Nostalgia: In the Prayer Chapel 31st March, 2013Posted by Scotty in Heart, Multnomah.
At the beginning of the month—thanks to the gift of airmiles—I was in Portland for one of my best bud’s wedding. During the trip I dropped by the Multnomah Campus to say hey to a couple of friends and to enjoy some moments of nostalgia. I had some time to kill between appointments and as usual my feet walked me to the little Prayer Chapel that sits on campus.
I went inside.
I sat there for about a minute enjoying the feel and the smell of the place. The smell is a funny one for me: I can’t work out if it’s simply that old smell—of old carpets and old wood; or if it’s the smell of years of prayer; most likely it’s a combination of both.
I’d forgotten how much I love this little chapel. I spent 20-30 minutes journalling and reflecting on the numerous hours I’ve spent with God in that tiny little building, learning from the Perfect Teacher, being operated on by the Master Surgeon, and having my heart renovated by the Great Architect. Here are some things I thought about:
- The hours simply praying: It would be fun to know how many hours I’ve spent in that little place. (Though I’m sure if I took the number of hours in the Prayer Chapel and compared it to the number of hours I wasted on nonsensical things, I’d not feel so great!) I spent numerous hours in the prayer chapel praying; praying with friends; memorising Scripture; playing piano and worshipping; reading Scripture or doing lectio divina homework assignments; interceding for friends, family, and difficult situations; asking God to grow and change me.
- The hours growing: I arrived at Multnomah fresh, excited and naive. I’d come armed with lessons I’d learned (or thought I’d learned!), theology I’d absorbed, and ministry philosophy I’d inherited. It was at Multnomah that I really grew. There in the Prayer Chapel God took the things I’d learned from others and sifted them through, leading me to embrace some things and discard others. It was there that my understanding of ministry moved from my head to my heart; and I began to understand who I am and how principles looked when lived out as me, rather than as an imitation of someone else. Seminary, ministry, and close community teach you lots about yourself. I often went to the prayer chapel to talk with God about my pride and selfishness, my fears and insecurities, my hopes and dreams. I went when things were great to praise and thank Him. I sat there when my heart was troubled and downcast pleading with God to intervene.
- The hours breaking: It was there that my heart began to break for the world. Sitting in classrooms engaging leaders from around the world, hearing the plight of various nations, and pining to return to my own to do what God had called me to… much of this was applied to my heart and carved there in that little prayer room. It was there also that my heart broke at itself. Actions, assignments, reflections, and scripture-responses all alerted me to the extent of my depravity; the understanding of my powerlessness to change apart from Christ; coming face to face with my sinfulness and beginning the slow and painful journey of embracing pain and brokenness to walk towards wholeness and holiness. A journey I’m still walking.
- The hours transforming: Although God had been working on me long before I went to Multnomah, I look at that time as the start of a huge season of heart transformation. While learning about God, and about myself, I saw more of the places where my heart was wrong. I wish I had one of those instantaneously-fixed stories, but I don’t. Instead, it’s been the long slow process of gradual change, grieving sin, repenting, making more mistakes, crying out to God, grieving some more, and having Him open my eyes to see my sin as He sees it. (Oh, but there’s the beautiful flip side of this too: having my heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh! My heart began to grasp grace; my identity in Christ; my role in His Kingdom; the gifts He’s given me; and the Power that works through me.
- The hours committing: On a regular basis I sat in that room offering myself to God. There were things I committed to not doing (wrong actions, attitudes, sins, etc) and then numerous commitments to doing His work, laying down self, and loving others. In the prayer chapel, seeking God’s guidance, I committed to pursue the girl who would become my wife—the greatest gift of my life outside of salvation.
Sitting in the prayer chapel again I reflected on the journey God has brought me on. We talked about my journey around the world and back. We talked about the massive leaps forwards in facing my brokenness. We takes about my journey from singlehood, through marriage, to parenthood. We talked about my season battling cancer. We talked about friends, conflicts, transitions, fears and blessings. I thanked God for His guidance, His provision, His sanctification, the gifts He’s poured out, and the way He’s walked with us so closely through everything we’ve faced.
Today is Easter Sunday.
Today we remember and celebrate the Resurrection Power of God. We rejoice in the incredible work Jesus did to give us the greatest gift imaginable.
Some days I look at my life and all I can see is how far short of Christlikeness I fall.
But today, as I think of the importance of the resurrection, I look back over my life and see how far I’ve come, and celebrate the Power and work of Christ in me.
I would love to say that all those hours spent in the prayer chapel resulted in me walking forward in a flawless pursuit of Jesus. Sadly, that’s not the case. But it did result in me walking forward with a greater awareness of my need for Jesus and knowing how desperately I need His power to be at work in and through me.
Oh how amazing it is to know that Christ is Risen. He is risen INDEED!