name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: August 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oaks of Righteousness

"They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor." --Isaiah 61:3b

I spent this past week at a Student Life Youth Camp in Waco, TX. It was a week of blessings mixed with surprises, heartbreak, and victories. I am still unravelling everything I saw, heard, felt, and learned but one experience stands out above all others.

It was the last evening of camp. Our group of 100 + youth and leaders had joined the other 1,200 campers for worship. The music was loud. The auditorium was cold. I began to feel very ill and wanted nothing more than to leave. There was just one problem. I was sitting on the far side of the aisle. Leaving meant I would have to climb over 10-15 people just as the speaker was reaching a pivotal point in his talk -- the invitation.

So, I sat in my seat; miserable and trying to convince myself I was ok. All around me were youth and adults with heads bowed in prayer. It was impossible for me to concentrate. My only concern was heading for the exit as soon as an opportunity presented itself.

Young people began to stand up in response to the invitation to give their lives to Christ. The speaker asked leaders to make their way towards those who had said, "yes" to Christ. I took advantage of the moment and bolted for the back of the auditorium.

Just as I reached the big double doors the Holy Spirit stopped me and said,

Turn around.

My mind and my body rebelled at the thought of staying. But I turned around, walked back toward the crowd, and stood behind the section of seats filled with our campers.

I had a perfect view of our group. My attention was captured by five young men (junior high age), near the back, who were standing without a leader. Just as I wondered if I should go stand with them, I saw a big, athletic, high school student making his way towards the group. It was hard not to notice him; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

I watched as he positioned himself in the middle of those boys. He stretched his broad arms across their shoulders and every one of them leaned into him. Five boys and they all fit underneath the umbrella of his embrace. They remained that way while the speaker prayed. It was a powerful image.

The speaker encouraged those who still needed more prayer time to lead their groups towards the back of the auditorium. The young man gathered his group and led them to a spot just a few feet away from me. They huddled in a circle of prayer.

I sensed the Holy Spirit again,

Place your hand on his back and pray for him as he prays for his group.

I did so, all the while rejoicing at the opportunity to witness such an incredible moment.

The speaker issued a new invitation. Anyone who wished to rededicate their lives to Christ, who wished to recommit to study and prayer and relationship with the Lord...would they please raise their hands. He asked the remaining leaders to pray for those standing.

The young man who had just prayed for the five new believers raised his hand. I was the only adult, from our group, nearby.

Now I understand why You told me to stay, Lord.

Just minutes earlier, this young man had provided spiritual covering for those who had declared their faith for the first time. Now I was the one being called to provide a covering for him. I placed my hand on his shoulder and prayed words supplied by the Holy Spirit. It was a holy, holy moment.

When I was finished, he gave me a hug of thanks and headed back to his seat. Surprisingly, I no longer felt the need to leave the auditorium. I stayed in the back and celebrated what had just taken place.

The picture of the boys huddled under their leader's outstretched arms remained vivid in my mind.

Isaiah 61:3b speaks of oaks of righteousness, planted by the Lord, for His splendor. That is what I witnessed this past week and it was a glorious sight to see.

As believers, we have been planted for the purpose of displaying His splendor not our own. And, each and every time we stretch out our faith and extend ourselves on behalf of another, we bring Him glory.

You are an amazing God! You are mighty in strength. Your glory is beyond compare. Forgive me for all the times I have gone my own way; missing the opportunity to serve You and display Your glory. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a spirit that is willing to obey. In Jesus' powerful name, Amen.