God’s Man of Power for the Hour
(Fairview Heights, Illinois circa 1999)
I believe it happened in the springtime–sometime after Christmas and before Easter. I don’t remember the specifics of the “when” but I will never forget the “what” of this story. I had been at Christ Church for almost two years and my ministry was just starting to get some traction. A sense that God may have something really special for this congregation was just beginning to take shape in my heart. In those days we had one worship service and it started at 10:30. We were one church, in one location, who met at one time. Those were great days.
I arrived about 9:30 through the front glass doors only to see a woman in a wheel chair out the corner of my eye. I did not recognize her so I said a quick “hello” and went to my office to get things ready for church. When I emerged about thirty minutes later, she was in the same spot so I went to introduce myself. A quick glance verified that she was not in the chair to convalesce but had been so confined for years and would be in that chair for the rest of her life. As I approached her, something welled up within me. Something in my spirit said, “Reach out your hand and command her to walk.” I had read about a similar instance in the Bible concerning Peter and John and remember the encounter resulted in a once lame man who went, “Running and jumping and praising God.” In a split second I was right in front of her; would I obey God and set a miracle into motion or would I miss God and make a scene that would embarrass the Lord (and his servant)? At the moment of truth, I held out my hand and said (drum roll please), “Glad you are here today.” With that God’s man of power for the hour walked into the sanctuary.
That scene has never been removed from my memory. What if I had really heard the voice of God in that moment? What if she would have reached for my hand, received healing and went, “Running and leaping and praising God” throughout the narthex? I will never know. Over the past fifteen years that scenario has never again presented itself. Perhaps I did the right thing. Perhaps I established that such a prompting was a waste of God’s time. I will never know.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.