The week before Thanksgiving, a group of women at Houston’s First Baptist Church finished the Preoccupied with Promise study. That evening, I made my way to class, still early, but later than I usually arrive. I was happy to hear nothing but quiet in the halls, hoping I would still have ample time to set up before my precious new friends I had grown to love over the past six weeks arrived. As I peered through the door, it wasn’t just the absence of people that surprised me, but the absence of chairs…and tables! Not only was I late, but the room was not ready? Oh, no. Now this just goes to show how fast thoughts can fly in our heads because by the time I actually walked into the room, I saw plenty of chairs and tables. They were just pushed to the middle of not one, like normal, but two big rooms. I carried my bags and papers to the front of the room to begin unloading. Papers on the tabletop, bookmarks laid out, stack of handouts, props (you guys know I love my props), notes….
A stunning silence came over my heart. Almost like one would had I actually FORGOTTEN my notes, but this was a special stunning, a spectacular stunning. I remembered writing at the top of my notes how I planned to begin the evening. I planned to share with the women how the Jewish people used to walk in one door to worship and walk out an entirely different door to symbolize they were leaving changed. I planned to tell the women that we would pretend the door we walk out of tonight is a different door than the one we walked in because we were walking out on our last night with new perspective. God had surely shown up, shown off and surprised us with the amount of His love over the past few weeks. We didn’t just read about Him; we individually experienced Him. I say this with confidence because I know that was His intention, not to mention He graciously let me in on some of these encounters as several of you shared with me what God allowed you to individually unwrap and embrace. This was our time to walk out–not empty handed, but actually with the gift. We learned that we could go from “if you only knew the gift of God” to taking it home with us, back to the bleak circumstances, back to the good circumstances, back to the unknown, back to the known to make it richer, and back into “town.”
And now we could. We literally could. We began our study by imaging an easel with a dreamy blue, velvet tapestry covering it. And Someone who loved us dearly was about to dramatically disclose what He had for us on the other side. A sweet revelation. A veil removed on so many levels, as further outlined in 2 Corinthians 3:15-17. And that night, our last night together–a literal partition was removed. So we had two rooms. So we had not one door, but two. We had a second door to walk out of, miraculously.
I can’t help but feel God link it to what I’ve been reading lately in John 10. Verses 2-3 tell us, “The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” He made a way for us over 2,000 years ago, and He is still making a way, calling us out by name and leading us from there.
The last few weeks of our study focused on the tangible takeaways, having actual experiences with God…and now this. This night, He surprised me. And I thought I had all of the surprises written down in my notes to pass on. Don’t ever think He’s done surprising you. He is that good.
You are invited…The Preoccupied with Promise series is beginning again for six Wednesday nights starting January 31st, 6:30-8p.m at Houston’s First Baptist Church.
Photo taken at Stillwaters Ranch