(This is the most personal thing I've ever shared publicly...please give me grace.)
After 21 days on the road and as many CapitalWalks, the Lord met me in a profound way last night. You see, this "suddenly" mission (which was downloaded with only a few weeks to prepare) has not only been the most arduous assignment I've ever stepped up to, but, it would seem, the most heart-rending as well, at least at times. Let me explain...
One of the occupational hazards of being on the "front lines" (or, as Scripture would call it, "a journey too great" for us) is that if we don't guard against it, we can sometimes feel just like Elijah felt (worth re-reading about), like we're the only one. But, just as God assured Elijah there were 7,000 others, so God always assures us we're not alone.
In my case, this mission isn't "my first rodeo," and so, I'm very thankful for the preemptive wisdom God has given me to avoid that kind of self pity. (Not that I've never gone there before; check out these lyrics to the bridge of a song I wrote a few years back, called, "You're My Peace:" Circumstances rising up before me/Giving place to all my doubts and my fears/I'm feeling sorry for myself, oh poor me/Haven't I learned anything all these years?)
Still, this has certainly been a barnburner, to say the least. (Now, it may sound like I'm contradicting what I just said, and pulling out my violin, but I'm not. You try even getting to 50 capitals in 50 days! As my dear friend and former Pentecost Walk missionary, Bobby Burkhardt, would say, "Not for the squeamish!")
So, by God's grace, I've been guarding my heart, but I've still been quite exhausted and feeling more than a little tender. Out of the 21 Capitols I've prayerwalked so far, we've had remnant-reinforcements at 18 of them. Instead of being AMAZED that on such short notice, God pulled 18 meetings (some with less than 24 hours notice) out of His spiritual hat, being the driven guy that I am, I've focused more on the three where I was alone, the most recent (and most tender) of which was last night.
Now, let me paint the picture of last night for you... 21 days into this sleep-deprived non-stop mission, with almost 6,000 miles on the rental car already, having just prayed alone in Montgomery earlier that same day (even though my friend, Huey Hudson, agreed with me by phone on site), driving 12 hours in the car by the time I arrived in Tallahassee... Add to this that I have no prior paradigm for prayerwalking that doesn't always include others, sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of others, add to this that my nephew, whom I dearly love, came and went unexpectedly, and that I'd stayed up with him until almost daybreak the previous two nights as we'd prayed and talked through his challenges, and then the biggest piece of all... That my beloved, Deanna, was sobbing during a late night phone call en route, as I was closing in on Florida's capital, wanting to be strong for me, but so deeply feeling my pain and not wanting me to feel like a failure...
So I get to Tallahassee. It's beautiful. It's balmy. It's as peaceful an atmosphere as I've felt in years (the kind of atmosphere where God's "still small voice" can get through). I'd asked a Capital Police officer, a tall, mountain of a man named Sultan, where I could park, and he allowed me to park in the "restricted lot." (Favor) I asked my new African-American friend if he was a believer, because I already knew he was. He and I agreed in prayer. It was powerful. It was Matthew 18 heaven-and-earth moving. We talked frankly about the need for the "white" Church (forgive the expression) to stop turning God into a Republican, and for the "Black" Church (again, forgive) to stop turning Him into a Democrat. It was a beautiful bridge.
Sultan was more inspired by this mission than anyone I've ever met. (He was too shy for a picture by the way, all 6'8" 280 pounds of him.) He gave me the run of the place, allowing me to walk anywhere around the Capitol I wanted, for as long as I wanted.
In this silent, balmy sanctuary of God's presence and peace, where I'm guessing hundreds of unseen angels were praising God in agreement, the "still small voice" of My Master spoke:
"I am pleased with you, son. As you connect these Capitals across the land, I am changing the spiritual landscape of this nation. I am bringing breakthrough. This mission is central to what I'm doing in this nation, at this very hour, and I am with you. My hand is on you, and I am pleased with you."
Beloved, ultimately, we serve an audience of One. From here on, I will still contend for crowds wherever I go, but whether hundreds join me or whether I am alone, I am His. And because I am His, I am never alone.
Somehow, by His unfathomable grace, my meager efforts (with your prayers, our efforts) are pleasing to Him.
Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!