Somewhere around middle to early 2010, my family and I discovered a little prayer room, in a house, in Arlington, TX. It was…different. We followed them from there, to an actual building, and then another building, and finally, years later when they were we, into a place of our own.
According to Swarm, I’ve been here 494 times, as of today. 1 year and 4 months or so. I’ve sat and wept. I’ve learned. I went thru an internship, a prophetic class, and countless teachings on Saturday night. But more than that, I’ve mostly sat quietly, and attempted to talk to God. Sometimes I’m quiet enough to hear Him, and sometimes, it’s impossible not to.
I’ve enjoyed my finest hours in that room the last ten years, and battled through my lowest valleys. As the song says, this is how I fight my battles. When we couldn’t explain bruises on my youngest to an over zealous doctor at Cook’s (we later found out he was essentially assaulted at church), this is the place, these are the people, that provided comfort for us. When my wife’s Mother died, we snuggled down here. And a few months later, when my own Mother passed, it really hit me. This is OUR cleft, the one that David wrote of in Psalms 27: For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. Because that afternoon we watched her pass from terra firma to glory, when my whole world was shaken…it was here, at The Prayer Room, where I took shelter from the howling winds of my life. And oh man, they were so good to me. Like, undeservingly good. I don’t remember large chunks of that time period. But I remember that they were good to me, and my family. When we felt utterly abandoned by our church, and many friends, The Prayer Room was where safety, sanity, and acceptance was still offered. And I suppose that’s when it clicked that, these people, mostly way younger than I, really “got it.”
What does that mean? When I was young my grandparents were in a church, Richland Hills Christian Church. And they were IN community. They were at the church, or with people from the church, daily. When my grandmother passed, they loved my grandfather so well. And I always wanted that…and there it was. In front of me, revealed in the time of chaos. Ekklesia. This was the place, the only place, where an actual version of New Testament Ekklesia was being expressed, in my circles. I wept a lot, and they didn’t judge me. They loved me through it, and I am ever grateful.
But the joy of the last 494 visits wasn’t THAT revelation. It isn’t the victories in the sphere of the abolition of abortion. And I mean the victories, besides REALLY encountering Jesus. And plugging my family into the Source, which was great also. But my favorite victory, the sweetest moments, are watching these hungry, mostly single, childless, 20 somethings, turn into married 30 somethings, with children. And I get to watch them lead their families with excellence. I’ve spent years praying for them, and, I’ve watched God do incredible work in front of my eyes. I’m thankful, mostly, that I’ve got to watch. My wife and I have been married for almost 24 years. And we find community, and victory, in a sea of mostly newlyweds (2 years or less still qualifies you as newlyweds. I guess I’m old school…) And we learn from them, whether intentionally, or not. And maybe, hopefully, they learn from us.
What I do know is, while the world may see those 494 visits as wasted time, that I could have used to broaden our ministry, or work on whatever…I see those visits, those appointments with The Creator of All, as Life. In those times, God has dealt with me. I’ve had countless hours to pour into my sweet daughter, who is also on staff with me now. I’ve had life lessons poured into me, by our leadership. During both staff meetings, and teachings. And countless teachings, have been rebranded, and poured into our residents at Sober by Grace. And, some of them, have taken those lessons, and rebranded them, and poured them out into others. You see, Brad, and the rest of these people here, have done it: They have created fruit that sustains. And I’ve done that too, in my daughters, in my mentees, and in so many residents. They have loved the Lord well. And others, too. And that’s why, eventually, we’ll be here a 500th, a 750th, and a 1000th time. Because The Prayer Room is doing New Testament church, and New Testament church, the Acts model, the Jesus model, is where it’s at.