, knowing that God could win the battle.
This was a good word, but like I said, it was also kind of generic. For that reason, my initial journal notes weren’t very invested in it: “This word felt unhelpful to me, but I bet it’s a church thing. Which means some hardship is probably about to come up.”
Arrested Development Narrator Voice: “It did.”
One year later our church would begin advertising the new Dinner Church model we’d be launching. This transition came about for a number of reasons and it would require quite a bit of faith to get it to work. There was financial risk and investment. There was the need for the whole church to work as a body and for everyone to volunteer. There was the fear that congregants wouldn’t join in the switch from our standard morning church service to an evening dinner church service. After many failed experiments over the years, there was the fear that this one wouldn’t stick either. And, of course, there was the fear that “Dinner Church” wasn’t even the right thing to switch to. But we pushed forward in faith, lost almost no one in the transition, and hit triple digits in attendees within two years (something that had never happened in the previous eight years).
I wish I could say it was an untarnished success story, but Dinner Church has not recovered since the pandemic hit. Starting this week, we’re letting our dinners go on break for the summer so we can meet with the Holy Spirit and ask what’s next and press forward with faith, knowing that he has provided before and that he can provide again. When the fall comes around, maybe we’ll be relaunching Dinner Church in its usual form or maybe God will take us a different direction. Whatever the case, we need to be faithful to what we hear and then walk into it with both a knowing and unknowing.
Abraham himself had to walk with God in this way. He had a surreal experience where God appeared to him and told him to leave his extended family behind and go to the land that God would show him. Due to the nature of a spiritual being appearing to him, he knew the reality of what he had to do, but he didn’t know where he was going or why he was doing it. He had to walk by faith and not by sight in order for God to reveal the rest of the journey to him. May we walk in such faith too.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Acts 7:1-15 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.