(The following is based on a true event that happened to one of our church elders. May all the glory be to God!)
I accelerated my Ford Escort onto the freeway entrance ramp and entered the flow of traffic. It was Friday evening and it had been a long week at work. Time to head home and relax.
As I settled in with the freeway crowd I thought I heard a still, small voice: “Go to church and pray.” Hmmm… was this God talking to me? A lot was happening at church. We were in a time of spiritual upheaval and, in response, the church leadership had proclaimed a week of prayer, fasting and repentance. Regular services and ministries were put on hold and classes were temporarily suspended. It was a somber and earnest time to seek the Lord’s face and our church building was open 24/7 for prayer.
I was now an elder as well. Me? An elder? It felt kind of strange. “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears,” said the apostle Paul. I could relate. I have felt both humbled and inadequate to the point of contemplating whether I should resign. Yet, other times in the same 24-hour period I would find myself praising God for bringing me to this position of honor and service.
Being appointed an elder had brought about unexpected and surprising heightened spiritual awareness. As I walked into church one Sunday, for example, I began to notice small details for the very first time. They were the mundane kind of things: the holes in the blacktop in the driveway needed fixing. There were scrapes on the walls and a paper towel on the floor. The new carpet jumped out at me in a way I had never noticed before. I found myself examining the faces of the people exiting the church from the first service. Were their needs met today? As an elder I now no longer assumed someone else would take care of people or things. I was learning that I was that someone else and I was taking ownership of my church.
The still, small voice again interrupted my thoughts. “Go to church and pray.” Acts 11:22 mentions the “ears of the church.” I could disregard the gentle prompting or choose to listen and do what I was told. I had been endeavoring of late to obey what I thought the Lord was telling me to do, so I took the first exit ramp, turned the car around and headed toward church.
As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed the car was becoming increasingly difficult to steer. Odd. I parked the car and went into the sanctuary to pray. About 30 minutes later, as I was walking to the car, I looked around to see if there was anything noticeably wrong with it that would have caused the tough steering a half an hour earlier.
When I inspected the front tires my heart leapt into my throat and I was momentarily gripped with fear. The wheels were literally pointing in opposite directions! I saw the tie rod that connects the wheels collapsed and lying on the ground. I knew what would have surely happened if I had chosen not to be the ears of my church. I knew the serious ramifications if I had turned a deaf ear and instead continued to drive the 30 miles at freeway speeds. A broken tie rod does not allow steering of a two-ton vehicle.
“You shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth,” says Job. 5: 22. Daniel was not hurt because God shut the lions’ mouths. God delivered David from Goliath, the Philistine giant. Divine deliverance from a beast of the earth, a steel beast of the earth, was mine as well.