A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to take part in a prayer meeting on a piece of property that my school recently acquired. They plan to use the land for a counseling center available to students and strangers alike. I was thrilled at the opportunity to participate in the foundation of something so dear to my heart, and the establishment of something so vital to our world today – counseling based on the principles found in God’s Word, not the feeble, failing attempts of man to outsmart and circumvent the will and word of God.
From the first moment I walked into the building I could feel an ominous and deviant presence that was not pleased with our invasion of its “territory”. My group began to tear down strongholds, and revoke any claims that the forces of darkness had once held over that land, and we could feel the spotlight of God’s Presence infiltrate the ranks and send the enemy running away in defeat. What a mighty God we serve!
But something struck me as I was walking and praying. I was intrigued by the appearance of the inside of the building; worn out, dilapidated, dirty, gutted an
d currently without electricity. Then I was drawn to a picture that was still hanging on the wall (at right). I was reminded of the lyrics that Henry Van Dyke set to the tune of Beethoven:
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.
I was struck by the presence of such powerful, uplifting lyrics in a place that had been the abode of darkness for so long. Then God reminded me that the interior of the building was very similar to what my life was like before I embarked on this journey that we call Christianity. I was worn down, in a perpetual state of disrepair, filthy, empty and stumbling around in the darkness, until Jesus came and illuminated the truth, freeing me from bondage.
I am so thankful that God never leaves us like He found us! It says in Isaiah 61:3 that He will give us: “Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. (paraphrased)
Because even in an atmosphere as dismal as that building was, there was still a glimmer of hope left on that wall; a thing of beauty in the midst of ashes, reminding us that even when life gets hard, and we can’t even see the sun through the clouds of opposition that have overwhelmed us… Take heart! We serve the God of the Breakthrough, and He is always present; even in the darkest of circumstances.
© Shane Oberlin – 2013
© Conquering Kingdoms – 2013