One of the favourite hymns of our church is the old classic ‘I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.’ Somehow the wonder it conveys never fails to capture us and we love singing this.
Today, I can’t find any other words to express how I feel. I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. When we actually see answers to prayer, it leaves us astounded and amazed, shaking our heads in wonder. Perhaps we shouldn’t feel so surprised, but there is just something so awe-inspiring about seeing God work personally in ways that are beyond our comprehension and absolutely and definitely beyond our ability!
This has been a year of upheaval and change for many people. We started the year with a month of prayer and fasting, prayer-walking the streets of Goldthorpe. I had no idea how that month would change my life. It just seemed like a good idea at the time!
God’s word to me on 13th January (‘The Journey’) set me on a journey, just like Abraham. It was a word which caused me to re-evaluate my whole life and consider leaving the security and joy of a job I’d treasured for fourteen years, to set off, like the disciples and like Abraham before him, on a journey whose destination was pretty much unknown. That didn’t seem a very sensible or logical thing to do, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this was a God-idea, not one of mine. I don’t do radical or change. I’m the kind of person that has to be shaken loose from positions. I was about to discover that God is very capable of shaking!
In April, Mark preached on the ‘Dream Cross Code’ , a sermon that gave new heart to me, for after taking the radical step to resign from my job (and being vastly encouraged by a whole army of friends who didn’t seem to doubt my sanity anywhere near as much as I did!), no one had applied for my job and I was full of questions and doubt. In that sermon, apart from forcibly reminding me that God didn’t need my help to sort out the situation (which was a good thing since I didn’t know anyone else who could do the job!), Mark said that God ‘moves heaven and earth to make His plans for us come to pass.’
I sat and pondered that for a long time. It seemed an almost presumptuous statement to me. I realised that I believed in God’s sovereignty in an academic and totally theoretical way, but wasn’t at all convinced that that applied to me. Did God really care for me enough to move all the pieces of the jigsaw to allow me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was His idea, not mine? Did I really think that God cared enough to not only provide for me but for the school as well? I always used to love balancing chemical equations at school and I desperately wanted to see God do this in this situation. I hate loose ends; I didn’t feel I could just walk away from the job unless I could rest easy knowing that someone else was doing the stuff that had always been so important to me.
The weeks went by and all other advertised posts were filled. There was no sign of even one applicant for my job. That was a time of great soul-searching and, at times, great doubt for me. I needed every scrap of encouragement from God’s word that I could find. My walls are covered with every one I found: 2 Chron 20:17 TNIV, 2 Cor 1:20 TNIV, Hab 2:3 TNIV. Quotes, song lyrics and Bible verses adorn the walls of my house as daily reminders of God’s faithfulness, but the waiting period still seemed interminable.
And then, during the sixth week of the school holidays, when I was resigned to continuing and wondering when God would ever deliver me (you can see why that song ‘Deliver Me’ became my staple diet during July and August), a lady walked into the building who today has just been appointed to do my job. And I am awed. She is a native French speaker. She is part of the leadership of a local Elim church. She is about my age. She and her husband got married on exactly the same day in the same year that I did.
That last part has just completely blown me away. When God answers prayer, He doesn’t do it by halves! He doesn’t do the kind of ‘bodge job’ I often end up having to do because something comes up that I hadn’t anticipated. He is always totally and utterly prepared, always ready, able to move people all over the world (from Congo to Belgium to Cambridge to London to Barnsley!) to make things work. The God who enabled Sarah and Abraham to have a son after years of infertility, the God who rescued Joseph from prison so that he could work to save the nations from famine, the God who worked in a heathen king, Cyrus, to allow His people back to their own land after exile… that God is working in our lives too. Mark was right. God is still moving the puzzle pieces of our lives around to make His plans come to pass. And when we catch just a glimpse of His answers, we are awed, because not only does He supply, but He puts the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the bun, the extra bits that maybe weren’t strictly necessary, but boy! do they make it taste good!
I stand amazed. There just aren’t the words to express how I feel. But if He can do this for me, He can surely do it for you. Because, believe me, I’m no one special. But believe me, I really am special as far as God is concerned. And so are you.