I am continuing on with my reflections from where I came from with this next installment. If you missed the first one, click here and you can catch up.
When I was stationed in Japan, I joined a little Assembly of God church that met in my pastor’s home. I was the only young single guy at the services, but I didn’t care. I wanted to love God more and love his people. I went from the dynamic worship leading of Lindell Cooley to a little elderly lady that played some hymns and choruses on the piano as we stood and sang. Every once in awhile some of the Filipino ladies of the church would lead us in some, what I would call, “happy, clappy songs.”
It was in this season that I learned something about myself. I didn’t really need or desire the “stuff” that I had grown accustomed to at the larger American church. My faith would survive and even thrive no matter where I ended up. I was able to morph to my surroundings and make the most of what I had to work with. Eventually, by the grace of God, I led some other young guys to the Lord and connected with other believers on the ship and we began to add a new dimensions to our church.
We eventually moved to a rented building where we set up and broke down for church each week. My pastor was a big guy and did alot of the heavy lifting. By the time he was ready to preach on Sunday morning, he had to change clothes and towel down becuase he was dripping with sweat. But he did it with joy and I will never forget his dedication. Whenever we needed to be picked up from the base, he was there, even if it meant he had to make multiple trips in a day. Whenever he preached the cross, he teared up every time. He wasn’t the best preacher or the greatest theologian, but he was all heart.
By the time I was supposed to finish my enlistment, I became conflicted about whether I should stay in and retire in 15 years or get out and return to Pensacola. I felt the fear of the unknown trying to wrap itself around my faith, but I knew in my hear that God has called me to that Bible school in Pensacola, so I returned there. It was amazing to be back in the city where I dedicated my life to Jesus. I was a different person with a whole lot of new experiences under my belt.
The Lord spoke to me out of the Old Testament passage about the children of Israel coming into the promised land. “See how the Lord has led you in this wilderness…to humble you, to test you, to see what was in your heart, whether you would serve the Lord or not.” I had passed the test. I could have gone to Japan and become any person I wanted to be. No one knew me. No one knew about my experiences at revival. I could have gone any way I wanted, but I chose to go after God. I chose to make the most of my opportunities. I chose to live by the saying, “No matter where I go, who I’m with, or what happens to me; my goal is the same…to spread the flame.” Now I was entering into a new phase of learning and life….
Stay tuned….Part III is next.