Shelter and Strength – Pray for General Assembly

Aboard the Queen Of Cowichan – As I approach the bow on the outside deck, I am struck by a gale-force wind. I brace myself against the wall and reach out for the railing.

The furious wind seemed to come out of nowhere, but that’s life on the open water of the Strait of Georgia.

I am enroute from West Vancouver to Nanaimo, midway through my first road trip as Executive Director. I am being graciously hosted and greeted by many believers. It’s an opportunity to bring the Renewal message of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to three congregations, several General Assembly commissioners and whoever else the Holy Spirit places in my path.

When you’re on a watercraft of any kind, you are at the mercy of God’s natural forces. We’ve all been faced with the kind of wind that bowls you over. Had I not crouched low and held on to the rail, I would have been flattened. I held on to my glasses. Any hat would have been lost at sea.

I didn’t remain long at the bow, but I wanted to remain outside as it was a sunny day. I circled the upper deck, looking for refuge. After a few minutes I found it – a bench at the open end of a shelter, which enabled me to bask in the sun while feeling very little wind. It was a remarkable contrast to the brutal breeze just a few metres away.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, the psalmist writes.

After sunning for as long as I could, I went back inside. How many able-bodied people didn’t even bother to venture outside, sitting instead in comfy chairs and at sturdy tables. Some didn’t even leave their vehicles. Sad.

The experience recalled a conversation I’d had the previous day. I left my zone of comfort and met with someone whose theology was markedly different. Yes, he was a follower of Christ and we probably had 90 per cent of our faith in common. Funny how that 10 per cent can drive wedges between us. Yet the meeting was informative and thought-provoking. I left inspired and richer.

My West Coast trip was nine days, with a different roof over my head each night. I had significant conversations with 36 people and brief meetings with probably a dozen more, plus the lively folks at a Victoria B&B. Most of them were strangers at first; they are now acquaintances or even friends.

This is all foreshadowing of General Assembly, June 3-7, where 229 commissioners will be sitting around tables, listening, thinking, voting, and praying. Many will be out of their comfort zones: politics will rear its head, in natural opposition to spiritual forces. Motions from the floor, amendments upon amendments, tabling and rulings from the Moderator with the inevitable challenges. You can run below deck and hide, or you can find shelter.

We need to pray for General Assembly. Pray that God’s holy and perfect will is done. Not our will, not our selfish desires. Pray that Moderator-Designate Daniel Cho will be submitted enough to the Holy Spirit that he will preside and rule in a godly manner.

Pray for godly recommendations to be approved. Pray for ungodly recommendations to fail.

The Book of Reports is available online. I haven’t read the entire thing as yet, but there is some good stuff in the report of the majority on the Committee on Church Doctrine, which is recommending that we maintain our current definition of marriage. Good news indeed.

Pray that we emerge from General Assembly a step closer to a church that reflects the Body of Christ. Pray that we will be able to withstand the winds of change which threaten to bowl us over. Pray that we will remain attached to our firm foundation.