As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.I Samuel 17:48-50
Almost 20 years ago, a young man named Scott (now my husband) moved to the UK for a time and found himself on the docks of Liverpool. He was beginning his journey to faith searching for something MORE and there on the dock, as a 19 year old, saw a vision of himself in a vicar’s collar (- seriously strange for someone with no upbringing of church at all … am I right?). He scribbled down this image and tucked it away. This moment held an iridescent glow in his memory and became something quite significant in both of our lives many years later. I wonder if you might stop to consider, right now and only for the briefest moment, if you have any memories like this in your life too … moments in time that ring loudly in your ears, even today? Memories that glow and seem unrealistically poignant? Grab a piece of paper or open your notes app and scribble it down, let the words rest comfortably next to you as you continue to read.
During the exact same year as Scott’s vision on the docks, back on the sunny continent of Australia, I came back to the Lord after 5 years of choosing autonomy for myself: He (almost audibly) called out my name that day and embraced me after ‘waiting at the gate’ so very patiently. My external life didn’t magically improve so much, however my internal life began its journey of transformation. Very soon after this, I jumped head first into serving God in all areas of my life and actually a vicious cycle of trying to work for my salvation began … I was doing instead of being, gathering crowds instead of building disciples, speaking instead of listening, and living for church as a construct and organism instead of committing to the triune God. In all honesty, I was not able to love others as I loved myself (Matthew 22:39) because I still didn’t fully understand myself. Just three years after that powerful salvation moment I found myself exhausted beyond belief and burned out.
The final iridescent moment that I feel compelled to share today occurred within the first five years of my marriage to Scott. Anyone who has experienced this moment in their life will say it remains in their memory as clear as day … That moment when a specialist sits on one side of a large desk, and kindly advises you of some bad news is never something one can forget. For us it went a little like this: “I’ve been reviewing your results and I am sorry to say that having a baby is not possible for you. Actually, even IVF would be a stretch, I really am so sorry!” Six years of believing for a miracle and hoping for a change, knowing God IS able to move mountains and part waters and raise a rotting corpse to life again … yet not for us? Call it crazy, or another step of surrender to God, but we did go on the IVF journey and, just as the doctor implied, the initial experience was utterly heartbreaking, to say the least.
It was there, at the very lowest point in my life to date … at the exact moment we finished our first full round of ‘failed’ IVF that Scott passed his probationary period of pastoring and was officially ordained. At the ordination service, Scott stood on the stage, on February 21, 2015 and, being filled with the Spirit, announced the very worst thing in my mind: “One day soon, I will stand on this stage holding a son.” Please do not get me wrong here. I was utterly ecstatic for him and his ordination and knew this was God, but that faith statement was just … mean! The pain vomited out of me in the most unflattering way: big, ugly, loud, real, honest, and painful tears … right there for all to see, in the front row of our church, with a national leader ordaining my husband. As a result of what followed, I hear the words of Mordecai to Esther ring loudly in my ears as I write today … “And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion.” (Esther 4:14, AMPC)
After the service, I sat at the front of the auditorium and just stared into space. I remember Scott checking on me, but it was foggy because while the whole world was moving around me. My entire person was submerged in the cement-like feeling of grief. An elder in our church sat next to me that day, and though all other conversations were a blur, this one was weighted and real, as clear as if I was sharing with you in person today. What she shared that day gave such meaning to the years of pain and heartache, and to the purposes of God for my life. She shared the very word from God I needed to hear – it was His call, as clear as anything in the deepest parts of me, and it was those words that led to our decision as a family to sell everything we owned and move back to the place where it all started: Liverpool, UK. Within two years of that conversation we moved faithfully to Liverpool with just three suitcases and – yes, believe it or not! – a one-year old little boy named Elijah.
Our story does not make sense in the natural really, but that is often the way of the Lord. Though there are many variables that I could include, it was Scott as an unsaved teenager seeing a strange picture of himself in a vicar’s collar, and then God using a six-year brutal fertility battle and one single conversation with an elder, that completely changed my heart for “what breaks His.” I surrendered to God that day and have done so many times since. Consequently, I am certain of one thing: the principal of surrendering is a lifetime journey for us all, if we are willing to accept it. He works so intimately and uniquely with each of us … and that surrendering principle, therefore, looks different for each of us too. I wonder, in your reflection, if you can articulate moments of surrender you have made for Him, or perhaps there is an area of your life that you are struggling to release? I feel compelled, yet again, to encourage a time of consideration here … What is God reminding you of, and saying to you today?
In I Samuel 17, we also see a miraculous story that makes little to no sense in the natural. A young shepherd boy, with no battle training at all (apart from a miraculous encounter with a lion and a bear) chose to:
- Disregard the fear and sentiment of an entire army of Israelite warriors (verse 24).
- Disregard the rage in his brother’s sharp words, saying he was but a lowly shepherd boy, immature, overly confident and ultimately a distraction (verse 28);
- Disregard the honour of being gifted the kings armour (verse 38) to fight a giant, ‘unprotected’ in a natural sense.
Though there was a season of preparation, where he repositioned himself, redressed himself in supernatural armour (that fit him well) and stepped out to face the giant assured, this little shepherd boy saw victory for an entire nation in one moment (verse 9). It is possible for you to see victory today too!
In a similar way, I speak prophetically now, as I see an army of shepherds across our globe, in a season of preparation, taking time to remove bulky unnecessary and heavy armour and redressing in armour that fits right, and moving into position – ultimately finding utter confidence in their supernatural station in a way that defies every natural limitation and doubt. I see everyday people, side by side, with the weapons of the Apostle, the Prophet, the Evangelist, the Shepherd and the Teacher. I see nurses and pilots, businessmen and businesswomen, cleaners, educators, instructors and administrators to name a few. People who actually look unique but are a united army of individuals, wielding armour nonetheless (Ephesians 6:10-18). I see an army celebrating, championing and edifying the unique weapons in their own hands, and that this same weaponry is used to protect and edify those beside them! The power of this repositioned army is utterly tangible … Can you feel it too? (Write it down … Go on, believe with me!)
Hopefully, this moment with a cup of tea, pen and paper and your thoughts has afforded a time of reflection, for more than ever I see the importance of a reflection and action cycle urgently necessary in our fast, globalised and highly stimulating world. Perhaps it is time to understand those illuminated God-interventions, or to begin to articulate what God was and is moulding in you during great hardship. Perhaps He is calling you to reposition, or to get alongside your brothers- and sisters-in-arms in a deeper, more intentional way. Perhaps now is the moment to take off Saul’s bulky armour and to reflect on what weaponry He has actually forged … just for you. In the end, it is actually not my place to say, for it is the Holy Spirit who is at work in you, so take a moment with Him. He will draw to your attention the aspects that are of importance to you, for such a time as this. John said it so plainly …
“... The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”John 14:26, NIV
Dear reader, what is He saying, teaching and reminding you, today?
2 thoughts on “His Call, Our Answer”
Thank you Rachel for this helpful, thoughtful and provocative post! Timely.
rich and inspiring