The Sword of the Spirit communities in North America recently held an online Zoom prayer meeting as a time for encouragement, worship, and sharing together (February 7, 2021). During the online gathering Mike Heskamp, who is senior coordinator of the Greater Columbus Covenant Community in Ohio, USA, was invited to share his sense of what the Lord is doing to renew, prepare, and purify us now for a time of future mission. Click on the link above to hear the video recording. Below is a summary of the presentation. – ed.
Seeking the Lord for what he is doing
Since last November I have had a sense in my heart that the Lord wants our focus to remain on him. He wants us to seek him for what he is doing in this time of serious shaking and trials.
We have been hearing a word from the Lord that right now is a time of preparation and purification which will be followed later by a time of mission. The Lord is preparing a harvest to be reaped in due course.
Preparation of the mission field
All around us the world is being shaken – non-Christians and cultural Christians are being shaken – when the comfort and ease of life is shaken it becomes more clear that this world is fleeting and not fulfilling. The Lord is shaking people and striping away everything that they have known and relied upon for comfort and ease – to make them ready for something deeper.
Pressing in to the Lord to be purified
This has also been a very challenging time for believing Christians and things have been strained. With our structures removed or shaken, our hearts are being exposed – and this is painful. But this is also a way in which the Lord can operate more deeply in our hearts in ways that cannot happen in ordinary circumstances.
We have two choices before us. We can be lulled to sleep by the lure of ease, comfort and materialism in this time of trial, or we can press in to the Lord and be purified and prepared for a season of mission.
Some spiritual lessons from Exodus
The Book of Exodus reveals some fruits I think the Lord desires to bring about in us. I will focus on chapters 33 and 34 – which takes place right after the Israelites grew tired of waiting for Moses to return from speaking with God on Mount Sinai, so they made a golden calf and worshipped it (chapter 32).
Then the Lord chastised the people and told them to remove their ornaments.
The LORD spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites: You are a stiff-necked people. Were I to go up in your company even for a moment, I would destroy you. Now off with your ornaments! Let me think what to do with you.Exodus 33:5
A martyr’s heart
The first fruit I believe the Lord wants to give us is a martyr’s heart – a heart that is detached and striped from “ornamentations”, worldly comforts and ease of life. He wants our only desire to be for the Lord and him alone – and to count this world as transitory. Through this time of trial the Lord is leading us into total dependence on him. And that will produce interior peace and freedom that allow us to present our lives to the Lord and what he has for us – just as a martyr would fully give his life over to the Lord!
Moses said to the LORD, “you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said: You are my intimate friend;* You have found favor with me. Now, if I have found favor with you, please let me know your ways … The LORD answered: I myself will go along, to give you rest. Moses replied, “If you are not going yourself, do not make us go up from here. For how can it be known that I and your people have found favor with you, except by your going with us? … The LORD said to Moses: This request, too, which you have made, I will carry out, because you have found favor with me and you are my intimate friend.Exodus 33:12-17
Deeper closeness with the Lord
The more we’re detached and totally dependent on the Lord, the closer we draw near to him. Nothing else can sustain us when we encounter serious trials – how good is to be pressed into dependence on him!
This closeness of friendship is also something that the Lord wants to renew in us with each other as brothers and sisters united in Christ. This area has been a strain for us during isolation. But I believe that there is a grace right now for renewing relationships. The fruit of that will be a unity that was fought for – and made stronger together!
We can prepare the way for mission by our prayers and fasting, and by our intercession. As we draw closer to the Lord and align our will with his, we can be confident that he will grant our requests.
Then Moses said, “Please let me see your glory!” The LORD answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “LORD,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. … When my glory passes I will … cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back; but my face may not be seen.Exodus 33:18-23
This is a season of grace! The Lord is passing by us during this period of preparation – and in his mercy he will give us enough opportunities to respond to him with faith and trust. If we are open and willing, he is offering abundant grace!
Wait attentively – act decisively
Waiting on the Lord is an active time of prayer and dialog with the Lord. It’s not a passive waiting – but an active seeking of his will. Active waiting on the Lord also involves decisive action – stepping out in faith when we hear the Lord calling and receiving the grace his gives us to carry out that call.
In our local community we are seeing Jonah style moments when we are confronted with obstacles and our own fear in stepping out in faith when we hear the Lord’s call. The Lord will put before us opportunities to hear his word and to act decisively – but it will cost us in overcoming fear or other obstacles. This will unlock more grace as we step out in faith!
This is but the beginning – we are only seeing a part of what the Lord wants to do.
The LORD said to Moses: “Cut two stone tablets like the former, that I may write on them the words* which were on the former tablets that you broke. Get ready for tomorrow morning, when you are to go up Mount Sinai and there present yourself to me on the top of the mountain.Exodus 34:1-2
Renewal of our call and covenant
I believe the Lord wants us to present ourselves before him to be renewed in our call and covenant and way of life he has given us. In this time, we’re seeing that how deeply this call is rooted in our hearts is being exposed – we’re having to live it out much more isolated. The enemy would want to destroy this work by undermining our call and covenant and life together. The Lord wants to renew it.
The LORD said: Here is the covenant I will make. Before all your people I will perform marvels never before done in any nation anywhere on earth, so that all the people among whom you live may see the work of the LORD. Awe-inspiring are the deeds I will perform with you! As for you, observe what I am commanding you today.Exodus 34:10-11
Brothers and sisters, I believe that the Lord is going to do great things in our midst. We simply need to follow him with trust and faithfulness and obeying his commandments. Right now is a time of purification and preparation (which will often not feel good!). But God has great things in store for future mission as we wait attentively and act decisively for the Lord.
The LORD is passing by – Let us not miss this opportunity to respond to his grace for such as time as this.
Video and text © copyright by the Sword of the Spirit.
Mike Heskamp is the senior coordinator of the Greater Columbus Covenant Community in Ohio, USA.