Tonight I heard a sermon by Miss Jennifer Jack, a wonderful woman of God who has impacted my life more than she knows. I had not heard Miss Jack preach since the 1980’s. Her testimony that I heard in these years has remained one of the top ten influences upon my life, if you can easily number such things. As I listened all these years ago to her give testimony to the Lord’s work in her life, she had used a phrase about “shutting the back door” on sin. That shook me then, 35 years ago or thereabouts, and shakes me still. It is powerful imagery that exposes the secrets of the heart.
The title of the sermon I heard tonight, was taken from the title of a book, “One Divine Moment,” a book which I have never read, which apparently details the history of a Revival. Miss Jack talked about Calvary, talked about the Resurrection, talked about Pentecost, as well as other moments from Scripture as being divine moments where everything changed. Each time she mentioned a phrase to do with what God could do in a moment, when we are touched by the power of the now Resurrected Christ, I physically felt the anointing of the Spirit come upon me. I had not intended to be at the meeting but decided to go at the last moment. Morag, my wife had a conviction that I was to go as well. I needed to hear that recurring phrase. The anointing of God, the witness of the Spirit internally and even physically upon my body, indicated to me that this truth of a divine moment that changes everything was something God wanted to draw to my attention, to really take note of. I felt I wanted to draw it to your attention to.
I could not do full justice to the wonderful teaching the whole sermon contained, but on the drive back home afterwards, I was mulling things over. I think we have become so used to emphasising the “journey” side of being a Christian that we have almost forgotten what Christ can do in a moment. I was remembering a couple of pastoral visits years ago when I had prayed with people: Something similar happened to the individuals concerned on these two particular occasions . Well, I say I was praying with them, but I never actually got to do that! Before praying, I gave a sort of “hedging my bets” talk! That is not very spiritual language, but effectively that was what I was doing, as I went into an explanation about how God sometimes answers immediately, sometimes there is delay, sometimes He answers in another way than what we were expecting…YAWN! I have given that talk so often I am bored with it myself! Was there wisdom and truth in what I was saying? Yes, there was, along with pastoral care too having seen the damage that comes to those who are promised before prayer that a lot is going to happen “Right Now” and hasn’t. However on these two particualr occasions when I was giving this preamble, God stepped in and did something, there and then, suddenly! My “hedging my bets” wisdom was interrupted by the people having to meekly listen to it all saying to me, “Something is happening to me, right now!”
As I was nearing the end of the drive home tonight, I also started to think about a time when I was talking to my congregation in an after-meeting at church about a touch of God’s Spirit that I and two other members of the congregation had unexpectedly received, almost against our better judgement! I felt the experience was to be shared in some sense. At the after-meeting, we worshipped, I talked, we worshipped some more, I talked some more, we then sang… you could not call it worship any longer! Having begun in the Spirit we were wearily trying to continue in the flesh! I heard God say, “You are just singing, because you are afraid if you pray for these people now, nothing will happen.” Well, surprise, surprise, He was right! He had read my mail, which seems to be the “in” phrase these days… when did “Has the post been yet” become “Has the mail arrived”? The mysteries of life! Well, whatever, we stopped the “singing” and prayed. Immediately there was evidence of God moving. One divine moment! The “Suddenly” of God! It ushered in a period of real blessing.
I hope you are not so wedded to the truth that there is a journeying involved in being a Christian, that you have almost excluded the idea that God can indeed meet you suddenly and what He does in a moment can change everything. Godfrey Birtill, who has written many wonderfully prophetic songs that carry the Lord’s presence, including one with the opening line, “The ‘Suddenly of God.’” I love that line! Be open to the possibility of God interrupting you: interrupting your preaching, your praying, your talking, your long wait, your long journey in the one God glorifying direction you have set your face and your feet to walk in, with His “Suddenly.”
Just an after thought… it may be that you have adopted the long sweep in approach in your personal witnessing in the hope that the mills of God will grind away slowly and the person at some distant point will perhaps become a fellow believer. Be alert to the “Suddenly” of God, the “One divine Moment” moment, in that setting too. There can come a moment in time when you sense that Christ is there in a palpable way. That can be the moment to say to someone you have been witnessing to, praying for, “You could become a Christian RIGHT NOW!” Sometimes, people are almost waiting for a signal from the person speaking to them about Christ that such a thing is possible. Be empathetic and aware of the pause in the conversation that seems to be full of the presence of the Risen Saviour who has drawn near and is ready to pick up His lost sheep and carry them home rejoicing! Rejoice with Him and with the angels in heaven who seem to be eagerly looking out for such moments to come along, for when these moments arrive, they are a signal that sounds throughout heaven, announcing loudly, clearly, joyfully, “It’s party time!”