I spent last week visiting lifelong friends who are pastors at Victory Fellowship in New Orleans. Their building is in Metairie on Airline Highway right next to the New Orleans Saints training facility; Budweiser Brewing Company flanks the other side of their property. The pastor likes to say this about the location of their sanctuary (built in 1989)–they were the first ‘saints training facility.’
We have a shared history with our friends in NOLA—my husband and I planted the seeds in a house church over 35 years ago that became the roots of their present day congregation. We also shared living space, kitchens and kids back in the day. And our son was born in New Orleans; it is a special place.
Before I left Seattle for this trip I was feeling pretty ‘meh’ in my spirit. I was looking forward to a refill of joy, a new touch from God. I’d felt for several weeks like I just couldn’t drum up any praise, couldn’t feel the presence of God the way I wanted to, the way I had many times before. Kind of stuck and stale.
I expected to be touched during worship at their church and was anticipating a fresh ‘drink from the river of God’ as Pastor P says. (It flows right from the front of their platform, I’m sure of it.) There’s a special anointing at their church that is hard to ignore, like power and peace hanging in the air all at once.
This time was no different.
I’m not sure when it happened—we had services in one building across the lake the night before and two services on this particular Sunday. I remember raising my hands during worship—loud praise, endless singing, and peace permeating the building. My eyes were closed and all of a sudden I was on the floor. (I know—kinda crazy.) But it happened………..and all I can say is I saw Jesus.
I saw Jesus in a completely new way. For many years I’d pray or worship, eyes closed, and wish (wonder) if I could really see His face. Shouldn’t He be right here? Why is my vision blocked? I want to see Him.
And I don’t know what happened this time—but there He was.
Here’s what I saw—Christ in front of me, palms inward, arms stretched wide, forming an arc that encompassed blazing light. In that light were all of us—the people who call Him Savior. And He was singing over us (more about that singing another time).
The look on his face was welcoming joy. I saw Him for the first time truly as the Friend He says He is….my friend, beckoning me to come to the Father and to His kingdom. I didn’t hear any words but sensed this message—“ It is a kingdom of joy”.
In the days that followed, every time I prayed, at a Bible Study, at lunch, in the hospital ministering with my friend, I could see Jesus. It was if we were simply dialoguing (and isn’t that what fellowship with Jesus is all about?).
I quickly realized my vision had changed—not my earthly sight, but the spiritual kind. My attitude and thoughts about my relationship with Jesus changed. It’s like I finally got the memo—I am his Beloved and I am welcome into His Kingdom. He has mysteries to share and joy to give.
Today I can see clearly—not because I have new eyes, but new vision–the kind that works with your eyes closed, to see the things are really real–like God’s kingdom and his river**
:I think I’ll be drinking for a long time:
**Ezekiel Chapter 47, Revelation 22.
Linking with Jen at Rich Faith Rising