“God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
An unusual trial befell me several years ago. It started on the Tuesday before Christmas, which came on Sunday that year. I woke up into what I can only call the absence of the Lord. Now I know He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” But at that moment I could not find Him anywhere; not in the Scripture, nor in prayer; not in song, nor in confession of faith.
He was gone.
I made it through the day thinking that this was a test of some kind, and that it would pass rather quickly. But the next morning when I woke, the feeling of emptiness had intensified and I was deeply troubled at the thought that this may be for real…and for ever.
By the following morning my fears were strengthened, as the problem grew even worse. Each day seemed to multiply my sense of being totally lost. By Saturday morning I groped about as a man who had never known the Lord at all. There was no discernable trace of His Spirit, His grace, or the power of His Word in my life. I was alarmed, to say the least.
To make matters worse, Sunday was coming. I was frantic in my search for some meaningful sermon to preach on Christmas Day, but could find nothing ~ a preacher’s worst nightmare. I covered my tracks by having the children take the morning service and sing to the congregation a variety of carols and hymns. As for myself, I left the church before the service ended and raced home to hide in my bedroom!
Monday morning dawned and my greatest fears were realized. The ordeal was relentless, and my sense of emptiness was more intense than ever. I dreaded the thought of what my future held, for I clearly would not be able to continue as a pastor in this condition.
The next morning when I woke, the Lord was present in a manifest way there in my room. I literally gasped like a man coming up out of water after almost drowning. With the exhale of that breath of life I blurted out a tangled prayer that sounded something like, “Lord, Where have You…What was this…and, please, don’t ever do that again!”
The Lord opened my heart to understand what He had been doing. In my mind the phrase came, “The Lord is taking me from the minor leagues to the major leagues.” In other words, He showed me that He was about to increase His anointing in my life and with that would come greater influence and responsibility in ministry. The dark ordeal was a portal of testing that led from one level to the next.
I wrote a little poem to commemorate that moment. May I share it with you?
“T’was the Week Before Christmas”
T’was the week before Christmas and all through my house
the Lord was not moving; I felt like a louse!
My prayers were like cement, my faith was like mud;
My spirit was sinking; my life was a dud!
So with desperate endeavor I hastened to see
Just what in the world was happening to me!
I called on the Name of the Lord God Most High!
And with speed like molasses He finally replied….
“This week is a test I’m passing you through;
I’m weighing your heart to see what you’ll do.
For I’ve purposed to use you in ways I think best,
But I only can do so if you pass this test!”